Indian Jujube – Elanthai Pazham

Indian Jujube – Elanthai Pazham

Jujube also known as Red Date or Chinese Date is originated in China and have been cultivated for more than 4,000 years. The fruit is a drupe, varying from round to elongate shape and from small gooseberry size to plum-size. There are hundreds of varieties available all over the world.

The Indian jujube is called as Indian Plum or Indian cherry in English, “Ber” in Hindi, “Badri” in Sanskrit. The Tamil name is “Elanthai Pazham” (இலந்தை பழம்).

The immature fruit is smooth-green, but as it matures more, it changes to Greenish orange and when it fully ripe it becomes dark redish/brown and wrinkled.

The fruits grown in North India are bigger than the one we get in South India, particularly in Tamil Nadu.

In Tamil Nadu, the fruits are in small round shape and mostly sold by vendors near the schools. Children eat these along with chilli powder and salt.

The ripe fruits are generally consumed raw, but are sometimes used for making candies, pickles and used in desserts. Elantha Vadai (The fruits are dried in the Sun and the hard nuts are removed. Then it is pound with tamarind, red chillies, salt and jaggery. Small vadas made from this dough and again dried in the Sun) is one of the famous candies which we get in Southern Tamilnadu. Now this vadai finds a place in City’s super stores also.

Medicinally, jujubes have been used to treat nerves and as a cure for insomnia.

It cures stomach-aches, respiratory problem, throat infection, urinary inflammation and constipation. It is helpful in liver troubles, asthma and fever.

They are equally effective in the treatment of diarrhea, dysentery, gout, ulcer and rheumatism. A teaspoonful of powder of dry fruit stops excessive menstruation.

Irrespective of the medicinal value the fruit has, it is not much liked by all. But it will definitely bring in our School Day memories.


  1. Hello Kamala,

    There is something called “Milagai” vadai (not Milagu vadai) , made out of Green Chili, Urud Dhall and not sure what other spices are included. This is like Vatral/Vadam. Where do I get this in Chennai or if you know the receipe, could you please share it in your web site.


  2. Lisa Smith

    I grew up in tropical north Queensland, Australia. We had acres of jujube trees growing wild everywhere. We didn’t call them that. I only learned their real name recently. We used to call them “chiney apples”, possibly in reference to the Chinese who may have originally brought them here. We loved them. We’d climb up the trees and eat them whether they were just ripe or old and soft. When they were soft they were called “snotty gobbles”. I know that’s gross, but that was what we called them. I can almost remember the aromatic taste, but it has been so many years since I tasted them – possibly 40 – that I don’t really remember. Most of the trees were removed, as they were considered a pest here. I don’t live in the same place any more. But I would love to find a source of these, as I really did like the taste and as you say, it brings back old memories.

    • Hi Lisa Smith,

      Thank you for sharing your memories. We are getting it plenty in India in its season. But I am not sure about other places.

    • Lisa: I know how, as we grow older, we long for the sounds (Music), tastes (Indigenous foods) and smells (Blossoms of Jasmine or a Lotus) associated with our childhood. I immigrated to the United States and get ‘homesick’ for many things lost since my younger days. In my backyard garden in Central Georgia, you can see that I have recreated a landscape that is reminiscent of my native India with several native species of fruiting trees, flowering shrubs and vegetables from my homeland. Each winter, I have to “save” them indoors but they are my kith and kin now, having lost both parents to old age. I have seen on Google, Jujube seeds available from Australia. I will be glad to send you some, as they germinate quite easily.

  3. where can it be found in Nigeria?

    • I worked briefly in West Africa (Liberia) and it grows wild in the province of Grand Gedeh and I am sure in neighboring countries as well.


      It grows in Zambia as well. The colonial British Troops enlisted hundreds of Indians to support their African military adventures as well as their Caribbean colonies. These Indians brought with them their native vegetables, fruits and spices. Several of these Indians eventually settled in both Africa and in the West Indies’ island nations. After looking for some Indian herbs for almost four decades in the United States, I found them in Jamaica and Barbados!

  4. Kamala: Your post on the Ber brought back very fond memories of going to Madrasi school in New Delhi. On the way, I would either climb trees to help myself to the tasty oblong fruits, larger than the Jamun but behind our school, we could pick off the thorny bushes, the smaller red variety, also called Ber. Indeed, you could also buy it from street vendors carrying them in a basket on the head but I did not relish the hot masala they would sprinkle on the fruits served on a broad leaf made into the shape of a cup. After about sixty years, I found the fruits being sold at a local Indian grocery store in Georgia (US) and paid a fortune to taste a few berries. Thanks again for refreshing my memories from a happy childhood.

  5. Hello,

    Where can I find ilanthai vadai in Bangalore? Please help.


  6. Hello! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone 3gs!
    Just wanted to say I love reading through your blog and look forward to all your posts!
    Carry on the great work!

  7. Hi can u let me know where I can get jujube leaves in OMR

  8. Hi Kamala,
    Your info on Elantha Pazham brought back old memories of my school days in Cluny School, Neyveli. The petty squabbles we used to have when my friends did not bother to share this very tasty fruit. Yes.. But then everything is settled for a handful of the fruit again. I live in Kerala and yesterday, I had to go to Udumalpet, near Pollachi for a nieces marriage. I found this fruit after almost 35 while on my way to Udumalpet. I bought a kilogram of this fruit and took it home. I had narrated my school experiences to my kids and inlaws. Nevertheless, they were not amply impressed with the fruit, as rightly noted by you. Come what may, this Elanthapazham brought back fond memories of my school days…

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