Here it is, the king of 'kudampulis' or garcinia or the 'Perumpalam puli'!
Perumpalam is a little village on an island in the Vembanad lake in Alappuzha district where there are trees bearing loads of garcinia in every yard.
This variety of the fruit is distinct in that the garcinia cloves are large, protected by a thick outer covering. The fruit that grows here is soft inside. Once dried and ready for use in curries, it has a distinct flavour without the bitter and tangy taste that garcinia or kudam puli is otherwise famous for.
“You just need two cloves to turn out a pot of delicious fish curry”, says KK Chandran of Changarappilly house, who has been growing, farming and preserving garcinia for more than two decades. The puli farmer has no need for markets or middlemen to sell his famous ware. Buyers come to his home to buy however much they need. “There are folks who buy up to five kilos of puli”, he says.
The trees generally need no special manure. Almost all homesteads have one or more trees in their yard. They flower and bear fruit on their own. They have their own way of propagation. Male and female trees coexist with the female bearing fruit. But for proper propagation, there has to be a male tree within a radius of 1 km. New saplings sprout from seeds. It takes eight years for a sapling to grow into a full tree. The season starts from May and goes up to August with fruits growing to full size from December to March. The seeds appear within two weeks of flowering. Full grown fruits can be picked within a period of a month and a half.
The full blown fruit is washed, broken in half, de-seeded and thoroughly dried. The dried fruits are smoked to give them their dark hue. They are then treated to a salt-coconut oil rub to keep them fresh from mould.
Perumpalam soil is naturally rich in manure and the presence of water all around keeps the soil moist always. The island is blessed with direct sunlight which helps the trees to bring out their best yield. All these factors … soil, sunlight and moisture are what make Peurmpalam puli the best in its domain.