I have often spotted carts selling something long and thick, like a tree trunk, here and there, in Bangalore. Curious passersby stop their vehicles for a closer look, and some even ask the vendor what it was. A few can be spotted relishing thin slices of the trunk-like thing, while a few others just nod their heads politely and walk away. I was curious about it, too, but I never asked or tasted it.
I spotted a push cart selling it a few days ago, and dared to stop for a taste. The vendor sawed off a couple of extremely thin slices of the thing, cut them into large-ish pieces, doused them liberally with sugar and lemon juice, and handed them to me wrapped in a bit of newspaper. I took a hesitant first bite out of one piece, and…. it was just beautiful. It was sweet, woody, lemon-y – all in one. It tasted like a cross between a water chestnut and tender coconut pulp. Needless to say, I slurped it all up, and even got some for the people at home to taste.
The vendor told me that it is a root, and that they call it ‘bhoochakra gadda’ (‘bhoochakra’ means ‘the cycle of the earth’ and ‘gadda’ is ‘root’). Vendors in Bangalore typically get it from the foothills of Baba Budangiri in Chikkamagalooru. A quick internet search showed me that the root belongs to a small bush with strongly scented flowers, which goes by the scientific name of ‘Maerua Oblongifolia’. The root is edible, and is supposed to have medicinal properties. It helps in quenching thirst, is used as a stimulant, and is also helpful in healing snake bites and scorpion stings! I suspect it would have a cooling effect on the body as well.
I am so not going to hesitate before getting myself a few more slices, whenever I spot a ‘bhoochakra gadda’ guy the next time.
Have you tried this out?