It was not that long ago that I worked on a private event where the client requested I use several ingredients that he liked and wanted to showcase in different ways through the food and beverage on the night. I met with the chef for the night and we started to work on developing the menu.
One of the items on the night was a chikoo. Ever heard of it? In English, it is known as a sapodilla and it has several different names based on the region it is cultivated in. Chikoo is native to Mexico and Central America and it has been introduced by the Spanish to the Philippines, from where it spread across other Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and many others.
Chikoo is known under several different names around the world because of its different varieties: a few versions are: “zapote” “nispero” “dilly” “nasaberry” “sapota” “sawo” “saos”. In India, the chikoo has gained some interesting nicknames such as Kali Patli (cricket ball), Baramati, Pili Patli, and so on simply because it looks like a cricket ball.
Chikoo trees have been used for many centuries. For example, its bark is rich in gummy latex and the leaves are ornamental. The Sapodilla tree will take anywhere between five to eight year to bear fruit. Sapodilla fruit is harvested twice a year, though the flowering may continue all year round.
Chikoo fruit is a large berry with a yellow to earthy brown colour with a grainy texture similar to well-ripened pear with a sweet, malty flavor. Chikoo has very dominant flavours and can be used for such things as chutneys, fruit salads, smoothies, jams, and pies.
We’ve made a lot of sorbets for our kids at home and the best one was with chikoo. For us, parents, we played with mixing it into our cocktails such as with this recipe:
Frozen Chikoo Margarita
1 chikoo (deseeded) 2 whole dried dates A pinch of salt 2 tsp of good‑quality honey (add more to taste) 50 ml of 100% agave tequila 15 ml fresh lime juice 5 ml fresh orange juice
Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blitz to a puree.
Add three to four ice cubes, and blend again to a smooth frozen texture.
Pour into a margarita glass, and enjoy.
Tip: You can also experiment with aged tequilas.