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9 Exceptional Indian Fruits

With an incredibly diverse climate, encapsulating everything from scorching tropics to frigid Himalayan mountain ranges, India is home to an abundance of different fruits – many of which are rarely seen in the West.

In fact, it’s the world’s second biggest fruit-producing country, losing out only to china!

During this article, we’ve covered 9 of the best Indian fruits to try, where they’re grown and some of the best recipes to enjoy them in.

1. Carambola (Star Fruit)

The distinctive ridges and waxy exterior of the carambola really set this fruit apart from the rest.

Colloquially known as a star fruit due to its appearance when sliced horizontally, unripe carambola have a shiny green colour, shifting to a golden yellow when ripe.

Unripe star fruit have a fresh, sour taste that make them perfect for pickles or chutney.

When ripe, the fruit develops a sweet, tangy flavour that some compare to a sour apple or kiwi fruit. Enjoy it in a salad, as a garnish to a cocktail or in recipes such as star fruit rasam.

Growing Areas: South and West India, including Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.


2. Kathal (Jackfruit)

Often referred to as the “the king of India” or the “king of fruits”, kathal is round in shape, large in size and has a spiky texture with a green or yellowish colouring.

Produced by the jack tree, the fruit can reach an incredible 55KG in weight, with mature trees producing up to 500 fruits per year. The inside of each fruit contains a large number of individual orange, fleshy seed pods.

When ripe, jackfruit tastes sweet and fruity, with an intense sugary smell, and is often used in desserts or breakfast dishes like sweetened dosa.

The unripe fruit has a neutral flavour and a stringy texture, comparable to chicken or pork. For this reason, it has become increasingly popular within the West as a meat substitute amongst vegans and vegetarians in recipes such as pulled jackfruit. For something more traditional, try it in a jackfruit sabzi.

Within the UK, tins of unripe jackfruit can be found in most Asian supermarkets. Fresh fruit can also sometimes be found when in season in areas with a large Asian population. Bethnal Green and Tooting are two examples of areas in London where we’ve spotted them.

Growing Areas: Most commonly associated with Southern India, jackfruit grows in multiple states including Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.


3. Tadgola (Ice Apples)

Tadgola is a round, small fruit with a thick peel that ranges from green to brown. It’s sweet and soft on the inside, with a jelly-like texture and translucent colour similar to a lychee.

Ice apples have an exceptionally refreshing,  juicy flesh which provides welcome relief during hot Indian summers.

Some popular ways to use this fruit include a drinks, such as tadgola coolers or mojitos, and tadgola custard.

Growing Areas: Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Goa, Kerala and parts of North and East India.


4. Japani Phal (Persimmon)

One of the sweetest and yummiest fruits around, Japani phal has a tomato-like appearance with a unique colour tone ranging between red and orange.

When ripe, persimmons have a flavour that has been compared to honey and an oh-so-soft texture. But beware an unripened persimmon: they’re very bitter and have an unpalatable, furry mouthfeel. A ripe persimmon will have a deep colour and be soft to the touch.

In our opinion japani phal are best enjoyed raw like an apple, or frozen and eaten using a spoon like a sorbet. But you can also use them to make jam, salsa or chutney.

Growing Areas: Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Nilgiri Hills.

Japani Phal

5. Mangustan (Mangosteen)

Known as the “queen of fruits”, you can recognise mangustan from its mango-like flavour, dark maroon-purple outer colour, and the tropical scent it infuses. It’s the same size as a small orange, with a white filling on the inside.

Aside from eating it raw, mangustan can be used to make drinks, such as a mangustan smoothie or mangustan gin cocktail.

Growing Areas: Southern parts of India like the Nilgiri Hills, Kanyakumari and Kerala.


6. Chalta (Elephant Apple)

A fruit loved by elephants (hence the name!), chalta is the same size as grapefruit, with a colour that ranges between yellow and green.

The taste of chalta’s pulp is sour, which makes it useful in a number of recipes like chaltar chutney, and chalta dal.

Growing Areas: States like Assam, Kolkata, Bihar, Odisha.


​7. Jungli Jalebi (Camachile)

The outer pods of the Jungli Jalebi are almost pea-like in appearance. Splitting one open reveals 6 to 10 black seeds, covered in a thick, sweet pulp with a pinkish hue.

One interesting fact about the camachile is that it was the inspiration behind the famous dessert jalebi, which it’s said it resembles.

Jungli jalebi can be enjoyed in a range of recipes, including madras thorn, or gorasambli nu bharelu shaak.

Growing Areas: Kerala, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Delhi.

Jungli Jalebi

8. Ambarella (Indian Hog Plum)

Ambarella is sometimes called Indian hog plum or wild mango. It has a taste that is between sweet pineapple and an acidic, unripe mango.

Plum-like in appearance, with a dappled yellow skin there are plenty of ways to use this fruit, such as ambarella curry, pickle or chutney.

Growing Areas: Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, and Goa.


9. Buddha’s Hand or Fingered Citron

This funny-looking fruit is unique in shape, as it looks like bright yellow fingers.

Famous for its fresh and floral scent, Buddha’s hand has a lemony flavour with a sweet pith that is used in many recipes, as is the zest.

It’s especially good for making sweets (candied citrus), tea and marmalades.

Growing Areas: North-Eastern India.


Buddha's Hand or Fingered Citron