According to Vijaya Shrestha, lapsi is very popular and the supply falls well short of demand. The Paun Bhandar needs 2,000 to 3,000 kg of lapsi a day to make four types of treats – dry titaura, mada, jhol titaura, and candies. A current favourite among customers is the recently introduced lapsi choila titaura.
“The best thing about lapsi is, it can move between sweet and sour ingredients when used to make pickles, candies or mada. It can absorb any taste, making it an interesting food,” said Shrestha.
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Lapsi also has health benefits. In Newar culture, after a heavy meal guests are offered paun:kwa, a thin lapsi gravy. “The purpose of serving paun:kwa after a meal is for digestion. Lapsi helps prevent stomach ache,” says Shrestha.
Public health advocate Aruna Upreti concurs. “The tanginess of lapsi helps in digestion and it has many micronutrients, including iron and vitamin C.” She adds that lapsi, as anything, should be eaten in moderation. “You eat to enjoy the taste, not to fill your tummy. If you go overboard, lapsi itself will give you a stomach ache.”
Lapsi is such a popular fruit of the Nepal hills that many carry it abroad with them when they leave. Lisa Sherchan, 27, has lived in New York for the past 10 years and every time she visits Kathmandu or has anyone visiting from here, she asks them to bring her titaura. “I particularly like the jhol titaura, but I ask for the spicy dry one as carrying liquid food items is restricted.”
Sherchan remembers buying titaura wrapped in newspaper for two rupees when she was a child. Now, five packets of titaura last her nine months, and if she has a stash, she will never feel far from home.
She adds: “Whenever I miss home, I plop a titaura in my mouth and this brings Kathmandu to New York.”