A special form of tree, which erupts from a common trunk in all directions as you travel towards Diu from Saurashtra, draws your attention as you drive through the state of Saurashtra. From a structural standpoint, it seems as if numerous coconut trees have been grafted together into a single trunk. These Hoka Pam trees are really one-of-a-kind since they can only be found in this region of India.
Individual trees have three or more offshoots that branch out in all directions from the main trunk. Small oval fruits the size of a cricket ball, which are hung in clusters between the densely produced foliage on the top of the plant, may be found in between the densely formed foliage.
It is only in Diu that you will find Hoka palm trees, and some people think that the Portuguese brought them here with them. Another school of thought holds that the western section of Gujarat (the Saurashtra area) separated from the African continent during the Triassic epochal period.
Hoka seeds are utilised in the preparation of country liquor in the state of Diu. The seed’s outer covering is likewise peeled away, and the softer meat within is eaten raw as well. One of the shopkeepers came to our aid while we were wandering about with Hoka seeds, attempting to figure out how they were digested. He went out and got a sharp knife, cut a Hoka seed into thin layers, and then handed it to us to eat with our lunch. We ate the slices with a grin on our faces. The scent and flavour were virtually identical to that of the ‘Tal’ that Bengalis use to prepare a wide variety of delicacies such as Taaler Peetha and Taler Gur, among others. However, we were unsure whether the Hoka seeds could be utilised for these reasons as well, so we did not test them.
There is an unusual belief about Hoka that exists in Diu, which is worth noting. The general consensus is that Hoka seeds that are planted in one’s own backyard germinate as males and do not produce fruit. These trees only become female when the seeds are planted by individuals at the homes of their acquaintances. The merchant on Nagoa Beach who told me about it vouched for the fact that it was true and that anybody could verify it.
In addition, we discovered that the natives make wonderful alcoholic beverages from Hoka. They are referred to as ‘Tadi’ by the locals and are eaten by them. Although several communities told us that the Tadi may be contaminated with methyl alcohol, which is lethal to humans, we ignored their warnings and proceeded nevertheless. This phoney preparation has become increasingly concerning in recent years, as some commercial sellers, in order to meet the soaring demand, have reduced the time-consuming process of natural fermentation, frequently by attempting to accelerate the process in order to get faster returns for their customers.
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