“The more you know, the more you can create. There’s no end to imagination in the kitchen.”
Julia Child

Phalsa ka Sharbat Phalsa Berry Sharbat … the much dreaded ‘loo‘ or hot summer winds, dry and dust laden, sweep across the plains of North India. Summer here becomes intolerable at times, with ‘fry eggs on the sidewalk‘ like temperatures threatening your very existence! Then along come some of the best fruit that nature has to offer … and life becomes worthwhile again! This Phalsa Berry Sharbat helps you survive…

Phalsa ka Sharbat With a slew of summer fruit now being offloaded by the truckloads, we could not have asked for more. Red, luscious, juicy cherries, mangoes falling off hand carts, watermelons piled sky high on roadsides, peaches just about beginning to surface, Indian java plums too. And then the phalsa berry, a beautiful, tangy, astringent much awaited native Indian berry!

Phalsa, Grewia asiatica Packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, this humble little berry, Grewia asiatica, brings alive childhood nostalgia. Back then, almost 40 years ago, the silent afternoon would be pierced by the shrill cry of the ‘phalsa wala‘. You’d find him with a wicker basket, topped with a very wet gunny bag which he gently peeled back to reveal the precious little berries. The very fragile and perishable phalsa would change hands for a few pennies. Washed gently and tossed in rock salt, we would hungrily suck them, trying to extract the most from the almost impoverished looking fruit.

Phalsa ka SharbatSometimes if we were lucky enough, we would be rewarded with phalsa ka sharbat! It was pain staking to make and a special treat. Life is a little easier now, with gadgets that make life in the kitchen a breeze. Just one sip of this amazing cooler, in colours that uplift the soul,  memories of a quintessential part of Indian summer comes alive! Sharbats or ‘fruit and flower based coolers‘ are the answer to the beat the heat!

Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil This takes me to the launch of the KitchenAid Pro Line Cordless Hand Blender in association with Masterchef Vikas Khanna in Delhi. The launch is a part of multi city #Blendappetit Tour spanning across India starting from May 20, 2014. While, the cordless blender is a unique, first of its kind, versatile product, it comes with an ultimate experience of ‘anytime anywhere’ blending.

Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil This new blender from Kitchenaid India is a magic machine, ergonomically designed, a thing of beauty. It comes equipped with a rechargeable 12V lithium ion battery which gives it the power to perform efficiently. The super blender can blend, mix, whisk, chop, froth, puree, shred and whip up anything in a flash.

Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil The very sweet and charming Vikas {I was fortunate enough to shoot with him recently} blended a lip smacking good kiwi smoothie from his new book.  The chef was affable as ever; entertaining, engaging, humourous! He connected instantly with the expectant crowd and soon had the gathering mesmerised. Ripples of laughter flooded the studio in Gurgaon with Vikas holding court, spinning out one anecdote after another. Stories of his home, his mother & grandmother, his inspirations, his journey from cooking a Rs 20 meal in Punjab to a Rs 20 lakh meal for Obama … yet humble and grounded as ever, a philosopher at heart!Kitchenaid Blendappetit  with Vikas Khanna Hymns from the Soil The afternoon witnessed the launch of his book- .Hymns from the Soil, his first book on Indian vegetarian food and a tribute to Mother Earth. It is full of nostalgic tales of his childhood, and in many ways ‘our childhood’. The ‘mitti ki khushboo‘ or the smell of the wet soil, planting his own vegetable patch, the vegetable vendors with fresh vegetables, seasons that spelt fresh produce {unlike now when you almost get everything round the year} … a touching evocative connect with the soil of the land. The book is beautifully written, with stunning pictures and recipes that call your name.

Phalsa ka Sharbat With so much talk of the connect of the earth, including the shrill call of the vendor that pierced the afternoon silence then, it’s a good time to share this recipe. I make the Phalsa Berry Sharbat every year, changing the recipe as I evolve, always in panic like the berries might disappear or go out of fashion. The phalsa season is a short one here just through May and June. Juicing these in my Thermomix is a breeze … which is why I make this quite often.

