Sankranti 2023 Brings Back Memories Of The Indian Jujube
Image Credit: The Indian Jujube

While jaggery, gur, sesame seeds, dried coconut, sugarcane, and rice may be auspicious for religious offerings, the Indian jujube, or ber, is another popular fruit that is an important aspect of the festivity in the southern states of India. It is low in calories and considered to be a powerhouse of nutrients. It is widely sold on the streets and in shops across South India, especially during Sankranti. Indian jujube is famously known for its fibre content and antioxidant properties. We might have heard our mothers say, "Yelchi hannu is rich in vitamin C." Eat it. It's good for you." 

This tropical fruit’s botanical name is Ziziphus Mauritiana. And it is known as ber in Hindi, elantha palam in Tamil, elandha pazham in Malayalam, yelchi hannu in Kannada, and regi pandu in Telugu. 

Yelchi hannu, or Indian jujube, is eaten raw when it is green. The colour then turns to a coffee brown as it ripens further, which is sweeter and is ideal to be had as a refreshing glass of juice with a hint of cardamom and jaggery. It has a distinct flavour and tastes sweet with a hint of sourness, similar to a green apple. They shrink to the size of a berry as they dry, and their brown colour deepens with a pungent smell and tangy taste. The dried version of the berries is used to prepare condiments like chutneys, pickles, and more. 

If you grew up in south Indian cities in the 1990s or before, you might have seen yelchi hannu or ber being sold outside schools in the evening. It used to be a great snack seasoned with salt and red chilli pepper and served in little paper cones that I’m sure most of us thoroughly enjoyed. 

Here is a special yelchi chutney recipe that was made during Sankranti in my house and that paired well with steamed rice with a dollop of ghee, dosa, and rice dumplings called kadambuttu or akki kadubu in Karnataka. 

Yelchi Hannu Chutney 


  • 1 cup yelchi hannu or ber, dried, cleaned, and deseeded 
  • 1tsp jaggery 
  • 1 cup chopped coriander leaves 
  • 1/4 cup fresh coconut pieces 
  • 3 red chillies 
  • Salt to taste 
  • 1/2 Tbsp ghee 
  • 1tsp sesame oil 
  • ½ tsp mustard seeds 
  • ½ tsp split urad dal 
  • ½ tsp split channa dal 
  • 1 tsp asafoetida


  • Saute yelchi hannu, coriander leaves, red chillies, coconut, jaggery, and salt in a pan with ghee or clarified butter. 
  • Allow it to cool down and grind them into a coarse paste with a dash of water, depending on the consistency you require. Shift it to a serving bowl. 
  • For the tempering, heat sesame oil in the pan, add mustard seeds, and allow it to sputter a bit. Later, add the dals and asafoetida to the pan and cook until golden. 
  • Take it off the heat and transfer the content over the coarsely ground chutney in the serving bowl, and mix well quickly before serving it.