Spare a thought for the late, great Jane Grigson – she never knew the wonder of chickoo, or ‘Sapodilla’ as it is recorded in her 1982 ‘Fruit Book’, where she declares the imported variety ‘disappointing’ and ‘losing more than most fruit on its journey to Europe.’ She was forced to give wistful second hand descriptions – ‘The taste reminds people of brown sugar’. According to eighteenth century traveller and botanist Descourtilz, ‘an over-ripe sapodilla is melting, and has the sweet perfumes of honey, jasmine and lily of the valley.’
Alas poor Jane never made it to this part of the world to see if what she wrote was true. I did, although I’ve taken my time with chickoo – perhaps because of its unappealing potato-like appearance which always seems to mutter ‘don’t buy me’. Well, more fool me, I now know what I’ve been missing. With its unassuming, nothing-to-prove manners, and malty, caramelly, demerara graininess, the chickoo has won me over completely.
I first discovered it during a recent trip to Old Delhi to chronicle ‘Fruit Sandwiches’, (more of this soon). Along with our mango and paneer sarnies, we were given chickoo milkshake. I was completely distracted from the job in hand – pure decadence from first sip to last.
When you get beyond the dull brown skin, the chickoo flesh is the most beautiful pinkish-beige and contains 4 shiny black seeds. It’s the kind of sweetness you can’t believe exists in nature. Now, Chickoo Milkshake is a new component of my mid-afternoon meltdown routine which includes, on an ideal day, a cool shower and 10 minutes drifting off to ‘The Archers’ on my ipod.
Mrs Grigson recommends this,
‘To get at the fruit, slice it down or across, according to whether you wish to cut it in wedges or to scoop out the inside with a spoon. Be careful to temove the pips. The softness of flavour needs lime juice, or lemon but preferably lime. Sprinkle the slices and serve them as they are, or with some coconut cream sauce, or in a fruit salad. The softest unsliceable fruit should be mashed and used in creams, fools and other puddings.’
All of which I intend to try, if I ever tire of the milkshake.
2 ripe chickoo
250mls full-cream milk
sugar to taste
Blend the ingredients till smooth. If temperatures get beyond 43, add ice cream.