Monday, July 8, 2013

Kafal and where art thou Burhar

Sometimes it amazes me to realize that my country is so rich in variety. Rich with many many of that of which i don't have the faintest idea about. Other times there is this half hearted desire to just pack a few necessary belongings and start on a journey from Kashmir to Kanyakumari. To know and get an idea of all things existing and more about those which might not exist. Sure one gets interested in holding on to some if not all of that which will be lost forever. Rituals, culture, art, birds, trees, plants and last but not the least the lesser known bounties of nature savored through the palate and the sight.

Then one fine day as you dedicate your time to read an article about the person you admire tremendously as a writer the urge becomes like a longing and you get serious about doing something.
The article an interview of the most admired poet/composer/jingle ad man in which he goes down memory lane to talk about how he matured as a poet then composer and now a very inspiring story teller. All of his narration kept me attentive to what he had to say about his journey but what stopped me in my tracts was this word Kafal. Just for anyone who would care to know i am talking about none other than Mr Prasoon Joshi.
Reminiscing he says," I lived amidst nature and always ate this wild fruit called Kafal. The fruit was getting extinct and there was no reason for anyone to save it. But those are the ways of nature, when it tells you, through murmurs, if you want to listen. Today, it is shouting out loud. But when the kafal was disappearing, no one heard it. I could hear it every time i went back. I had memories of my parents plucking Kafals for me. ..."

Now i have memories of this weird rather some may call it ugly looking but delightful to eat fruit of my childhood. In appearance somewhat like cheekoo ( Sapodilla) although not uniformly round but rather having bumps and folds with exactly the same texture and color of the skin of Cheekoo. A fruit called in colloquial as Burhar in my own homestate Bihar. The tree huge with broad leaves and the fruit delicious with it's sweet and sour taste. Juicy fibres, orangish golden with a stony seed inside. i have searched the Internet in vain and still searching...for the tree...for some pictures of the fruit. Someone told me about the tree still existing somewhere but as for the fruit none of the markets including small town village markets have it anymore. Any place i visit which still has forests and is renowned for it's wide variety i keep asking the locals about this fruit but my questions at best give me countenances which are trying to figure out the structure of that mysterious fruit the hyper lady is talking about. Some the very elderly have confirmed about my memory and it pleases me to see an affirmative nod but they too feel helpless in guiding me to the where . Thus i am led to presume that just like Kafal, Burhar has gone or going extinct too.

This time though Mr Prasoon Joshi's Kafal made me turn towards my own boy Friday Sanjay Singh Negi instead of Mr Google. Young sweet chap who is attentive and quite amused by this Madam of his who is always quizzing him on not only for the local names of flora but also about the lesser known fruits of the hills and tales of his childhood spent in his homeland. He belongs to Uttarakhand too. i simply love the glow on his face and that smile that seems innocently angelic like a child when he talks about some of those. Thus Hisaalu, Kirmodi, Kilmoda, Mehal, Ghigharu...and something of the fruit of which they played with called Baanjh.

Meet Mr Sanjay Singh Negi although when i call for him it's always Sanjoo instead of Sanjay. i asked him to choose one pic of his from his mobile and send it to me and this is what he sent. Although the neon heart is predominant and the pic has none of those expressions that i'm talking about it suffices for the time being to have him here as i ask about Kafal and the rest.

Sanjoo speaks about Kafal fondly too and i am indeed indebted for he guided me to not only where to find it for the time being but also the correct local pronunciation too which is kaa + phal = kaaphal
So i happily present Kaaphal thanks to Sanjoo and

Me : Sanjoo this looks amazing tell me how it tastes...
Sanjoo: Madam it has a sweet and sour taste. The tree is a big tree and the fruit has to be eaten quickly or it starts sweating and becomes mushy. Just for an hour that's how much you can keep it. There is another one quite like it and it is called Hisaalu/ Hinsaar. Hisaalu is a creeper which looks like a rambling rose bush with thorns and serrated leaves but that from a distance. The fruit looks similar to Kaaphal but is golden yellow in color and aromatic too. Also even quicker to sweat and be mushy than Kaaphal...

Me : Does it taste like Phalsa ( Mulberry) it looks similar to that...

Sanjoo chuckles and shakes his head in the negative but he is not over yet. With a glint that conveys some sense of pride about his beautiful land and it's amazing bounties he tells me all he can remember of the fruits no longer to be seen but perhaps still existing in the forests at higher altitudes.
He sure has lots to enlighten me with as he carries on. i listen to him with rapt attention planning a journey too in my mind promising myself that i shall seek these that he is talking about least till i can. Who knows that while tasting and knowing how to play with some fruits like Sanjoo i might have a reconnoiter with my own Burhar.

My attempt at doing something may be a selfish one...that to see, know and savor but in my own way this should be my first step. After all how will i take care to nurture that of which i have never known before. 
Thank you Prasoon Joshi jee (jee a respectable term in Hindi ) for introducing me to Kafal and sharing with me this love of all that is local. Also for opening the can of warmth which seems to melt that ice of formality and protocol and makes Sanjoo accept me as something more than just being the wife of  a senior officer only to be yes madam no madammed with. 
 Somehow i get this feeling that i'm going to find my very own Burhar soon.


  1. Heres to finding your very own Burhar!!

    Amazing fruit!! Never heard of it!

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. Shivani.. this was a rather .. spiritual journey for me as I am as much stranger to these fruits you talked about as much too God and I felt so good .. to know .. there are so many fruits of the country which many like me have not even known about - life is restricted to fruits which are polished artificially and grown with injections .. be it grapes , apples or bananas
    Kaaphal actually looks like strawberries which i had it in Manali or may be it was the same thing which I had .. taking it as strawerry,who knows ! coz even they would get mushy in sometime .
    Well thanks for introducing to Gods :) loved the post!

  3. those are some amazing clicks, making my mouth drool

  4. @ magiceye thank you indeed and hope u stop by again when/if i find my own Burhur.
    Glad u shared that delight of discovering a new fruit today. :)

  5. @aliasgarmukhtiar thanks for drooling along with me. hahaha...:)

    1. actually i forgot yesterday but my sister has made a movie for csfi Kaafal, its about this same fruit and it was shot in Uttrakhand last year

  6. Can't express the happiness when u have this conversation with me. Actually love such comments which feels like a one to one chat.
    Okay Kaaphal may look like strawberries but is a whole world different in structure and taste.What we get of strawberrues has quite a shelf life. Kaafal are small clusters with a taste which is a cross between raspberry and mulberry(phalse) and it turns mushy within an hour. Hope u find it as enlightening as i did first through Sanjoo and then later when i read about it in detail on the net as Salmonberry
    Rubus spectabilis. If u r interested then do check it out on
    ur warm words just gives me immense joy and i can't help thanking u again. :)

  7. @Sanjay Bhaskar thank you for going through my post and yes amazing fruit indeed.:)