Chikoo ice cream

Chikoo ice cream

Chikoo (also called sapota) are not the prettiest fruit.They’re brown and mottled and slightly furry. I’m not sure what possessed me to buy two of them on our super-bodega traveling trip to Patel’s Cash and Carry. Yet buy two I did. I’d never heard of chikoo fruit, I had no idea what they tasted like or how to use them! Therein lies the very heart of the edgy and exciting fun that is super-bodega traveling! When I researched the little fruits, you cannot imagine my excitement to learnt that they are exceptionally sweet and malty, and that they taste like caramelized pears! Can you even imagine?!? Why don’t we eat them all the time!

So I brought my two little chikoo fruits home and waited for them to grow nice and soft, and I schemed to make ice cream with them, because it seemed like a nice way to let the flavor shine through against a simple yet tasty and creamy canvas. I cut into the first chikoo fruit. Very pretty, soft amber flesh. Crazy looking spiky shiny black beetly seeds. First taste – swoon! They’re delicious! I cut it into a bowl. I cut into the second fruit. A little firmer and paler. Took one very small bight. Tasted fine, but seconds later, my entire mouth was dry as can be. Turns out when they’re not ripe, they’re astringent. D’oh! So I had one little chikoo fruit to flavor the near-quart of custard and cream I had incautiously concocted. I tried to think of other things I could add. I let it sit in the fridge. I fussed and stressed.

And then David wisely said that if the whole idea of the ice cream was to showcase the chikoo fruit, obviously, what was needed was more chikoo fruit. We had the nicest impromptu afternoon adventure! We stopped to look for ebony wood. We went to an antique store. We went to Patel’s Cash and Carry, and I bought even more inexplicable produce! I bought frozen chikoo fruit. I bought a can of chikoo fruit, and I bought 4 very very ripe actual chikoo fruits. We can’t afford to go out to lunch at the moment, but we bought two fresh fat 79 cent samosas, which tasted as nearly perfect as you can imagine.

So I added the pulp of 4 more chikoos to my chikoo ice cream. (Minus the pieces that Malcolm, now a fan of the chikoo, snuck from the bowl). It turned out very very delicous! It did taste malty and caramel-y, with a lovely sweetness and a pleasing texture. And I still have frozen and canned chikoo fruits to fuel my future scheming!

This song Deewangi Deewangi was playing in the store when we selected our chikoo fruits. Yesterday my sons made a fort/pirate ship out of blankets on the couch. When I played this song, they both stood up at the helm of their ship, and did an instantly perfectly choreographed dance. Joy!
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Super bodega traveling – stop number 2

Urad coins & curry leaves

I can’t believe it’s been two months since our last super bodega travelling excursion! You know how it is, booking flights, finding hotels, packing… Of course I’m joking, but it’s amazing how hard it can be to fit even a short trip into a routine. The days fly by, and feel so full and busy, but when I look back I can’t remember what I’ve done! I’m not complaining, though! I like my days – I like thinking about cooking dinner, spending an hour at the playground after school, walking around this town in the advancing springtime. Tomorrow does creep at a petty pace, but I don’t think it signifies nothing. I couldn’t say what it signifies, but it feels wonderful to me. Sorry – sidetracked!

Stop number two in our super bodega travels brought us, on a warm and sunny day, to Patel’s Cash & Carry. Speaking of wonderful! The store felt HUGE! And so full of amazing and surprising food! I love Indian food. It’s one of those cuisines I feel like I know something about. I eat Indian take-out every chance I get. I’ve got two cookbooks! (Madhur Jaffrey and Julie Sahni, in case you were wondering). I’ve loved it since I was small, and my boys (still small!) love it, too. Walking into this store made me realize how incredibly little I know. Which is (part of) the joy of bodega traveling. You get to see, beyond the takeout menus, a glimpse into a rich and diverse history that the cookbooks only hint at. As David said, you could write a cookbook on the flour aisle alone.

whole moong dal

Here’s what we bought…Kulfi for the boys – rose and pistachio flavored. They couldn’t wait to eat it, and it melted in their hands as we walked around the store. Curry leaves. I’ve seen these before, but never cooked with them. What a remarkable smell! A little earthy and smoky, but still very green, if you know what I mean. Two chikoo fruits. (Very excited about these!) Urad flour, black salt (volcanic and sulfuric! rotten eggy), whole moong dal (beautiful!!), Tinda (in a can), which is called baby indian pumpkin, lotus root, and different kinds of snack mixes, which my little ones eat like hungry mice with their whiskers on fire from the spiciness! Then we couldn’t let the boys back in the car because their kulfi was so melted, so they ate on a grassy bank, and Isaac got rose-flavored kulfi on the tip of his nose and in his eyelashes.

For the next few days we’ll be cooking with these, and we’ll let you know how it goes. We’ve got big plans!!

Here’s Donald Byrd’s Places and Spaces. I love it, and, to me, it’s about traveling without going very far from home.
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