Sunday, 4 December 2011




          Star fruit is a notable blessing of Mother Nature to mankind. Other than providing a plentitude of vitamin C, star fruit has got certain curative properties too. It is widely believed that star fruit juice has the power to relieve people of phlegmatic problems and that it can lower cholesterol levels. Star fruit juice when combined with mosambi (sweet lemon / citrus limetta - a type of orange with hard peel and sweet yellowish pulp abundantly grown in India) juice gives you a delicious health drink. 

          Konkanis often roast the ripe star fruit and pound it along with some sugar cane rock candy. The juice is sieved and administered to little children (2 to 4 years old) suffering from acute cold and phlegm. Children also love to eat ripe star fruit with the ridges removed and cut into star-like slices and sprinkled with sugar. It is so tasty, adults too find it irresistible. Karmbala umman is one of favourite desserts of Konkani people. I am sure you will love this dish.


     1)    Fully ripe star fruit/carambola (chathura puli or yenu puli in Malayalam, Karambal in Konkani) (do not use raw or immature star fruit) – 1 kg.

     2)    Jaggery (unrefined cane sugar) – 400 gm.
     3)    Urad dal (split black gram lentils) – 1 teaspoon
     4)    Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
     5)    Fenugreek seeds – ¼ teaspoon
     6)    Dry hot red chilies – 5 Nos.
     7)    Coconut oil or other cooking oil – 1 tablespoon
     8)    Tender curry leaves – 3 sprigs
     9)    Salt – 1¼ teaspoons

To Cook:

          Wash the star fruit. Cut off 5 mm. pieces from both ends. Cut away the ridges and set aside. Break each of the dry hot red chilies into 2 or 3 pieces and set aside. Pull out the tender curry leaves from their sprigs and set aside.

          In a small pan, put in the jaggery together with 50 ml. of water. Melt on low heat stirring frequently. When fully melted, sieve and set aside.

          Set a flat vessel or pan on high heat. Spread out the star fruit. Pour in enough water to submerge the star fruit. Tip in the salt. When it comes to a boil, turn down the heat and cook for 10 minutes. Pour in the melted jaggery and cook for five more minutes. Taste and add more salt if necessary. If the star fruit syrup tastes too sour, add a little sugar to adjust to your taste (If the star fruit is a little less ripe or immature, it may be sourer. If it is too tender, this dessert will be a disaster).

          Switch off the heat and cover with a lid. Set a skillet or small pan on low heat. Pour in the oil. Throw in the mustard seeds. As soon as they are about to finish popping, put in the fenugreek seeds. When the fenugreek starts to crackle, tip in the urad dal. Stir till the urad dal turns light brown. Now tip in the broken dry hot red chilies. Stir once and put in the curry leaves. Switch off the heat and tip over the entire contents of the pan into the star fruit dish. Stir well and cover with lid. Let rest for 30 minutes. Your delicious karmbala umman is now ready to serve.


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