When we were in school, we would eagerly wait for the vendor’s call: kaale kaale phalse, sharbet wale phalse, thande meethe phalse, bade raseele phalse. And this call would make kids in the neighbourhood run out in the scorching sun during the summer vacation to buy a handful. The phalsa fruit has very little to chew on. The purple fruit—around a centimetre in diameter—is sweet and sour, and has only a thin layer of greenish white pulp over its seed.
What surprised me the most was that the vendor’s basket would have just a few fruits. I could not visualise the business sense of roaming around with a nearly empty tokri (basket). We used to make up stories that the phalsa shrub was full of thorns and the vendor was a hero who braved the thorns to get the fruit. But in reality, the phalsa shrub is thorn-free. And the reason he used to bring it in small quantities is that the fruit ripens in small batches; they have to be handpicked individually, and, have a short shelf-life.
Falsa fruits are small berries that grow on the tree Grewia asiatica. The fruit, known as Phalsa in India, resembles black currents but are not the same. While black current shrubs do produce similar small, glossy, purple berries, they are native to parts of Europe and northern Asia. Falsa shrubs, on the other hand, are native to southern Asia, including Pakistan, India, and Cambodia, and are widely cultivated in other tropical countries.
Since my Grandfather was from pre-partition Lahore, he used to get this chutney made during the phalsa season. It is a great relish and totally unputdownable. Now when I google this relish I realise it’s importance during the iftar meals. Enjoy this goodness until it lasts!
Ingredients : Fhalsa/Grewia Asiatica fruit, rise water, saffron, sugar, black salt, chilli, mango powder.
Weight : 200 gms
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