Spotted on the streets

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?

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46 thoughts on “Spotted on the streets

  1. I got to try this thing recently and I must say it was not a good experience. It’s been 3 days since I had it, still my tongue is itchy.!!!

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  2. Thank you for the post! I found it recently (November 2014) in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh, and it tastes very good, but I forgot to ask the seller what it was…

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    1. @NS

      Why not? There is going to be only one out of two outcomes – either you will like it, or you won’t. If you like it, you have something new to eat whenever you spot it next. If you don’t like it, you can always stop eating it. 🙂

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  3. Hearing/Seeing this for the first time… but I am amazed that you just went ahead and took a few slices without any one even guiding you! 😀 Now thats a foodie there clearly!

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