Sitaphal, or Sugar Apple, Appears at Fruit Stands in Chinatown
Fruits and vegetables from far-flung locations appear and disappear at Chinatown fruit stands as seasonally as produces comes and goes at the Greenmarket, though more mysteriously.
If you happen to wander down Canal Street right now, you'll spot sugar apples, the heavy green fruits that look a little like artichokes, for about $6 a pound.
Sugar apples are native to the Central and South American tropics and the Indian subcontinent. In Hindi, they're called "sitaphal," which means the goddess Sita's fruit.
Wait until the sitaphals are fragrant and give slightly to the touch, and then slice them open to reveal their delicious, custard-like flesh. The taste is honeyed and aromatic, grainy like a pear and sugary like a guava. It's easiest and best just to scoop the fruit out of the husk and straight into your mouth, but you can also make sitaphal ice cream or basundi -- a creamy dessert made from reduced milk that is almost unbearably delicious.