Wednesday, November 11, 2009

WHB#209 : Chaltar Ambol (Sweet & Sour Elephant Apple)

Chalta, as known in Bengali, or Outenga in Assamese, is known as Elephant Apple or Wood apple universally(Dillenia Indica as scientifically) is native to Southeastern Asia, from India, Bangladesh and Sri lanka, east to southwestern China and Vietnam, and south through Thailand to Malaysia and Indonesia.
         In India, chalta is found in forests along the base of Himalayas from Nepal to Meghalaya.  It is also found in dry hilly regions of Bihar, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh in north and Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh in south India.  It bears green fruits which resemble large apples. Hence, it got its name, "elephant apple". It is a tropical acidic fruit, is eaten both ripe and unripe. It is common in chutneys and other pickled dishes. The fruit comes into season in the fall months, depending on the region, with maturity in October and November in Malaya and a longer harvesting period, October through March, in India.
     The fruit : The fruit of the elephant apple tree is enclosed in a hard husk, which must be cracked to get at the fruit. This can be accomplished by hurling the fruit at a hard surface or by using a hammer to crack the husk open. The elephant apple itself is very fleshy, with Astringent and resinous notes. It also has a strong smell, along with numerous small seeds.

 Image source :

 Image source :

Different uses of this fruit and parts of the plant :
  • The wood of the elephant apple is very hard and prized for construction applications in which durable wood is needed.
  • During the rainy season, the tree exudes a gum that is used in some parts of the world to replace gum arabic, and it appears in watercolors, inks, varnish, and other applications in which gum arabic might normally be used.
  • Products of the elephant apple tree are also used in some traditional Indian medicine, and the plant is said to be soothing to the digestion.  
  • The fruit is said to possess tonic and laxative properties, and is used for abdominal pains. It is also known as anti diabetic and has cooling effect on body.
  • The bark and leaves are astringent.
  • Dried leaves are used as a substitute for sand paper in polishing ivory and horn.
  • Culinary use : Fleshy sepals form the edible portion. Though the fruits contain sugars, still these taste pleasantly sour due to predominance of acid.  These are seldom eaten raw and are mostly used as flavouring in curries. These are also made into jams and jellies. The juice is sweetened with sugar to make a cooling and refreshing drink.
  • Do not use if pregnant

The recipe I want to share today of this fruit, is called Chaltar Ambol, is from Bengal(Bengali cuisine), my native place Kolkata. This is basically a sweet and sour Chutney, but little different from typical chutney. Chutney can be both sweet and sour, but Ambol is always a sour dish, served at the end of the meal to provide the refreshing touch of tartness to make the tongue anticipate the sweet dishes which is served just after Ambol or chutney. Ambol, is a cooking style of Bengal, where a sour dish is made either with some fruit or vegetable or even with small fish, the sourness is being produced by adding Tamarind pulp. But in this dish, as chalta, itself is an acidic soury fruit, jaggery is used to make it little sweet.

How to cut this fruit : The fruit flesh comes into layers and its outer covering is very hard. You have to be careful while cutting, as inside pulp is very slippery because of the gum. After you cut through the middle by a sharp knife, discard the central or the most inside seeded part. Then seperate layers and cut into thin lengthwise pieces.
For this recipe, we need not too ripe or not too young fruit, a yellow greenish elephant apple.

Ingredients :
Chalta(elephant fruit) : 2
Sugar Cane jaggery(akher gur) : 250 - 300 gms.(or use accrd. to your taste)
Dry red chilli : 1

Panch Phoron : 2 tsp.(is a mixture of cumin seed,     
black cumin seed, mustard seed, fennel seed and
fenugreek seed-mix each in equal quantity--No. 5 in the image)

Turmeric powder : a pinch
Oil : 2 tblsp.
Salt : a pinch
Flour(APF/Atta) : 1 tblsp. (optional, but recommended)

Method :
  • After cutting into thin slices, pressure cook it for 10 minutes with a pinch of turmeric. Take out and discard the water.
  • Heat 1 tblsp. oil in a pan, add whole dry red chilli and 1 tsp. of panch phoron. When seeds turn light brown and you get the aroma of fried seeds, throw the elephant apple or chalta pieces. Add little salt and stir for 2 minutes. Then add about 1 cup of water. Cook with covered lid for 7-8 minutes. 
  • Add the jaggery. Do not add jaggery all at a time, add little by little, let it melt, taste and if needed add some more. It will be a little sweet, more sour kind of taste. How much jaggery is needed depends on the sourness of the fruit. The consistency is kind of liquidy(you can see in the image). If you think, yours is very liquidy, mix 1 tblsp.of flour with 2 tblsp. of water and add into it. This will thicken the gravy and add some taste.
  • When you get the right consistency, pour into a serving dish. If a small pan, heat 1 tblsp. of oil, add rest of the panch phoron, when it splutters, pour this with oil into your serving dish over the ambol. This will add a fresh tempering flavour to the dish.
  • Chaltar Ambol is ready to serve. Serve in room temperature. Leftover can be kept in refrigerator and consume cold. It tastes even better.
This post is my entry to Weekend Herb Blogging(WHB)#209,

