The India trip is exciting in many ways. Not only do I love being with my parents, the travel but also the foods that I hardly get to see in my daily run in Sydney. However, it was getting to a point where the cooked foods were constant and I missed the simplicity of forking some salad for lunch. Invading into the kitchen garden, the bilimbi tree was almost as if it was waiting for me. This was the first time my daughter saw me climb a tree. She really did not believe I had the monkey in me. Anyway, now that’s proven! we made a sour spicy salad to accompany the meals (just because amma won’t allow the bilimbi salad as a meal).
What is bilimbi?
A close relative of the carambola tree the bilimbi, Averrhoa bilimbi is a small tree that grows well in the tropics and a native of South East Asia. Flowering as deep red inflorescence these turn into soft-skinned green fruit. This is bilimbi fruit that has a lot of culinary interest. The whole fruit is edible. The fruit grows in clusters from the stem. The fruit in local Indian names is irumban puli(malayalam) bimbuli (kannada), kamias(Tagalog). (Share with us more regional names if you have any for this fruit please).
What does bilimbi taste like?
The crunchy and firm fruit is actually extremely juicy to bite into. The fruit is highly sour and acidic with a slight metallic after-taste. Unlike carambola, the fruit does not turn sweet upon ripening. If eaten raw, best tasted with a pinch of salt mixed with cayenne. Choose the younger fruit if you like a bit lesser intensity for the sourness, especially for salads. For curries, the ripe fleshy ones are more suited.
Ingredients for the salad
Apart from young bilimbi, you will need other ingredients. A small red onion that is finely sliced and a green chilli to add spiciness. You can either pound the chilli with salt to mix it in the salad or chop it in. I have added a handful of fresh moringa leaves as the mesclun. If you don’t have access to them, use arugula or spinach in their place. Use fine salt to the season only at the end as it draws out a lot of juice from the bilimbi making the salad soggy.
The recipe card below gives the proportion of the ingredients. From this recipe card, you can directly save onto your pin board if you need to find some of the fruit too.
Moringa Bilimbi Salad
- mixing bowls and spoons.
- 10 medium Tree sorrel fruit Adjust based on your sourness tolerance.
- 1 small red onion hinly sliced
- 1/2 cup moringa leaves cleaned and separated
- 1 green chilli
- salt to taste
- Wash and clean all the vegetables for the salad.
- Cut the tree sorrel fruit into wedges or thinner slices.
- Slice the onion and set it aside.
- Thinly slice the chilli remove seeds and central core if you need lesser heat.
- Clean the moringa leaves, remove small stalk bits and wash throughly. Drain and set it aside.
- Into the mixing bowl add the prepared ingredients and mix well. Sprinkle salt and let it sit for 5 minutes.
- Mix again and the salad is ready to be served.
Pairing the moringa bilimbi salad.
Since the salad is sour and spicy, it will be a fabulous side to protein-rich preparations. Ideally, it will taste awesome with sheek kebabs, rajma cutlets,cheela or cutlets. If you chop the bilimbi fruit smaller, you can mix it with a basic bhel mix to make a tasty snack. We did not wait for all that but had it just as such with a classic South Indian thali.
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O my this moringa bilimbi salad sounds so very yummy. I must raid my neighbor tree for some. Will definitely enjoy it. This is called bimli in Konkani in Goa.
A very new salad for me using bilimbi .. I am sure it must have been refreshing on a hot afternoon.
I don’t have a tree to climb or a native village to go to, but I bet this tarty salad made for an excellent side dish to everyday meals.. looks appetising for sure..
I hear you, Kalyani. Each one of us has our green patches, mine is in my parent’s backyard! Nevertheless, it is an excellent salad.
Good to know about bilimbi, hope I can get it here sometime soon. I have never tasted it. The salad looks tasty Seema.
Very interesting salad Seema.Something new for me. Would love to try it sometime. Thanks for the recipe.