I bet a lot of you are scratching your heads at this one. Stone apples? What?
I bet some of you are thinking that I made it up. Stone apples don’t really exist.
But you know what? They do. They really really do.
And I had one. Or, um, parts of one.
My mother in law, as usual when she and my father in law come for a visit, brought food. This time it was mangos and stone apples. Mangos are normal, which is why they’re not the villain of the story. Stone apples are. 😀
Stone apples are called that because the fruit is inside of the, er, stone. Which is really just a very very hard outer hull. I knocked on it with my knuckles and, yep, it feels like stone. Bizarre, right?
Stone apples are also called wood apples, but here, wood apples are a whole other fruit, I kid you not. I’ll tell you about those another time. 🙂 Stone apples are also called beli in Sinhalese.
My father in law tells me that you just bite into the fruit. Um, no. I’d like to keep my teeth. 😀
Fahim tells me that people would dash the fruit against the ground to break them open. My mother in law, who has more class than either of the men, breaks them against our tile floor. Happily, I had enough warning to go upstairs and grab my camera before she commenced. 😀
In the above picture, you can see two whole stone apples on the plastic bag with the outer shell of an already-emptied stone apple shell. Another piece of empty shell is near the bowl at the bottom.
I was told that the apples are steamed before opening – my mother in law did that in Kurunegala before they came. Unsteamed, the fruit is raw and bitter. Steamed, it’s much better, although it still has a bitter aftertaste that I wasn’t that fond of. Fahim and his parents, though, like the bitter aspect of the fruit.
The pulp is scooped out of the, er, shell. Sugar is added – about 1/4 cup or so to four stone apples – and then the fruit is mashed. Some people, I’m told, will use a blender to make it more smooth. It’s then eaten.
Alternately, the stone apple fruit, with the sugar, can be made into a juice with the addition of water or water and other juices. Lemon or lime juice added to the juice is very very nice. 🙂 I’ve had it that way, as a juice, and rather enjoyed it. The flavour is reminiscent of peaches.
From the health perspective, beli is a clear winner. Everything, from the bark, roots, leaves, flowers, and fruit, are used for medicinal purposes in Ayurveda.
Have you had beli? In what form? What did you think of it?