The Wood Apple is a strange fruit. I came across it for the first time a few months back. The fruit is hard shelled and a greenish brown in colour. Breaking it open takes some strength. The open fruit will reveal a funky smelling sticky brown fibrous pulp and small white seeds. This rather unremarkable fruit can surprise you though. I was, first by this summer cooler and then by this Wood Apple Coconut Milk Shake.
As I mentioned previously, the Wood Apple is different from the Stone Apple or Bael, a popular fruit in Northern India. The wood Apple is native to the Indian sub-continent. It is also known as Kothbel, Kaitha, Vilam Pazham, Belada Hannu, etc across the country. The pulp of this fruit is quite astringent and mouth puckeringly sour. It reminds one of an extra sour tamarind. Wood Apple has a lot of medicinal properties attributed to it in Ayurveda and folk medicine.
I had read about the Wood Apple but came across it only recently. Unripe Wood Apples are greenish brown in colour and have a slight “bounce” when dropped. Completely ripe fruit turn dark brown, have a stronger aroma and lose the bounce. It usually ripens in about 10 days.
You will need a hammer, a heavy blunt knife, or some such implement to break open the shell of the Wood Apple. Otherwise pound it on concrete or a hard floor and it should break. Scrape out the fibrous innards and soak it in some water for a few hours or so. Then rub well with your fingers to extract the pulp. Squeeze out the fibre and seeds and you’ll be left with a thick, somewhat viscous brown pulp. This can be refrigerated for up to a month.
This Wood Apple Coconut Milk Shake is a take on the Divul Kiri of Sri Lanka. Divul is the Sinhala word for Wood Apple and Kiri means milk. So Divul Kiri is a sort of Wood Apple Milk Shake. I’ve seen recipes that use regular milk or coconut milk. The sweetener of choice is sugar, and sometimes Kithul syrup which is the sap from the fishtail palm flower/ jaggery palm.
My recipe uses Wood Apple pulp, thick coconut milk, powdered jaggery, and cardamom for flavour. Top it up with vanilla ice-cream for a delightful summertime shake.
Wood Apple Coconut Milk Shake
- 2 wood apples
- 2 cup thick coconut milk or cream
- 4 to 5 pods cardamom crushed
- Powdered jaggery or brown sugar to taste
- 2 cups vanilla ice-cream to serve
- Break the wood apples and take the pulp out. Soak the pulp in 2 cups of water for about an hour or so. Using your fingers or a fork, break down the soaked pulp. Strain the fibre and seeds out pressing the pulp through a strainer. Discard the seeds and solids. You can refrigerate this pulp for a few days if not using immediately.
- Use chilled wood apple pulp and coconut milk/ cream, ideally, for this shake. Make the shake fresh just before serving. Run the wood apple pulp, coconut milk or cream, powdered jaggery and cardamom in the blender till smooth. Divide the mixture equally between 4 tall glasses.
- Top each glass with a generous scoop of vanilla ice-cream. Garnish with toasted and chopped nuts and mint. Serve immediately.