Nigeria is blessed with a wide variety of fruits and some are peculiar to only us. Do you know some of them? and if you do, how well do you know them.
1. Velvet Tamarind
You will be surprised to find out that you already know this fruit as licky-licky, awin or icheku. The name comes from the black velvety shell that covers its tasty orange pulp. Velvet tamarind usually shares a season as udara (African star apple), and is found abundantly in the southeastern part of Nigeria. For those of you who are yet to taste the goodness of this tamarind, the velvety shell is broken to show an orange pulp which has a sweet and tangy flavor. This pulp is sucked or chewed, and the seed in the center spat out. Tamarind could be eaten as a snack or the pulp could be soaked in water to prepare a tamarind drink which dilutes the tangy flavor of the fruit.
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2. Ube Okpoko/ Atili
The fruit known as ube okpoko by the Igbos and atili by the Hausas is like ube (African pear) yet so different. This small-sized fruit is similar in size to an olive but is oiler than the African pear. It has a rich, creamy pulp like the avocado. Ube okpoko is sold in cellophane bags which contain about a dozen cooked fruits. It could be eaten straight or sprinkled with salt for extra flavor. Atili oil could be extracted from the fruit. Regarded as local olive oil; this green oil could be used in cooking, as it is more nutritious and flavorful than the regular cooking oil.
3. Rose Apples
These small tear-drop shaped fruits are roughly 1 to 2 inches in diameter. The yellowish-green flesh gets flushed with pink when it ripens and gives off a highly aromatic scent reminiscent of a blooming rose, and offers a sweet floral flavor, comparable to rose water. The flesh has a crisp, almost crunchy texture when ripe and freshly picked. In the center contains one to four small brown seeds that are loose within the core. When the fruit is shaken, the seeds rattle inside the small cavity. However, only the creamy flesh is consumed as the seeds and roots are considered poisonous.
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Although this deadly and delicious tropical fruit is Jamaica’s national fruit, it bears its origin from the western part of Africa. Known as ishin by Yorubas, ackee grows on evergreen trees that can reach 50 feet tall. The real fruits are pods, grown in clusters, which go from green to red and split open when ripe. Ackee is such an unusual fruit, although extremely delicious when ripe; the unripe fruits are quite deadly. Only the soft creamy inner flesh of the ackee which has a slightly nutty flavor is edible as the seeds of an unripe fruit are poisonous.
5. June Plums
This oval-shaped fruit is a wonder with its thick skin and the tropical bouquet of flavor it produces when harvested. This fruit is best eaten when fully ripe; at this stage, its taste is a fusion of mango, apple and pineapple flavors. June plums are commonly used in making delicious jams and juices. They are also a great pickling ingredient and a traditional accompaniment to ice cream and yogurt. One thing to bear in mind when eating this tropical wonder; do not take a bite just yet, as beneath the delicious creamy flesh lies a spiky seed.
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