Monday, August 10, 2009

Lapsi or Titaura, anyone?


People familiar with Kalimpong and thereabouts may be familiar with "Lapsi". If you're wondering still, then may be if I said, "the red tamarind-type thing which is a little sour, a little sweet and a little spicy", that could ring a bell or two? This is not to be confused with the commonplace red tamarind sold around Delhi and up north. Lapsi is Nepalese in origin and is commonly found in various forms around the North East.

I first had a taste of this addictive, finger-licking-good whatchamacallit way back in school. A friend of mine would bring little packets of the stuff for us to savour. I remained blissfully unaware of the actual name, ignorantly supposing it to be the common tamarind.

However, I recently found myself trawling the bazaars of Kalimpong looking for the "red tamarind thing", determined not to disappoint a friend back home who had specifically asked for it. I located hoards of it in a small shop run by a crotchety-looking woman, who grunted when I asked her if this was "imli". I take it she meant to say, "Whatever, stupid tourist."

Later, I found that this is actually called Lapsi (pronounced "Lopsy"), which is really a fruit grown in Nepal. The fruit is then used to make various condiments like the sour-sweet-spicy sticky stuff ("Titaura"), pickles, chutneys and whatnot. The plain dried/boiled fruit is sold as well, which looks sort of like an apricot, but tastes and feels like a jujebe of sorts.

More Googling turned up that the stuff is exported from Nepal to the west. I laughed when I discovered that each tiny packet retails for something like $9 on the net, when I picked it up for Rs 5 in Kalimpong! Let's take a moment and gloat.

Really gloat.

Gloat like there's no tomorrow.

Oh, and this goes out to the gossip trawlers (you know who you are): if you're wondering why I've been savouring sour-sweet weird things, no, there isn't one in the oven! I've always loved sour-sweet things. Now go discuss all that, while I sit back and enjoy my Titaura. And if you're wondering whether I might give you some, the (plagiarized) tag line on the packet says "A gift for someone you love", so.....

19 comments:

  1. I love Lhapsi too!!! Yummy!!! It's kind of similar to what we get here down south too... in the "potti kadais"... in little plastic packets... in Tamil it's called "Yelandha Vadai" and it's not the regular "Imli", it's a fruit that grows wild and is sweet-sour... not sure if it's the same as Lhapsi though...

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  2. Nasty(talking about italics here .;-)

    Thanks to that mysterious friend of yours, I got to taste it too. Oh yay, I have real high connections et al.

    Btw, I rather fancy the pronounciation...Lopsy...:-)

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  3. Very interesting! We should swap and put this to the test! Dig a little more and see if you can find out what fruit exactly "yelandha vadai" is..I'm quite intrigued. North-East meets South..my fave two spots in the country!

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  4. Erm, you think you could forgive the lack of a parenthesis!?!

    I'm trying not to get all OCD about it, and delete my comment just for the lack of 'concavus'.

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  5. The fruit is called Yelandha Pazham in Tamil. I'm surprised you haven't had it, having lived in the south so many years... we used to have it at school sometimes too... but I guess that was in grade 11 & 12... It's called "vadai" because usually it's not in semi-liquid form like the Lhapsi... it's either in dry "podi" form or they make the podi into a big round "vadai" sort of thing (not friend through). It's more granular in texture, but yummy all the same...

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  6. Hehe..relax, KO, don't get your panties in a knot about it. I forgive you this once ;)

    Janie, when you mentioned the powder type thing, it sort of jogged my memory. I think I have had what you're talking about, although it tasted different from Lapsi... or may be it's just made differently. Delicious nonetheless!

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  7. haha @ the disclaimer (I assume it is one because of the italics!) :D..I think the stuff you are speaking about is similar to the "elandha pazham" stuff that I have seen usually being sold in schools! I have never tasted it though..I have never kind of liked the smell!!

    PS:Gosh, and the text below "leave your comment" - you do sound like a tyrannical editor! :D

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  8. Oooh... of the ones you've mentioned, I've only tried Sikkimese titaura - and it's unbelievably delicious. Gangtok's MG Marg (west kerb) is a good place to sniff around for the stuff.

    Brief introduction: Chanced upon your blog through Ushasi's. We're friends from college. :)

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  9. I've tried the Titaura available in Sikkim (all over, from MG Marg to Teesta Bridge) - but that had a "Made in Nepal" tag too, so I'm not sure if you're referring to the same one. But that was amazingly delicious - in fact, more spicy and mouth-watering than the Titaura I sourced from Darjeeling recently.

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  10. hey you! came across yr blog just recently,entertaining :) yeah titaura's goood..where in sikkim are u?one of my best friends is from there too..

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  11. Nepal? I suppose I didn't check the label - the contents were too enticing!

    Digression: Teesta Bridge? Er... is that what used to be called the Coronation Bridge, somewhere towards the end of Sevoke Road?

    Or am I completely off? I can't recall if Ranipul has a Teesta Bridge...

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  12. @db: man! you know the area well! Yes, Coronation Bridge is the same as Teesta Bridge..at the end of Sevoke road. Ranipul has a bridge, but that's just a little bridge over the Teesta :)
    Was the Titaura you had in little orange colored packets? The ones I've seen in Sikkim are like that, while the Darj/Kalim ones are transparent (as seen in the pic)

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  13. @BB: Thanks. :) Back then, not having compulsory attendance requirements at college was ample reason to run off to the hills a couple of times every year.

    Transparent packs, as far as I remember. Darn... so I didn't have the authentic Sikkimese deal?

    Another trip beckons, I think.

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  14. Hmmm, I think it's time I checked it out too.

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  15. @db: Ran off to Sikkim that often? You lucky so-n-so! There's no way for me to tell whether you had the authentic Sikkimese deal or not, I'll have to scout around MG Marg and confirm that. I may have missed it myself being so enamoured with the lil orange packets of Nepalese origin.

    @Suchismita: You must, you must!! Make haste! ;)

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  16. @BB: Sure will, as soon as my husband keeps his promise and makes that much-promised Sikkm trip happen. Since our marriage a couple of years back db has promised to take me there for the trek up Maenam and the food but all we do on our trips back home is lie around and hog !!

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  17. @Suchismita: Lying around and hogging is one way to spend a great holiday, but I think the trek is worth clamouring for if there is gonna be Titaura at the end of it!

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  18. I'm from Nepal and I swear I would die for Lapsy....
    I live in america nd always crzve for thiiss ...
    i want iht rite now

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