Lapsi hunting and making lapsi achar
by Utkrishta Mulmi
Scientific name: Choerospondias axillaris
Lapsi tree that has shed its leaves for the winter. A member of the parrot flock that was probably planning to enjoy the sour fruit.
Lapsi or the hog plum is an oval fruit about the size of a thumb. Found in Asia it has a soft white sour flesh and greenish yellow skin. The fruit is used in Nepal to make achar pickles, candy, spice vegetables and other types of food. The fruit is nutritious and priced near the mandarin orange or tangerines on the market.
Teena on the lapsi hunt, Vidheha finds her find. Bishes below goes Ooooo. I find me some lapsi toooooo.
The deciduous tree grows up to 20 meters tall and can earn more than 2500 rupees a year in as is fruit alone. Every season, we want to make lapsi achar sweet as well as the salty version. We hadn’t made the achar this year and Sabita didi who is in charge of the kitchen had been saying it was time to head to the forest for the past couple of weeks.
Our first encounter gathering lapsi was in a Bungamati jungle while hiking. Vidheha, Bishesh and Amulya found lapsis in the bushes as we explored. So we split up into two groups with Vidheha, Amulya and Bishesh in one and Anita, Shila and Tina in the other.
The next hike was a focused one. We wanted to get lapsis and targeted the Chanlakhel hills where we knew there were many lapsi trees in the forests from hikes of the past few years. We started picking lapsis on the path and forest floor from the start.
|Eena Shrestha photofies Shila Shrestha |
who found lapsis in the bush while
hiking in the Bungamati bushes.
We found ourselves in a section of the forest with tons of lapsis. We got what we found and moved on to a village where there were even more lapsis. The villagers let us find the lapsis and take them as long as they were on the ground.
When we got back to school we found that we had picked 7 kilograms of lapsi. Not a bad collection and enough to make achar that would last us a couple of months. We were happy!
Now I get to the actual making of the achar part. A day later, we set up two tables. Last time around we had waited a couple of days and had to throw away some of the hard found lapsi so this time around we did not want to waste even a single plum.
Eena and I started researching the different spices that we would need. We were going to make spicy salty lapsi achar and sweet lapsi achar.
The ingredients for the sweet lapsi achar included sugar, fenugreek, fennel, cumin and thyme. The younger kids would love this.
To make the spicy salty achar we needed garlic, green chillies, salt, powdered red pepper, cinnamon, cloves, fenugreek, cumin, thyme and fennel. This is for the older people like me (though I cannot eat all that spicy!).
|Vidheha takes the plum photo and hey that is like 8 kilos.|
We prepared the material. The hog plum had been boiled. The spices and sugar and salt and everything else put in bowls. Basins were ready. Of course someone had to do something interesting. This started with Amulya smelling all the spices and that included taking a big sniff of the red pepper. The sneezing started and went on for many minutes until he himself was the color of the red chilly powder!
We started to peel the lapsis. This was a lot of fun. We had carefully washed our hands. Everyone got involved including the little ones. The lapsi achar that we make ourselves is a lot tastier than the achar that we just watch others make.
After peeling half of the lapsis we took them to the kitchen to make the sweet achar. Sabita did had turned on the big gas stove and she had a pot on and oil hot and cooking. The young ones were put far far away until the lapsi was put in.
Sabita didi showed us how to put the spices and mixed all the spices. Anita is older and more skilled so she got to work with the spices and knives more. All of us got to peel the garlic because that was safe. I am glad we did not need onions because then we would all be crying!
We took turns to stir the achar until it was well cooked with oils, sugar, and spices all mixed together well.
Next we started working on the spicy achar. This time around, we didn’t have to peel the lapsis because peels have a lot of vitamin and they help make the spicy achar even better, sourer and spicier. We added the peels that we had removed for the sweet achar.
Soon the oil was hot and we had to go away just to make sure we did not burn ourselves. Then Sabita didi put in the spices and we had a lot of fun sneezing even though we were far away. After washing hands again, the older kids like me, Anita, Eena, Shila and Teena got to stir the achar as it cooked.
Once the cooking was over, it was time to let things cool down and put them in the jar and have a taste. Having the taste is very popular around here. Everyone was crowding around and happy and told to stand in line.
Obviously, the sweet achar was everyone’s favorite. From the very next day we started having achar for lunch. We finished the sweet low spiced achar first. Even the youngest wanted the sweet achar that was somewhat spicy and hot after this bottle was done. We got to take some home to share with our family.
Now we are almost finished with the spices and I haven’t even finished this blog yet! Either we ate the achar too fast or I am writing too slow! I think it is the latter J.
Hope you had fun reading this. If we can make it very soon, we will run off to the forests again to pick lapsi. We are going camping soon and maybe there will be many lapsis to find.