Indian summer is a paradox. You love it and hate it both at the same time.
Shared above is one of the reasons why I love it. The seasonal, sweet and tangy fruits that are best enjoyed fresh and as they are, but in case you want a little convenience or want to send them to loved ones, many fruits can be processed into squashes that would last longer in this form. If refrigerated, for about ten days easily – without sealing, vacuuming or freezing. This stuff is usually over before it comes close to its ‘best before’, and gives you great freedom over how much sugar to use, whether to keep the natural flavor of fruit as the sole element of taste or to add a hint of spices (or to let spices dominate the taste). Here is how I do it.
1. I measure fruit by volume and not weight and remind myself to change proportions depending on how ripe and how sour the fruit is.
2. Usually I process several fruits together – that effectively uses the time slot and generates variety.
Presented above are the fruits in the following order: Black Grapes and Jamun mix, Green Mango with mint and coriander, Falsa and the last one is lemon with coriander and fresh mint.
1. Wash fruits separately with plenty of water with soft hands, picked out the ones that looked beyond their best and soaked them in water for some time (especially because I saw the black grapes laced with white chemical). After good soaking, drain the fruit. Do not wipe or pat-dry. I drain them in colanders.
2. The fruit had the following weight:
Black seedless, sweet grapes: one Kg
Jamun – ripe and soft: 250 g
Green mangoes: five-six medium-sized ones
Falsa: 250 g
Lemon: 250 g
Spices: Salt, black salt, freshly ground black pepper, ground jeera, fresh mint (about 200 g, fresh coriander about 200 g)
Here is how I processed each:
Back Grapes and Jamun Mix:
1. Liquefy the grapes and strain the juice in a large bowl. I use a strainer made of wire mesh, and a spatula in order to retain maximum fruit.
2. Take Jamun and carefully cut small pieces off their seeds in such a way that only the Jamun flesh is taken off. Put the pieces aside.
3. Taste the grape juice and Jamuns separately for their sweetness.
4. Add to grape juice in small quantities, about one bowl of sugar syrup to the grape juice and whisk. (for recipe and detail of sugar syrup, scroll to bottom) Taste and adjust the proportion of syrup. In general, if you had two bowls of grapes (before blending) + 1/2 bowl of jamun, you could expect to use about one or 1.25 bowl of sugar depending on how sweet the grapes and jamuns are.
5. Add Jamun pieces and allow to cool.
6. When cooled down, add two teaspoon salt.
7. When completely cool, transfer to a bottle.
1. Green mangoes can be difficult to clean because of glue-like resin at the top of their head. Once cleaned thoroughly, boil them until very tender. you can use a pressure-cooker (about 2 whistles) or place them in boiling water for about 25-30 minutes. Poke a knife inside a mango. if the knife goes in very easily, the mango is steamed.
2. Allow to cool completely before peeling. You can prick boiled mangoes for allowing steam to escape.
3. Peel mangoes, remove pulp from the seeds (Gotla) and mesh the pulp using hand-help blender. Use the blender only to remove chunks. Do not over-mesh so that it is a sticky paste. I usually run the blender for several VERY brief lengths of time at low speed.
4. Take fresh mint (2 cups) and coriander stems (1/3 cup). If the mint stems are green and tender, retain the tender parts of the stems, otherwise pick out the mint leaves. Cut the bottom part of the coriander stems, retaining the tender parts. Combine in 3:1 proportion and grind until they become paste-like. Do not add water. For this, I use the small cup-sized jar of my blender.
5. For a bowl of mango pulp, expect to use about 1.5 to 2 bowls of sugar syrup (for instructions on syrup, scroll to bottom).
6. Add the mint+coriander paste and whisk. Add salt to taste and two teaspoon-fulls of ground jeera.
7. Add 1.5 teaspoons of black salt and mix well.
8. Usually two table spoon-fulls of this mix can make a small glass of mango drink that comes close to Baflo (except that Baflo is made using Gud and some people also dress it with Vaghaaar.) Taste to see if you would like to make any particular flavor sharper. Usually these adjustments are in the amount of slats, jeera or syrup.
Falsa are the tiny berries that are so tangy for their size that they surprise you. They come in the full range of Byzantium to Fuchsia. They also have a seed large for their size and little flesh. Some are supple, though. Here is how I go about processing them:
1. Grind the Falsa and separate pulp from seeds using the strainer.
2. For a bowl of pulp, expect to use about 2 bowls of syrup, but you can decide how sweet you want to make it.
3. Whisk and allow to cool.
4. Add 2 teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper.
5. Add 2 spoons of salt.
5. When cool, transfer to a bottle. Some falsa pulp tends to float up in a bottle, so before making a drink, shake the bottle. Usually 2 to 3 table spoons would make a glass of drink.
1. Squeeze the juice of six to 8 lemons and set aside. Some you would have used for adding to Black grapes and Jamun mix.
2. When you have added sugar syrup to other fruit and if some is left, add lemon juice to it. Grind i cup coriander and add some mint leaves if you like.
3. Add salt, jeera and black salt 1 teaspoon each. Mix well, and when cool transfer to a bottle.
1. Take sugar in a large, thick-bottomed pan.
2. Add water in small quantities so that there is just enough water to submerge sugar.
3. Place on the flame and stir continually.
4. Stir until the syrup is thick enough. The test is that you would place a drop of it in a plate, and the syrup would form a pearl, remain still and not run.
5. Syrup of this thickness settles soon in to hard, white form. So, add this syrup to the processed fruit immediately. Mix the syrup with the pulp while whisking.
6. Delay adding hot syrup to lemon juice as much as possible, though you cannot avoid mixing the two while the syrup is still hot. This will change the flavor of lemon a bit, and that is why the distraction from the mint and coriander.