bil (Hindi), ma toom (Thai), bau nau (Vietnamese), bilak/maja pahit (Malay), kawista/maja (Indonesian)
(Aegle marmelos — Family Rutaceae)
A tree which grows wild in much of northern India and Southeast Asia, it belongs to the citrus family of fruits.
It is not related to the quince, although it is sometimes called Bengal or Indian quince.
The fruits, which look something like grayish-yellow oranges, may have a thin hard shell or a softer thicker skin. Inside, the pulp is yellow, gummy, and full of seeds.
Despite its appearance, it does have an aromatic, refreshing flavour and can be eaten as is or served with a palm sugar (jaggery) or used in marmalades or drinks.
Hindus hold it sacred and use it in their religious worship, and consider it a sacrilege to cut down a bael tree. Yet, to die under one assures immediate salvation.