BERRY DELICIOUS INDIAN COOLER … Phalse ka Sherbet

“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer, and like it.”
Russel Baker

Oh to have a berry to call your own! What a blissful feeling it is to find pretty berries here after going green with envy reading about blueberries, cranberries & just about every other berry under the sun in blog land. Along comes a plum-purplish tiny Indian berry, the phalsaThroughout our childhood, & until a few years ago, it was fairly common for door-to-door hawkers door to ring the doorbell, selling this berry at our doorstep. The summer afternoon silence was often shattered by their piercing calls, when very few would venture out while strong, dry & HOT summer winds, or the loo‘ as it’s called in Hindi, swept across the Northern Indian plains, laden with dust! (It’s dusty & windy outside as I write).Phalsas were carried on cycles in large wicker baskets, covered with a wet gunny bag, which was showered with water constantly. I’ve seen this for years, but have never bought the berry. The hub though remembers eating the berry with salt when he was young; now these are much too tart for our grown up teeth!!Grewia asiatica or phalsa are tiny sweet and sour acidic fruits, which are sold in the market during summer months in India. The pleasant sherbet or squash is prepared from the fruit pulp by mixing it with sugar and used as an astringent, stomachic and cooling agent. The fruits allay thirst & are said to be good for heart and blood disorders, fevers and diarrhoeaLet’s see which berries we find here in India … strawberries (this year we’ve seen a better than usual crop, though the season has now ended), cape gooseberry or physallis, & this very tart/acidic one – grewia asiatica or ‘phalsa! And then of course, cherries. Come Spring, another berry which weighs down branches of trees is the mulberry. The mulberry is a highly perishable berry, comes in various shapes & sizes, but doesn’t find takers in the market because it needs very gentle handling. Folk like us who enjoy this plump & sweet berry, pick them off trees. Once ripe, they just readily drop off making quite a mess of the place. My helper at home religiously gathers bagfuls for us & drops them by. Until last year, I never gave any berry a more serious thought other than just ‘fruit-to-eat’! Then slowly much envy crept into my system … & I began experimenting with local berries, which is how this sherbet came about!
Sherbet is a traditional cold drink prepared, popular in the Middle East and Indian subcontinent. In the gardens of Ottoman Palace, spices and fruits to be used in sherbet were grown under the control of pharmacists and doctors of the Palace. The word “sherbet” is from Turkish “şerbet“. Also called “sorbet”, which comes from French “sorbet” & from Italian “sorbetto“. The word is cognate to syrup, & historically was a cool effervescent or iced fruit soft drink. The meaning, spelling and pronunciation have fractured between different countries. It is usually spelled “sherbet”, but a common corruption changes this to “sherbert“.
The phalsa heralds the beginning of really hot long summer days in North India … the sherbet a quintessential feel of the summer in India. The selection of berries that bloggers post about is enviable, but I’m happy to have this pretty little berry. The colour phalse ka rang’ is used as local reference for fabric etc, i.e. a particular purplish-pink, the colour of the sherbet. The tart-sweet smell of the juice is very nostalgic, & takes me back to days gone by. I don’t remember seeing the berry, but the flavours are deep set in my mind, & the picture of the hawkers on cycles still fresh! This is a very sour and versatile fruit which can be used in making jams, pies, squashes, chutneys etc, though all I’ve heard of, & tried so far, is a sherbet. I can see panna cotta & sorbets in the future in my crystal ball…
PHALSE KA SHERBET
Ingredients:
400gms phalsa berries / grewia asiatica
2 cups sugar; powdered (increase if need be)
1 tsp rock salt
Crushed ice
Mint sprigs to garnish
Method:
  • Wash the berries well, & soak in drinking water for 30mins to an hour. This helps soften the berries.
  • Put them in a big bowl with more water if required, wash your hands well, & squash the berries with your hands. This way the seeds will come apart. Each berry has a small central seed.
  • Push the mashed stuff through a soup strainer, adding more water if necessary to get a concentrate. Add the sugar & salt, & water as required.
  • Pour over crushed ice & serve garnished with a sprig of mint.
  • Note: I think a cooler can possibly be made out of other tart berries too.

To wind up, a huge THANK YOU Coco @ Purple Foodie for helping me become a DOT COM. I’m now @ www.passionateaboutbaking.com

TOASTING THE TIKKA WITH A SHERBET…COTTAGE CHEESE, CHICKEN & POMEGRANATE!!

“The art of dining well is no slight art, the pleasure not a slight pleasure”
Michel De Montaigne
Strange bedfellows one might say…cottage cheese, chicken & pomegranates. Common ground surprisingly exists in the form of Indian cuisine. The sun is blazing hot again & summer doesn’t want to go away. Grilling or barbequing food makes for lighter fare in this weather; is a big hit always. This is going to be part 1 of the post as my menu ran too long. I marinated cottage cheese / paneer cubes in 2 different marinades, boneless chicken bits in a creamy marinade. Decided to make some more leavened Indian bread (the third in the series I decided to try out in my lovely black box), had a delicious bowlful of dal makhani saved up from the previous day…& then made saffron kulfi to finish off the meal. PHEW…sounds like a long list, but was done in bits & bobs. And oh yes, forgot to mention the anaar ka sherbet / pomegranate cooler that I made too. That I did the previous day because I chanced upon some juicy pomegranates & couldn’t resist picking ‘em up! Right then, here we go…

Paneer Tikka / Grilled Cottage Cheese
Ingredients:
Cottage cheese – 1 kg / cubed into 1″ chunks
Yogurt – 1 cup ; hung
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsps
Oil – 1 tbsp
Juice of 1 lime
Paprika for half & coriander/mint/green chili paste for the other
Salt to taste
Chaat masala for sprinkling
Green chutney to serve (recipe posted here)
Bell peppers, onions etc to serve

Method:
  • Whip the yogurt with ginger-garlic paste + oil + lime juice + salt.
  • Add paprika to 1/2, & coriander-mint-green chili paste to the other. ( I add some green chutney to save time; adjust the salt if you do so).
  • Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes (or more) in the fridge. Toss the veggies in a little olive oil.
  • Put all the above on a hot grill & turn to ensure all sides nicely browned. Sprinkle lightly with chaat masala if desired. Serve with a green chutney & lime wedges.
  • Skewer with the veggies serve immediately.
  • Note: Cottage cheese tends to get a bit hard if grilled & left for later. It tastes wonderful freshly grilled!

