If you are traveling through the Western Ghats in the summer, you will see the roads are flanked by green thorny shrubs sporting countless berries in shades of green and red. I was intrigued by these eye-catching berries, so I enquired my local auto driver and he told me that these berries are called Karvand. Since the name did not ring a bell, I consulted the internet to find out that these fruits are none other than the Black Currant! Commonly known as Karonda in Hindi, Karvand in Marathi, Kavali Kai in Kannada, and Vakkai in Telugu. The unripe berries are green in colour and sour in taste. As they get sunkissed, the skin starts turning red and eventually into its characteristic black colour. Even the sourness gradually decreases with increase in ripeness. At the final ripened stage, the black fruit has a well-balanced sweetness and sourness. Excited, I jumped off the auto to pick a few and savor only to get sticky white latex all over me. So, I would strongly suggest precaution and washing the berries a couple of times before popping them into the mouth.
I also had heard that the humble berry Karonda, had long been prized for its medical powers. The fruit is rich in Vitamin C and it contains a lot of iron. It is known to have antimicrobial and antifungal activities. Hence, the old wounds that had become infected were traditionally cleaned with karonda juice. It contains analgesic and anti-inflammatory qualities and has been used to treat anorexia. Karonda is believed to help lower cholesterol levels.
As a kid, I was particularly fond of the green Karonda because they were simple healthy snacks enjoyed with a pinch of salt, which mom approved. However, I had seen the grandmothers and mothers busy pickling them to perfection in the summer. Karonda is a versatile fruit hence it is widely used in preparation of jams, jellies, pickles,chutney,relish,squash,syrups and tarts. In the regions of Maharastra and Karnataka where it is available in abundance every household has their own traditional Karonda pickle recipe. However, in the current times where pickles are considered unhealthy because of excessive presence of oil, this homemade pickle recipe is oil free (by default) and very easy to make with easily available natural ingredients. Once the pickle is ready you can serve it with a healthy drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to enhance the flavors and to add a good source of oil into your diet. Try it and let me know if you enjoyed it.
1 Cup Karonda/Karvand/Green Black Currant
¼ Cup Red Chili Powder
¼ Cup Salt
1tsp Turmeric Powder
¼ tsp Hing / Asafoetida
1tbsp Mustard Dal
1tsp Fenugreek Powder
Olive Oil for garnishing (Optional)
- Wash Karonda/Karvand 2-4 times with water and dry them completely.
- Cut them into half. If there are black seeds then only remove the seeds.
- Mix them with Salt and keep it aside overnight.
- Next day, add Turmeric Powder, Hing, Chili Powder, Mustard Dal, and Fenugreek Powder and mix it completely.
- Let the spices marinate for 1-2days
- Pickle is now ready. You can serve it as is or you can drizzle a little bit of olive oil before serving.