Karachi is going coconuts

Published November 23, 2022
A customer buys coconuts from a roadside vendor.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
A customer buys coconuts from a roadside vendor.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: “We belong to a coastal city where palm trees grow very well but we have not been able to capitalise on coconuts like Sri Lanka, India or any other city by the sea. Out there you find coconut stalls just about everywhere, especially on the beaches.”

This was something a nutritionist told this reporter during an interview about local-grown fruits a few years back.

At the time, one had to go look for coconuts to enjoy fresh cool rehydrating coconut water. The only regular encounter with the fruit would be through those vendors trying to sell you khopra slices at traffic signals. Or you could buy dried coconut from the dried fruit shops.

Thankfully times are changing now. Suddenly, you keep running into so many stalls and carts selling you tender coconuts. They are all over town. The cost of these coconuts depends on their size. A big fat one will be sold for Rs300, a slightly smaller one will cost you Rs250. And the smallest one available will be Rs200.

Depending on their size, the tropical fruit is being sold between Rs200 and Rs300

Some of the bigger shops selling the same will also have chilled coconuts. And thankfully they don’t charge extra for refrigerating them. The coconut, which also contains cream, can be enjoyed for the nothing extra, too, as the same axe that was used to chop off the top to put in the drinking straws will be used to crack it open for the cream.

Most vendors can tell if a coconut is ripe or tender with water and soft cream or if it is semi-ripe where you can chew on the dry khopra inside or if it is completely dry, which people usually break open by hitting on the floor at festivals or religious celebrations.

“It is very simple. You just shake it to know,” says one coconut vendor. “So which one will it be?” He asks and you point to a medium-sized one for yourself.

Almost all the coconuts that you see selling around the city these days are local-grown though you can also buy the ones imported from Sri Lanka. Most people with coconut palms at home here also buy coconuts from the vendors or they bring them their own home-grown ones because they don’t have the necessary tools to chop off the top or break open the hard surface of the fruit.

Some can’t even reach the coconuts growing on their palms. They often have fruit vendors paying them visits to buy the coconuts from them. The vendors have agile climbers who can reach the fruit in seconds to break them off the palms before tossing them down. Then the very same coconuts bought at Rs50 or Rs70 a piece are sold at the vendors for Rs200 to Rs300.

Healthwise it is worth it. Coconuts are extremely nutritious. They carry antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, including B-complex and vitamin C with iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese and zinc. And they have very low calories.

Though the papaya leaf has gained much popularity for the cure of dengue, drinking coconut water can also help the body cool down, detoxify and stop bleeding. Coconut water, with its natural sweetness, not only rehydrates the body, the nutrients mentioned can also help reduce fever and cure a number of ailments.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2022

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