Sunday, Jul 03, 2022

Goras Ambli: Our Childhood Summer Friend

Also called Jungle Jalebi, Madras Thorn and Monkey Pod, this popular street tree’s vibrant fruit confers a host of health benefits

Goras Ambli is a flowering tree belonging to the pea family
Goras Ambli is a flowering tree belonging to the pea family Shutterstock

Summer brings with it a different kind of nostalgia which is not always perceptible when one is dealing with the seasonal torment in India’s capital city. A friend from Gujarat brought to my mind the sweetness of Goras Ambli, a subtle reminder of the summer spent traversing the myriad delights of the state a few years ago. A popular sight in the villages, where kids pluck the fruit from the tree and relish it with innocent urgency, Goras Ambli’s exoticness is matched by its many benefits.

Goras Ambli is widely cultivated in Gujarat
Goras Ambli is widely cultivated in Gujarat Shutterstock

Also called Manila Tamarind (although it has no association to either), Madras Thorn and Chamchile among other names, Goras is a flowering tree belonging to the pea family. While its origins have been traced to the Pacific Coast, with Mexico, Central America, and northern South America as its primary homes, it was introduced to India where it flourished in Gujarat and many other states, owing to its drought-resistant abilities. 

Manila Tamarind tree
Manila Tamarind tree Shutterstock

With a thorny trunk that makes it a disaster to play around, keeping it safe from foraging animals, Goras Ambli flowers in the summer, and produces a circular pod that opens once ripe. A vibrant pinkish-green in colour, the pods are filled with pulp that is a deliciously sweet and sour, coupled with black seeds. In India, Goras Ambli grows in different states and is addressed by different names; in Pakistan it is called jungle jalebi for its resemblance to the sugary dessert. What remains constant, though, are its multifaceted health benefits that rural India swears by.   

Goras Ambli is beneficial in treating diarrhoea, and also strengthens teeth while managing blood sugar levels in individuals with diabetes. Laden with essential nutrients and possessing proteins, calories and dietary fibres, each pod allows for greater digestive abilities and fulfils energy requirements. Enriched with calcium and phosphorus, the fruit is instrumental in fortifying bones and also regularises your appetite.  Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant and component of Goras' sweet pulp, has been proven to be of aid in skin troubles. 

Tamarind flowering season
Tamarind flowering season Shutterstock

And we aren’t the only beings that relish the tangy delight that is Goras. Monkeys, who have an aerial advantage of swinging on branches and avoiding Goras’ prickly base, can still be seen munching on the fruit, spitting seeds all around, hoping the next generation of amblis find roots. While I am yet to spot the curvy fruit here, going back to the time when I ate a handful of amblis as my father drove across Gujarat’s winding roads, somehow makes Delhi summers a little more bearable.