At a recent wedding, there was a surprise element on our vazha yellais. A chutney made with green guava by a local caterer. An appetising green in colour, it was smooth, creamy and delicious. It had the sour flavour that one associates with chaat.
The guava may have originated in Central America but after hundreds of years in the Indian subcontinent, it is considered local. When it comes to nutrition, the guava is to Asia what the apple is to the west. Guavas contain possibly the highest amount of Vitamin C present in fruits. They are equally rich in Vitamin A, manganese, which helps the body absorb other essecinal nutrients, and folate, which is necessary for conception and growth of the foetus.
Yet it is not a fruit that is found as often as some others at our homes. This may have something to do with the fact that it isn’t used much in cakes, pies or even salads. While I have heard of guava jellies, squashes and jams, I wonder how much of the actual fruit goes into making these condiments. Also given that these products are pink/peach in colour, they are probably made using the pink strawberry guava rather than the green, which are easier to find here.
The country variety ranges from a small one with dark green flesh to bigger ones that with a paler green exterior. I wasn’t too fond of the guava especially because of the seeds that wouldn’t break, no matter how hard they were bitten.
With guavas in season now and available everywhere here, the first dish I experimented with was, of course, the chutney. I didn’t want to ask the caterer for his secret recipe but going by the taste, I used onion, green chillies, tamarind, turmeric powder, rock salt and a few coriander leaves. In went the chopped guava, seeds and all, because discarding the latter meant losing so much flesh. Once it was all blended together, we had to strain the chutney. The smooth purée was tempered with dried red chillies, curry leaves and mustard seeds. One taste and I was supremely happy.