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.
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.....