In western countries, initially they recognized only four basic tastes – sweet, sour, salt and bitter. But the Indian tongue distinguished six different tastes many thousands of years ago, namely sweet, sour, salt, bitter, pungent and tart. Almost all fruits are sweet in taste. Honey is also very sweet in taste. Many fruits also contain sour taste, though in small quantity. In fact, the right proportion of sweet and sour tastes makes a fruit special in taste. Fermented food like the curd contains the sour taste. So is the tamarind fruit. The bitter taste is represented by the bitter gourds. The neem fruit (Margosa) is a good example for bitter taste. Of all the birds and animals, it is only the crow that relishes the neem fruit. The pepper and the chillies are good examples of pungent smell and taste. Salt is known to every one. It needs no introduction. The sixth is the tart. This taste is also known as astringent. The skin of the pomegranate is a good example for the tart taste. (Many of you have heard the word ‘tart’. But you might have associated it with something not so venerable. Bur tart is also a taste) Most raw vegetables also are tart in taste. A decent Indian meal contains all these six tastes. So, the Indian meal with all these six tastes is considered a perfect balanced food. The Indian gooseberry, the cheapest vegetable contains all these six tastes. Hence, it is served as one of the items of food in all Indian cuisines.
i. Indian gooseberries
ii. the neem tree