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Sydney, Australia
My musings and meanderings on childhood - mine juxtaposed with that of my kids'. Everyday incidents and images from our life in Sydney turn my thoughts towards my own wonder years growing up in Bandra, Bombay, India.

14 June 2013

Guava Jelly in my Belly

Breakfast time: Guava Jelly on sourdough
I was so excited to chance upon some guavas at our local fruit and veg shop today! In Sydney, tropical fruit like mangoes, lychees, guavas and papaya are “exotic”. Translation: we pay top dollar for them.

In India, guavas (perus) have a far more humble status where street vendors sell them piled high on pushcarts. When we were kids, as soon as the school bell rang at the end of day, us school girls would make a beeline for the guavawalla outside our convent gates (not heading the nuns’ dire warnings!). Guava selected, he would quarter it and then sprinkle salt and chilli powder. Ta-da! You had an afternoon snack to perk you up as you trundled all the way back home.

So these memories only heightened my anticipation as I unpacked my groceries and then sliced a guava in half...
...only to find that while these guavas may look all pretty and PINK inside (Indian guavas have white pulp), they aren’t as fleshy or as sweet as their Indian counterparts. So what was I to do with half a dozen guavas sitting solemnly on our bench top?

Tickled pink by Aussie guavas

  I didn't want to chuck them in the bin (I had paid top dollar, remember?). A (guava?) seed of an idea began to germinate...

I could make Guava Cheese! Or how about Guava Jelly?

First things first – guava cheese is NOT a cheese. It’s a sweet that’s more akin to quince paste (which, coincidently, is the best accompaniment to a cheese platter). And, Guava Jelly – you guessed it – is not jelly. It's jam.

The guava paste, bubbling away
As the heady, robust scent of stewing guavas permeated our house, I remembered how we used to buy guava cheese and jelly from one particular vendor when I was little...

Once a month, this guava cheesewalla would do the rounds of Bandra’s by lanes. Putting down his old tin trunk that had been perched aloft his head, he would literally open up a treasure chest replete with sweet treats and spicy pickles.
While my Nana/mum/aunt went into the kitchen to fetch the jam jars and money, he would proffer slivers of guava cheese to us kids milling around the hallway.

Not a word was spoken between the guava cheesewalla and kids; I didn't know Hindi and he didn't know English, but his kind gesture spoke volumes.

After adjusting the brass weights on his vintage weighing scale, he’d carefully ladled the viscous, translucent red guava jelly into the waiting glass jars. Mmmm! Gooey goodness. Then, the guava cheese was weighed, sliced and wrapped in parchment paper. Dad's sweet tooth would ensure that it didn't last very long. And I went to bed with sweet dreams of guava jelly on toast for breakfast the next morning...

Do you remember any particular shop keeper or corner store from your childhood? Have you ever eaten a guava? Or cooked them? What’s your favourite fruit or, conversely, which fruit makes you want to gag?


  1. Wow, that looks nice!

    Word of caution for the brave though. Please make sure you don't put any salt in it.

    Bolte hain, jelly pe namak nahin chidakna chaiye.

    1. Haha! Arun, you never fail to crack me up. Totally agree on the FB comment you made abt the peru-Peru connection too.

  2. I was given a big bag of guavas and I would hvae loved to have made a jelly but hubby adores these fruit and gobbled them all down! :P

  3. wow how do u manage making that, i just bought indian guavas, a rare sight in dubai, and relished every piece, thinking of that same guava vendor outside our school

    1. I'm hankering for some Indian guavas, Nancy! I know you guys also get Aphoos mangoes in DBX too - so jealous! As for the guava jelly recipe - I just Googled it.


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