wild Indian figs (goolar, anjeer or dumur), a wild edible fruit : recipe of gooler ki subzi

There are some fruits and vegetables long forgotten by urban junta. Wild Indian figs, goolar or anjeer is one of them. You don't see them anymore in the markets although you spot some old trees here and there. No one bothers to pluck the fruits because there is no interest. There is a lot of public interest in the jamun and mango trees of our colony but I keep an eye on the single goolar tree near the park.

wild Indian fig or gooler

The tiny fruits grow along the stem but there is no way I can pluck them myself.

And I never get them. End of story. No cooking with gooler.

Sounds unusual? It actually is. Many people have not heard about this fruit being used for cooking but those who have tasted it would buy it immediately when they see it in the market.

I was in my hometown Varanasi 2 months ago and my dad bought some goolar from an old quaint subzi mandi (vegetables n fruits market). He is very fond of such desi things and somehow this interest for all things desi has ingrained in me too. I took pictures of the fruit and the curry my mom made so I can share it here with you all. We make a mashed goolar too with this fruit and a spicy kabab, I so wish I could get some gooler to make some crumbly gooler ke kabab this winter.

wild Indian fig or gooler

I would talk about the spicy curry till then :-)

These fruits are tiny and a pain to clean and chop. Many of the varieties have small insects inside. Remember I told in the last post that it is an inflorescence (a false fruit called syconium) so the insects go inside to help pollination. The smaller variety has a tightly packed inflorescence inside and there are no insects to be seen(microscopic one are supposed to be edible ;-))

gooler ki subzi

So the fruit has to be halved or quartered and the insect infested fruits are discarded, all hard seeds are scraped off and tender gooler fruits are used as is.

I did it all by myself as I was seeing gooler after so long. Once the cleaning is done the pieces are parboiled. Just dunked in boiling water for 5 minutes on stove and then drained. Though I have cooked gooler ki subzi without parboiling too. Now it is ready to be cooked into a curry.

The curry is a normal north Indian masala gravy, although I guess a south Indian version with curry patta and lots of coconut would do wonders with it.

gooler ki subzi

This version is the one made in my family and the taste has remained the same for at least two generations. That is to declare that I did not get many chances of experimenting with gooler much. Whenever I got some precious goolar on my hands, I made the kababs and the chokha (a mash made with boiled vegetables with ginger garlic and a mustrad oil drizzle)..

Here is the goolar ki subzi as my grandmother and mother have made for years...

cleaned gooler (wild Indian figs) 500 gm
diced onions 1 cup
ginger garlic paste 1 tbsp
whole cumin seeds 2 tsp
coriander power 1 tbsp
cumin powder 1 tbsp
black pepper powder 1 tbsp
red chilly powder 2 tsp or more
turmeric powder 2 tsp
one green and black cardamom each, 5 cloves and an inch long cinnamon pounded together freshly
mustard oil 1/4 cup
Curds or fresh tomato puree 1/2 cup
Potatoes 1or 2 (optional)
salt to taste


Heat the oil in a kadai (pan) and tip in the cumin and wait till they splutter. Add the onion and fry till golden brown. Add salt to hasten the browning.

Add the ginger garlic paste and fry till the oil separates.

Make a paste using the curds or tomato puree with the powders of coriander, cumin, black pepper, turmeric and red chilly, add a little water if required. Add this paste to the fried mixture and cook while stirring it, till oil separates again.

Add the freshly pounded spices, mix well and now tip in the boiled and drained wild figs into the cooking mixture. Mix well, add about a cup of water and cook on very low flame for about 20-25 minutes. Check after 10 minutes and add a little more water if required.

gooler ki subzi

The finished curry is a thick gravy of a coating consistency. The masala is well seeped into the gooler because of slow cooking. The taste of this curry cannot be compared to anything but it is definitely a meaty curry. Sometimes compared to smaller varieties of jackfruit but for me it is very different from that too.

Now tell me if you want to cook with this vegetable/fruit. I know your answer is yes but I am not sure if you have tasted it before.

Why not start demanding our local subziwala (vegetable vendors) for such forgotten desi things so they think of sourcing these, or may be they pluck it from the wild growing trees and bring them to the markets. Long time back my maid used to be embarrassed to admit that they eat these wild growing fruits, thinking this is the sign of poverty.

I assured her it is actually a delicacy and we should be proud of such bounties of nature. Every day food in the past was local by default and a lot of foraged food came into our kitchens..

Be it gooler, millets, local greens or local seeds like cannabis seeds, flax seeds or black or white sesame, we must look out for such produce. Using them is great for better sustainable health for ourselves and sustainable agriculture for the farmers and small scale marketers.

What do you think?


  1. its been ages that I tasted this. there are so many trees lining across various busy roads of Kolkata...but I always shy away from getting some fruits. love dumurer chop or kebab that my granny used to make.

  2. First time reading about a curry made with figs,sounds interesting....

  3. tempting and delicious ,never heard this before..surely try this as fresh figs are easily available here..

    1. Anjana ji this is not the ripe figs we get in the fruits isle or with fruit vendors, this one would be really small and green, rock hard to touch. This wild Indian fig (goolar) will be found only in the vegetables isle or vendors.

  4. so nice to meet you at indiblogger..and come across your blog...wild figs haa......well this is certainly a different recipe...now if i could find the figs in delhi!!!


    1. My compound has a goolar tree.My mom tried to make sabji of it but it taste awful. May be we dont like it.Very rarely someone will ask for it.When one asked we happily said pluck as much as you can.Its also sold in market but hardily anyone buys them.

  5. Welcome to my blog Sushmita...it was nice meeting you too :-)

  6. first time here......n alos my fisrt time with a curry with figs....wonderful...glad to follow u here :-)


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