Travelogue: A Month-Long Tour of India: Third Stop: The Tender Coconut Vendor

Across India, machete-wielding coconut vendors hack open young coconuts (locally called tender coconuts), so customers can take a break from the brutal heat and refresh themselves with the slightly sweet, cool coconut water inside. These are simply coconuts fresh off the tree. The ones we typically see in the United States have been allowed to ripen, turning the water into the more concentrated milk we associate with coconuts.

According to Mr. Morton Satin, chief of FAO’s Agricultural Industries and Post Harvest Management Service, the liquid is “a natural isotonic beverage with the same level of electrolytic balance as we have in our blood. It’s the fluid of life, so to speak.” The Coconut Development Board, a statutory body established under the Indian Ministry of Agriculture, confirms that coconut water contains not only sugars, but also minerals, proteins easily tolerated by sick people, and vitamins.

On a recent trip to Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu (Southern India) to visit my parents-in-law, I had a chance to see a coconut water vendor in action. More than likely, the coconuts came from one of the many coconut farms nearby. Text and photography by Heidi Dean