Last time in Guess what’s this series, we dealt with a teeny–weeny pod. This time too, it is a pod, but a bigger one in contrast. Each of these pods weighs about 400-500 g and encloses 20-50 beans inside it. The pod or fruit looks like an elongated melon with tapering ends. It is green, purple or maroon when unripe. It picks a golden yellow hue with flecks of dark brown and black when ripe, as shown in the image. Take a closer look at it and guess what it is.
You think you know what it is, then cheers. Share with us what you know about it – it could be anything – any interesting tidbit about it – where you came across it? – is it common in your area? – any unusual way in which it is used.
The others who cannot quite make out what it is, don’t worry, for it seldom hits the market in the form of a pod. Right after harvest, it is processed by the farmers and only the beans are shipped to warehouses. From there, they travel to the manufacturers where they are further processed and transformed into spectacular products. Well, this pic was clicked in the market – but it was one of those rare occasions when the pod found its way up to the market – a special occasion, indeed – The Indian Food Festival, when produce and foods of the nation were exhibited. Now, have a go at the conjecturing act with the hints below:
- The pulp that is sweet is usually discarded. The bean is bitter, but the final product is a treat. The very mention of the bean, conjures up ‘sweet’ memories. Did I blurt out the answer in the very first clue?
- The beverage prepared from the bean powder is popular.
- The bean powder as well as the syrup is used as a flavouring agent.
- The butter from it is also used in the manufacture of cosmetics, soaps and ointments.
Got the answer? Now, be a sport and jot down your guess in the blog’s comment segment. Wait for the image that holds the answer, to be published in a couple of days.
Here is the image that reveals the identity of the bitter-sweet pod:
Look at the price board shout out the name of the pod in all BOLD fonts. Yeah, it is COCOA or CACAO, which is native to America. The world’s largest producer of the bean is however, Ivory Coast, followed by Ghana. The cultivation of cocoa in India for commercial purposes, commenced only a few decades ago. The South Indian states like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Karnataka monopolized the trade till the North Eastern state, Assam joined the cocoa bandwagon, last year. The Swiss dark chocolate NOIR manufactured by Chocolat Stella, receives its cocoa supply from Kerala. The cocoa is organic and fair trade certified.
- The pod grows directly from the trunk or from a large branch of the tree. The pulp which is usually discarded is sometimes used to make an alcoholic drink. The cocoa bean is white/light lavender in colour and is actually bitter. The farmers subject it to an initial fermentation and roasting, which gives it the dark brown colour and chocolaty flavour. Further roasting during manufacturing, steps like Dutching (alkalizing process) make it darker and more chocolaty; Conching (final mixing) renders it smooth. It is usually used in confectioneries, bakeries and dairies. Irrespective of age the silky, satiny chocolates that melt in the mouth rank high in everybody’s list of favourite foods. For a quick synopsis of how chocolate is manufactured, visit World Cocoa Foundation’s (WCF) page on How Chocolate is Made.
- Hot Drinking Chocolate is a cocoa beverage that is popular.
- Chocolate-flavoured milk, ice-cream, cake and pudding make lip-smacking desserts.
- Cocoa butter is a stable fat which is solid at room temperature and melts at body temperature. This property is exploited in making chocolates as well as cosmetics. The butter has antioxidants in it which prevent rancidity and prolong its shelf-life to 2-5 years. It is widely used in anti-stretch mark creams, emollients, soaps and body lotions.
The aroma from my cup of hot drinking chocolate is so inviting, that I am going to leave you at this, go right now and relish every drop of it.
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