Here’s the ‘Chicken Malai Tikka’. Made with the recipe I found at Pearls of East @ ‘Any One Can Cook’. A yummy creamy chicken tikka…eat it right off the grill to enjoy the moist, rich flavours. The recipe can be found here. I marinated this overnight; just makes life a lot simpler the next day!!

And to cool off my frayed nerves after being far too ambitious, there was nothing better than a glass of chilled ‘anaar ka sherbet’. The grenadine or pomegranate concentrate can be made in advance & refrigerated. We had it diluted with icy water & a squeeze of lime. You can perk it up by adding some sparkling lime water to it; grenadine is a great base for cocktails, mocktails & desserts too. Quite easy to make…
Anaar Sherbet / Pomegranate Cooler

  • Deseed 2 pomegranates. Put the seeds in a pan with 1 1/2 cups of water, add 8 tbsps sugar. Bring to a boil & simmer for 5 minutes till flesh is soft (will turn light pink). Cool & push the syrup through cheesecloth. Pour the concentrate into a bottle & refrigerate. Dilute as required & use as a base for a cooler.

Grenadine is traditionally a red syrup. It is used as an ingredient in cocktails, both for its flavor and to give a pink tinge to mixed drinks. “Grenadines” are also made by mixing the syrup with cold water in a glass or pitcher, sometimes with ice. The name “grenadine” comes from the French word grenade meaning pomegranate, as grenadine was originally prepared from pomegranate juice, cherry juice, and sugar.

The ‘khameeri roti’, or leavened flatbread, & ‘saffron kulfi’ recipe shall follow soon. The ‘dal makhani’ was the good old Jugalbandits recipe which I posted here!

Bon Apetit!!
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QUENCHING THIRST WITH A MANGO COOLER…CELEBRATING SUMMER!

“Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it. “
Russel Baker
Cooler anyone? Make mine mango…
With summer here, a cooler is just the perfect way to chill out. And with mangoes in every avatar flooding markets, how cool would a mango cooler be. In North India, this is a traditional thirst quencher, considered a good way to beat the heat & was made throughout homes across the North. Just the right thing to gulp down when you walk in from searing temperatures hitting 40 degrees C & upwards, & for many, the only way to escape a heatstroke. Aam panna, as it is called locally, served up a healthy mix of sugar & salts to balance the electrolytes that the body lost in the the HOT Indian summer.

My favourite way to serve this thirst quencher is in a tall steel glass

Aam Panna is an Indian drink renowned for its heat resistant properties. It is made from Green Mangoes and it is used as a tasty and healthy beverage to fight against the intense Indian summer heat. Apart from being tasty this drink also looks good due to its refreshing light green color. Green Mango is a rich source of pectin, which gradually diminishes after the formation of the stone. Unripe mango is sour in taste because of the presence of oxalic, citric and malic acids. Aam panna which is prepared using raw mangoes, sugar and an assortment of spices is an effective remedy for heat exhaustion and heat stroke. It also quenches thirst and prevents the excessive loss of sodium chloride and iron during summer due to excessive sweating.
The kids like their cooler in tall stem glasses topped with mint….

Raaga @ Singing Chef posted her mother’s recipe of a mango cooler kairi panha‘. In North India we call it aam panna. It is almost similar & in the past I have always made it differently. I usually wash the mangoes well, cook them under pressure with skins on for 5-7 minutes. Once cool, squeeze the pulp out & then continue the same way with the blending etc. Thought I’d give it a shot in Raaga’s Mom’s style as it looked decidedly different. The cooler came out very nice…fresh & exciting; tasted just like I make the other way. The son loved it & frequently asks me to make it.
The recipe as adapted from Raagas‘…
Ingredients:
Raw Mango – 1 cup, peeled and diced ( about 2 mangoes)
Roasted Cumin Powder – 1 tbsp
Rock Salt – 2 tsp powdered
Sugar – 2-4 tbsp
Red chili flakes – 1/8tsp
Mint leaves – a handful

Method:

  • Place all the ingredients, except mint leaves, in a microwave safe bowl with a little water and microwave on high for 3 minutes (till soft).
  • Allow to cool, add the mint leaves & run in the blender. Dilute this concentrate with chilled water, pour into tall glasses over ice-cubes, top with mint & celebrate summer! Can be made 2-3 days in advance. refrigerate until use.

Meeta @ Whats For Lunch Honey has Monthly Mingle #23 on now, which is celebrating Mango mania with all things mango for the entire month. So I thought I’d share this with the nice lady…
Fresh mint finds place in a almost everything I make…
…& also with Dee @ Ammalu’s Kitchen who is running Herb Mania. Her choice of herb for the month is one of my favourites…MINT. I just can’t seem to get enough of this refreshing herb, & it seems to wiggle into most of what I make, as a garnish at the least, if nothing else. There you go Dee.
First it’s mango mania & then herb mania, am feeling like quite a foodie maniac after this post…

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