Growing up in a sylvan sleepy hamlet in far flung Assam had its own sublime blessings – the freshest of indigenous seasonal produce graced our lunches and dinners.
That indescribable guilty pleasure of savouring the seasons first mango. While perched up high in the trunks of the ancient gnarled mango tree in our backyard.
Or that pristine joy of having the first ilish of the season. In a piquant chilli-riddled mustard yoghurt gravy.
Or that bliss of relishing the season’s first koraishutir kochuri. Piping hot. A delicious aloo dum in tow.
But it also did imply that my gastronomic universe was restricted largely to produce of the region. And the little that came in, post a long and arduous journey, from Guwahati and sometimes, though more rarely, from Calcutta.
So it was, much later in life, in fact only after I had moved out of Assam (yes, you did hear me sigh !!) that I got acquainted to the kiwifruit.
And it did take me, my palate accustomed to the divine honey sweetness of mangoes that flourished in our backyard, quite a while to get used to the unique mild sweet, punctuated by crisp tart, taste of the kiwifruit.
And till a couple of weeks back, I had lived in blissful ignorance, thinking all the kiwifruit I ever saw, in disciplined rows adorning the supermarket shelves (and of late, increasingly even the fruit shops in my neighborhood) had been imported from New Zealand and China.
So when a friend announced excitedly in our community whatsapp group that she had heard of someone who grew his own kiwifruit in Himachal and was ready to deliver the fruit to our doorsteps, needless to mention, I was ecstatic.
And even before I had blinked, I had ordered for myself a big box of Himachali kiwifruit.
The kiwis arrive. Pristine and gorgeous.
Then the agonizing wait. Leaving the fruit in open air, checking on them every couple of hours or so, to allow them to ripen gracefully.
And then that phase when it’s an overdose of kiwifruit – kiwifruit in the morning, kiwifruit post lunch and yes, kiwifruit is my evening snack as well.
Time now for a kiwifruit dessert ?
And before I realize, the pots and pans are out.
And my kiwi lime ginger muffins are happily in the warmth of the oven.
Kiwi Lime Ginger Muffins. Gorgeous Himachali kiwifruit, mellow sweet interrupted by a crisp tart. The refreshing burst of citrus. The pleasant warmth of ginger. Just a subtle hint of chillies.
Who ever said muffins were boring ?