I was rushing home when someone informed me that heavy rain is on the way. I was excited to come home at this time, and get drenched in the rain ……because my favourite season has finally arrived. I was waiting for the heavy down pour, but nothing came, except the occasional drizzle. The sky looked dark and cloudy lighting up my hopes. And I am still waiting for that magical music of rainfall.
For me, monsoon is a word that stirs up my fondest childhood memories of invigorating smell of damp earth, budding leaves, knee-deep water, crisp air, and ominous clouds rolling across the sky. And the fun of making paper boats with old newspapers and floating them in the water which had formed puddles and streams. The boats would dance their way to oblivion.
Some of my best childhood memories pertains to picking up the Jamuns strewn on the sidewalks after falling off the branches that outgrew the periphery of our neighbor’s garden. The sweet, sour flavours of the beautiful purple fruit Jamun or black plum or Java plum is something that makes it irresistible. Irresistible because it brings back beautiful memories from childhood. We would gather a handful of the fruit while coming from school and wash them at our garden tap then pull out a small pack of spicy salt hidden in our pockets, sprinkle it over the fruit and enjoy our fruit hiding away in some corner of our home.
It’s only recently that I have used this fruit in cooking. For years, right from childhood we had the fruit uncooked delighting in its purple-ness, comparing whose mouth was stained a shade richer or lighter, picking the darkest and ripest ones as the berries have an astringent quality and the ripest ones are the sweetest.
Jamun or Indian blackberry is also called Jambu in Gujarati, Jamun in Hindi & Marathi, Perinnaral in Malayalam, Jamukoli in Odia, Neredum in Tamil, Kalajam in Bengali, Neereedi in Telugu and Black plum or Java plum in English. Every part of the jamun tree is said to have medicinal uses: its fruit, its seed, bark and leaves.The fruit has also rich in manganese, zinc, iron, calcium, sodium and potassium, ALL OF which play an important role in various bodily functions.The fruit is slightly acidic but we love to have the really ripe ones as they turn soft and sweet. Because of the presence of anthocyanin, a plant pigment, having the fruit colours the tongue purple.
Jamun Fruit is said to have the best remedy for all chronic ailments including Diabetes. The compounds namely peptidyglycan and an oligosaccharide present in Black Jamun have been found to play a crucial role in lowering sugar levels in a diabetic person. The fruit has also rich in minerals such as manganese, zinc, iron, calcium, sodium and potassium, which play an important role in various bodily functions. The ripe jamun fruit is well recognized as a liver stimulant, digestive, carminative and coolant.The fresh seeds of jamun fruit reduce blood sugar levels and glucosuria in diabetic patients. The fruit juice is used in diarrhea and dysentery and its effectiveness is noted when the patient passes blood-mixed stool.