Winter, spring, summer, or autumn, Nepal is never lacking in delicious fruits, with a wide and diverse variety available as per season. Winter is the season ruled by tangy, sweet, and citrusy suntala (oranges), which you’ll find being sold everywhere, including heaped on four-wheeled wooden platforms (you could say, mobile shops). In some places you may see them being sold from vans that have a sign above, reading, “Jumla ko suntala’. That means the oranges have come from the remote far-western district of Jumla, which is renowned for its tasty oranges and apples, besides its nutritious red rice. Winter is also the season for pomelo and apples.
Spring is when everybody looks forward to the first arrivals of the ‘king (or queen) of fruits’. Yes, you guessed right—it’s the gorgeous aanp (mango). One can safely say that it is the most popular fruit in the country, and it’s a fact that all foreigners living here, or on a visit, find it simply irresistible. There are quite a few types of mangoes, among which ‘Malda’ is the most popular. That’s not to say that other varieties like ‘Bombay’ and ‘Dusshera’ are not tasty, it’s just that Malda has a definite edge in both taste and lasting for a longer time. In fact, real mango lovers buy a considerable quantity of yet-to-ripen Malda, and wait for it ripen naturally, which takes a few days or even a week, according to the stage it’s in. You can eat them at any stage, even if not fully ripe, they simply taste great.
In my younger years, we used to have hard green Malda mangoes strewn all over the floor beneath our beds, they were so inexpensive! Especially in cities in the plains, where nearby villages had huge mango orchards, in which branches of the magnificently foliaged trees bowed low because of generous profusion of the heavy fruits. Cheaper still was the cost of mangoes in towns bordering India, due to the fact that the neighboring Indian states, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal, were (still are) prolific producers of many varieties of mango. Anyway, gone are the days when one could buy Malda by the sack-load without batting an eyelid, nowadays you’re lucky if you can buy a couple of kilos at a time! A side note: Malda mangoes come from West Bengal, where there is a district called Malda.
This is also the season for mewa (papaya), the large yellow fruit with a nicely rounded sweet taste. What’s more, they are a great aid for digestion, and thus is a prized food for patients suffering from jaundice, when the liver takes a hit, affecting digestion and absorption. The next most eagerly anticipated fruit to make its presence felt, after the mango, is the juicy lychee. You’ll find plenty of this fantastic fruit, with its red blistered skin, being sold in clumps during mid-May and June. The corrugated red skin hides a treasure—the temptingly sweet white fruit—the lychee is practically the prince among fruits.
Gorge yourself on these delicious fruits—mango and lychee—for they will not be here long, and you’ll have to wait another year to do so. Now, along with the monsoon at its pouring best (August-September) also comes the yellow-skinned amba (guava). It is not regarded very highly, sad to say, because one can find tree-loads of these fruits in the front or backyard of many houses, and as they say, familiarity brings contempt (or, at least, less respect). Anyway, many folks may not know that guavas contain more vitamin C than oranges, so they are excellent for your health. At the same time, keep in mind that too many guavas can give you constipation because of the high fiber content that’s hard to digest.
Come the fall, and you can now enjoy the brown naspati (pear) a pretty humble fruit that’s not at all expensive, costing far less than mangoes and lychees. The naspati, though, may be a notch above the even humbler guava in the ‘respect’ aspect. They taste really great with a little salt and chili. As will the bimiras, a somewhat strange citrus that looks like a large deformed orange, which is available during the great festival season of Dashain and Tihar in October-November, along with bhogates (palmellos), tear-drop shaped citrus fruits of large size, with yellow-green skin. Beneath the inch-thick pith is deep red flesh with the sweetness of orange and sourness of grapefruit. These are festival fruits, and make for an incredibly tasty salad-like dish when concocted with tangy spices, salt, sugar, and chili, with lots of the last.
Now, by now you may be thinking, “What about kera (banana)?” Well, you can get bananas throughout the year, and you have a choice of at least seven varieties. Besides all the fruits mentioned above, there are plenty more kinds of fruits in Nepal, and that’s why Nepal is a fruit lover’s paradise.