IT is said that drinking the water of fresh coconuts is like drinking from the fountain of youth. Not only is it packed with antioxidants, amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, including B-complex and vitamin C with iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, manganese and zinc, it is refreshing and low in calories as well. Coconut milk is also said to be one of the most nutritious foods in the world.
Of course, the customers coming to Mohammad Husain’s 20-year-old coconut shop near the Arts Council are well aware of these facts. Why else would they be paying Rs150 for one coconut with water and cream instead of paying for a 500ml cold drink bottle for one-third the price?
Even though Karachi, being a coastal city, is perfect for growing coconut palms, most coconuts here, quite surprisingly, come from the trees growing in people’s home gardens. “The palms remain green the entire year but they only grow fruit during the summer,” says Mohammad Hussain.
“We always have our eye open for the trees in people’s homes for the fruit. The moment we notice them reaching the right size, it is time to ring the doorbells,” he says.
Fruit dealers usually offer around Rs30 or Rs60 per coconut depending on the condition of the fruit to the people in whose gardens the coconut palms grow. The palms start growing fresh fruit the moment they are unburdened.
At the shop, there are heaps of fresh green coconuts. Mohammad Hussain also has a big deep freezer to serve chilled coconut water to his customers if they would like that.
The hard surface of the coconut is the real reason why most people growing it in their homes don’t enjoy it themselves.
But Mohammad Hussain has a small axe to chop off the top till the three holes in it appear. They are ideal size for putting in the straws. Later, a customer may also request him to cut open the fruit into halves so that he or she can also enjoy the cream inside.
An overripe coconut would not have water or cream. It is referred to as ‘pakka khopra’ in local lingo and is mostly used for breaking open during religious ceremonies.
You must have also seen vendors at signal stops or inside buses selling slices of khopra. These are semi-ripe where the cream has hardened but can be chewed up like a cookie. A khopra slice costs Rs10 to Rs20.
But the prices mentioned already may also vary to some extent. For instance, there are rows and rows of coconut stalls at Sharafi Goth.
The coconuts there are priced between Rs100 and Rs120. These vendors also offer coconut imported from Sri Lanka wrapped in plastic.
Published in Dawn December 11th, 2016