Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together – Vincent Van Gogh

It is that time of the year when Bangalore is all decked in color. The flame of the forest is flaming, the Bougainvilleas are magenta pink, the Burmese Padoga is in full bloom, so are the TV trees, even the Croton leaves have taken on a bright yellow in the warm sun … and this is one time of the year when I wish I had wings 🙂

This is also the time of year when the familiar voice of the Thaati Nungu seller fills the evening air. Thaati Nungu in Kannada or palm fruit in English is a delicious translucent soft jelly like fruit. It is the fruit of the Palmyrah tree or toddy palm and comes encased in a hard purple casing.  If you’ve the quizzing type don’t forget that the Palmyrah tree or Nongu as it is called in Tamil is the state tree of Tamil Nadu.

Thaati Nungu

The Thaati Nungu looks very similar to a small coconut. In each nut are a set of three fruits with a light brown covering. Watching the Thaati Nungu seller shaving off the husk to carefully extract the fruits without cutting into them is a treat.  The task involves skill as the husk is large, the fruit itself tiny, heart shaped and a small palm size. Each fruit contains a small quantity of water and the Thaati Nungu peeler must ensure he does not cut the fruit and cause the water to drip away.

As dusk falls over Bangalore the Thaati Nungu seller sets out on his bicycle with a large flat bamboo basket on the bicycle bracket. Perched on it is a kerosene lamp surrounded by the brown Thaati Nungu fruit. He walks from lane to lane calling out “Thaati Nungu” in a clear loud voice so characteristic of hawkers.

One of the ways to determine if the fruit is fresh is to actually pick and press it. The fresh ones are soft to the touch, moist and have a jelly like feel. The stale ones are hardish. When you try to eat them they taste more like mature coconut only a bit rubbery.

To eat the Thaati Nungu fruit you have to gently peel off the soft brown skin around it and take a large bite, turning your head back to prevent the juice inside from dripping down your chin and wasting away.

Until recently I thought the Thaati Nungu fruit was found only in south India but it seems not. Thaati Nungu is available in Maharashtra and Gujarat as well, where it is called Taadgola.

Thaati Nungu has more than a few resemblances to a coconut and that includes its taste which is very similar to tender coconut. The fruit is not just delicious but very refreshing too and come April I ensure I get my fill of this seasonal delight while it lasts.

The fruit is known to be rich in calcium and phosphorus. It also contains B complex vitamins like thiamine and riboflavin and on a tiring evening this cooling fruit instantaneously fills me with energy.

So the next time you hear the Thaati Nungu seller call out don’t forget to rush out and buy a few.

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Comments on: "Thaati Nungu for the tired soul" (11)

  1. Keith Wilson said:

    Hi! Having last eaten a Nungu in 1959 when I lived and went to school in Bangalore I today at last have managed to trace this magnificent fruit in yours and other websites. Do you have any knowledge of them being exported either fresh or canned to anyone in the UK? Many thanks.

  2. Hi Keith, Thank you for your comment, you sure have an interesting query, unfortunately I don’t know of anyone exporting the fruit, but if I do hear of such info will pass it on.

  3. Your article makes me nostalgic. I can recall wonderful memories in the summer heat of Madras(Chennai) how we kids used to crowd around the Nungu vendor as he cracks open and removes the fruit deftly with his expert hands. You know what…I like to eat it with the outer skin. It will taste a bit bitter but the bitterness mixed with the sweet jelly like flesh and water inside is heavenly.

    • Hi Sathish, Thanks for your comment. Never tried Thaati Nungu with its light brown coat of skin, now that you made it sound interesting, I will 🙂

  4. saranya said:

    Hey what do you say thaati nungu(Kannada), Paana nungu(tamil) in english.

    Have you have tried thaati kalu(Kannada), Pana kal(Tamil).

    It was nice when I tried it for the first time. A natural drink which is really helpful to our body when he have it in empty stomach.

    People were saying girls should not have that but I just tried for a curiosity.

    Hey Keith,

    Lets see in the future, for the foreign countries that delicious fruit will be exported.

  5. saranya said:

    Borassus flabellifer, the Asian Palmyra palm, Toddy palm, Sugar palm, or Cambodian palm,

  6. Sajan Mani said:

    Nothing can beat this awesome fruit in summer time, loved the street hawkers selling and as kids managed to eat a lot. Missing it very much… But appreciate your effort in bringing back the nostalgic feeling of nungu – from chennai.

    • Thank you Sajan for your comment. The more I think of the Nungu the more I love it. I recently introduced my mom who was down from Goa to this delicious fruit and she kept stopping the Nungu seller every evening as he passed by our building 🙂

  7. ah!!! and I was wondering what they were selling in the streets of Bangalore..I thought they were little coconuts,was looking for the info when i struck your blog..i struck gold!! Thanks for the info..now for some Thaati Nungu for the soul 🙂

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