Does the title to this narrative make you wonder what’s a PRICKLY PEAR ?? If yes please continue reading to know more….
The dry and semi arid regions of Gujarat witness the rampant growth of a wild weed called the Gando Baaval ( Prosopis Juliflora) and few species of cactus. One of these cactus species is the Haathla Thor (Opuntia Ficus-Indica). The cactus derives it vernacular name Haathla Thor because its has a shape similar to our palm . The cactus plant is widely used by the farmers in the region to fence their farms, as it remains green, bears flowers and fruits all through the year. Its delicate red colored fruits are called Prickly Pears. Prickly because they have very fine spines on exterior that can prickle us badly and require special care while handling.
The Prickly Pears are called ‘Findla’ in Gujarati and are widely consumed in the region of Saurashtra – personally this was quite a revelation when we visited PRAKRUT the organic food festival in Rajkot. There were number of food counters promoting Fildla drinks but there was an entire range of goodies made out of the fierce Findla at the ‘Lokmitra’ stall from chocolate to chikki to laddoo to ice-cream and of course the sherbet made with organic honey. All these goodies in beautiful pink colour took us by surprise. We were like ‘do they rally eat a fruit from a cactus??’ Everyone was talking about all the exceptional and nourishing qualities the fruit had from its cancer fighting abilities to boosting the immune system to increasing the iron levels in our body. SO we went ahead enjoyed the goodies during the food festival and brought back a bottle of Findla Sherbet made with organic honey.
At home apart from enjoying the sherbet I had to take refuge of the Google for some more information on this Cactus fruit… The Prickly Pear is a very popular fruit and juice beverage in the west especially the Latin American countries, its medicinal properties makes it popular in the alternate medicine world. It helps with weight management, dental health, gives relief from Arthritis, gout and muscular strain….
This particular produce as well as its products aren’t very popular amongst the urban population hence, we thought using this platform to spread awareness about it so next time, now that the summer is upon us, instead of reaching out to any artificial juices, bottled or aerated drinks and drink powders you may choose to have a fruit drink that is locally produced, is inexpensive and actually improves the quality of your health and yes it tastes wonderful too…I plan to make some ice cream with it too…
On our way back home we actually took notice of the live fences made of the barbed Cactus around the farms and shot some pictures…..the deep red coloured fruits you see are the Prickly Pears and if you can notice the fine hair like strands they are thorns as well. These fruits are harvested by hand.. unaware of the fine thorns I tried picking one and was removing them from my fingers for next one hour 🙄😔
Since this is not a recipe post I am not sharing the drink recipe but the picture at the beginning is about the mocktail made using the Prickly pear sherbet+coconut water+lemon juice+ginger juice…..
Findla Sherbet can be found at outlets selling organic produce or the Khadi Gramudyog outlets