Phalsa ka Sharbat 6Phalsa ka Sharbat Not sure if taste buds change as the years go by, or the flood of flavours available and sugar laden options in packaged juices snatch simple pleasure away. Maybe it’s the slightly astringent aftertaste, but unfortunately, this isn’t the kids favourite sharbat. The boy loves his aam panna or raw mango sharbat, the daughter her cranberry juice. Thankfully both also love the daily fresh watermelon juice & smoothies.

Phalsa ka SharbatThe Phalsa Berry Sharbat takes the summer heat away, refreshes the soul, gives you a generous dose of vitamin C and antioxidants … what more can you ask for in these ‘oven like’ months? Oh yes, and if it takes you on a trip down memory lane, that’s even better! I’m loving it!!

[print_this]Recipe: Phalsa Berry Sharbat
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Summary: Refreshing, cooling and right for the Indian summer, the Phalsa Berry Sharbat is just what the doctor ordered! Sweet, tangy, uplifting, it’s a summer cooler packer with vitamins and antioxidants. Serves 4-6

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

  • 250g phalsa berries
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp black rock salt
  • 250ml water


  1. Wash the berries gently, drain and soak for a few hours, or overnight in the water.
  2. Add the sugar and rock salt and squish well with hands {or Thermomix speed 6 , 1 minute}, then strain.
  3. Dilute with cold water as desired. Serve over ice cubes, garnished with fresh mint.


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If life gives you lemons, and you are lucky enough to have plums too,
…make plum lemonade!
I bookmarked this the minute I saw it. The summer through, I keep a pitcher of fresh lime juice waiting for the kids when they come back from school, exhausted from the severe heat and looking for cool respite. They absolutely love fresh lime juice and guzzle it down hungrily, greedily sucking at the ice cubes in the end. When the Indian phalsa berry season was on, they enjoyed this phalsa cooler, and once in a while they luxuriated with a tall glass of peach ice tea {from a mix unfortunately}. Home made ginger ale added new dimension, and then the plum lemonade caught my eye!
It had me intrigued as I had never looked at plums as ‘coolers‘. My first plum adventure this season, rather at the end of the season, was the plum granita where a scraped vanilla bean was used {yet to post}. I loved the depth of flavour the vanilla added to it, so I used vanilla sugar in the lemonade instead of regular sugar. YUM refreshing, delicious to the last drop. Also, this time I ran the plums in the liquidizer/blender rather than the food processor as I did earlier! Gosh, so much less elbow grease used, and so much simpler! Live and learn!!

This is a rather quick post o the trot. With work in the kitchen swinging by at it’s own pace, I hardly get time to blog or blog hop. Supervising means hanging around in the heat and dust, and the laptop isn’t happy tto keep me company. Hope to be back to being more regular here, and at my favourite blogs soon!

Plum Lemonade

Adapted minimally from Chef is You
Serves 6-8
About 12 small ripe plums, halved and pitted
4-5 cups of water, or as needed
2-3 limes, or as needed
1 cup vanilla sugar {decrease if your plums are sweet. Mine were super sour}
Ice cubes to serve

Run the ingredients, other than the water, in a blender until smooth. Taste and adjust sugar if required. Pass through a sieve. Add water as required, keeping in mind that ice cubes will dilute the taste further.
Garnish with fresh mint and lime slices, and serve over ice cubes.

Note: In the words of Chef is You,Keep this idea as a base to customize it to your taste and requirements. If you like tart lemon taste more, add more lemon juice. My plums were very sweet hence I added very little sugar.

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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“Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun”
Noel Cowards
The origin of that expression is from Rudyard Kipling who once described the delirium produced by the sun in India, observing that only “mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun”. We fitted in right with it when we went out in the afternoon yesterday. Was it hot, or was it hot? Mr PAB, who is just recovering from a bad bout of tummy virus, dehydration and subsequent hospitalisation, had some urgent pending work, so yours truly volunteered to play chauffeur! What kept me going was the thought of getting back home to some chilled ale!