hosted this month by Paulchen's Foodblog, event started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen, now the event is managed by
Haalo of Cook (almost) Anything.
This is my second time contribution to this awesome event ...every time I feel proud to be a part of WHB event.

Elephant Apple on Foodista


Sharmila said...

Tumi chalta kothaye pele?!!! Dekhe toh amar kaandte icche korche (na na ... tomar recipe dekhe na ) ... nah ... ebar bari jetei hobe. :-)Kotodin khaini.

Indrani said...

Eta ebar kolkatai giye kheyechi ma er banano..ami ekhane pai na..amar bhisan priyo

shanthi said...

Fruit is new to me and nice post

sowmya.s said...

something so new...sure looks so good..

Sarah Naveen said...

new fruit and recipe to me...
Looks yummy...

Sudeshna said...

Tumi amai amar pishir barir katha mane koriye dile, ami pishir bari gelei chalta niye astam, oder ekta bishal chalta gaach ache. Amar chalta r narkel diye chatni bishan bhalolage :).
This is the first time on net I have seen somebody share this kind of recipe. Thanks

Priya said...

Wow this fruit is completely new to me..thanks for sharing the picture..Ambol looks amazing..

Home Cooked Oriya Food said...

Ou khatta in Orissa... Oh man! This is the best one among all the khattas... Awesome post!

LG said...

First of all thanks for the award Indrani. I had never heard about this apple. Thanks for introducing it to us. Curry looks spicy and yum.

Tina said...

Never heard about this fruit...Nice recipe..

Suparna said...

Very intersting read, this fruit is new to me , the preparation looks damn good. Thanks for the info packed post Indrani

Bong Mom said...


Ami bohukal age chaltar ambol kheyechi, mone o nei fruit ta kemon. Tomar ta dekhe khete ichche korche. Thanks eto informative post er jonno

workhard said...

That is something new..

Work from home India

Babli said...

Thanks a lot for showering me with lovely awards.
Onekdin por chalta shunlam. India te gelei khete parbo kenona Townsville to pawa jai na. Darun laglo chalta r chhobi dekhe r eto sundor bhabe likhechho r chhobi dekhei khete ichhe korchhe.

SGD said...

Daroon....bheeson bhalo laage!! ar chalta chiboteo daroon laage!! ;)))

Soma said...

This is one great post Indrani.. not just the awesome info, but also memories. Dida mara jabar pore ar konodin chalta r ombol khayi ni. I had no clue that that the flower is so beautiful.

Indrani, ami jani, i have not been able to visit you or a lot of people. ami ektu byasto hoye gechi and also i have been having some health issues.. nothing serious, but the blogging along with cooking has been side tracked a little bit. So sorry.

Tulip said...

Hii Indrani di, hope u r doing fine. I have missed many of your posts, will catch up soon. Chaltar ambol kottodin khaini, etao khete hobe bari gele. Anekdin pore tomar blog ta visit korlam...majkhane khub busy jachilo. ar ei new template ekta fresh look diyeche blog-e....valo lagche :)

Thank you for the awards :)

Nostalgia said...

Very nice.. thanks for sharing.

My cooking experiments said...

Hi first time here!Nice blog very informative!

Indrani said...

Thank you's nice to see that you all like it

my kitchen said...

New recipe,really good,want to taste

Joanne said...

Thanks so much for introducing me to this fruit! I love learning new things about food.

Anonymous said...

If you come to Florida, we can give you Chalta.

I just posted 10 photos of Chalta in Wikipedia.

If you go to Bing or Google and search for 'Elephant Apple', the top hit is going to be Wikipedia.

Or, you can go to Wikipedia directly and search for 'Elephant Apple'.

Wikipedia is OPEN EDIT, so may be you can contribute your knowledge on Chalta on that same page where i have the images.


Asit K. Ghosh
Rockledge, Florida

Appyayan's Fan Box

Appyayan on Facebook

My Followers


APPYAYAN | Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial License | Dandy Dandilion Designed by Simply Fabulous Blogger Templates