Ouf!! We’ve had a hot summer, and when I say hot, I mean HOT! The temperatures have consistently stayed in the mid 40C’s and there has been little respite. This is the peak of the North Indian summer, which is known for being as treacherous and unrelenting as can be. It’s customary for folk like me to wake up each morning and whiff the morning air for any hint of rain coming our way. ZILCH! Day after day we are faced with heat and dust, and power-cuts of course!
What makes the heat bearable and often enjoyable is refreshing posts like this one by Aran Goyoaga of Canelle et Vanille, an award winning blogger who continues to amaze and inspire me with her posts. The minute I saw the ginger ale, the mixology and the bubbles, I knew it was going to be a happy summer. Suddenly life seemed so much more bearable and worthwhile! Summer is for ginger ale! YES! I truly loved Aran’s post at Design Sponge, characteristic of her aesthetic photographs and her evocative writing. The advent of fresh ginger this season had me longing for ale. A simple and fun recipe, with ‘mixology’ thrown in, something for everyone… what more could we want this summer?

The glasses I’ve served the bubbly in are typically the sort found across India, and are used to serve tea in road-side tea stalls. They’ve been around for as long as I can remember. I remember seeing them when we used to travel by train as kids. It was either these or little terracotta cups, but they form a part of  the essence of India. I had gone into the heart of the old city a few days go on work, and found an old lady selling tea in these. Of course I immediately asked her if I could buy a set. She pleaded with her rather unrelenting old man, eventually persuading him into agreeing, then happily packed them off with me. Her only question was what I would do with these? Sweet lady!

The bottles in the background are also part of our cultural heritage if I may say so. Summer in North India is not complete without crates of these available at every street corner. They are filled with lime juice and sealed with a marble on top, offering a thirst quencher for the man on the street. They are called called ‘bunta-bottle’  in the local lingo, bunta meaning marble. I love the shape of the bottle and the heaviness of the glass too. Though I am now very iffy about the source of water that fills the bottle, I bought them for their rustic charm!

To get to the mixology stage, with strawberries being from a season gone by, my next best bet for a consommé  lay in peaches.Yes, indeed, stone fruits – the other thing that makes summer so much fun. Googling didn’t throw up anything, so I did what I thought was best, and made a consommé of peaches. Since it was less potent than strawberry consommé, I had to use more than 1 tbsp, and it lent a subtle hint of peachiness to the ale. This ale is a wonderful addition to summer!

Homemade Ginger Ale:
Adapted from Aran Goyoaga’s recipe posted @ Design Sponge
25g fresh ginger, grated
1 cup raw sugar
½ cup water
Juice of 2 limes
1/8 tsp active dry yeast
7 cups water

In a small saucepan, add the grated ginger, raw sugar and ½ cup water. Bring to a boil and let sugar dissolve. Remove pan from heat and let the syrup steep and cool for about 30 minutes.
Strain the syrup through a fine sieve. Mix with the lime juice, yeast and 7 cups of water. Whisk together and using a funnel, pour into a plastic bottle. Screw the cap on the bottle. Make sure it is a plastic bottle and not glass as the gases from the fermentation can crack the glass jar.
Let it ferment at room temperature for about 2 days until carbonation forms. Make sure to refrigerate after it starts to carbonate.

Peach Consommé:
{Aran made a sweet strawberry consommé}
1 lb fresh peaches, peeled, pitted & chopped
½ cup sugar

In a bowl, toss together the peaches and sugar. Cover the bowl and let them macerate for 2-3 hours, and puree.
Strain through a coffee filter and leave to stand undisturbed for 4-5 hours. Do not press as we only want to collect the clear juice.

1/2 cup homemade ginger ale
2 Tbs peach consommé
1 Tbs vodka to taste (optional)
Fresh lemon slices
In a rocks glass mix the ingredients. Add ice to chill. Squeeze a fresh lemon to taste and garnish with fresh lemon and strawberry slices. Serve and enjoy!

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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