Bael ka Sherbet

by Nirupama Khunnah

Aegle marmelos or BAEL, is a naturalized species of tree native to India. The bael fruit has a smooth, woody shell with a green, gray, or yellow peel. The shell is so hard it must be cracked with a hammer. The fibrous yellow pulp is very aromatic. The fruit is eaten fresh or dried. If fresh, the juice is strained and sweetened to make a drink similar to lemonade. It can also be made into sherbet.

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In the system of Ayurveda the use of bael is prescribed in diseases such as gastro intestinal diseases, piles, oedema, jaundice, vomiting, obesity, pediatric disorders, gynecological disorders, urinary complaints and as a rejuvenative.

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Besides the wide medicinal utility the plant and its certain parts (leaves and fruits) are of religious importance since the tree is regarded as one of the sacred trees of Indian heritage associated with Shiva.

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The Bilva tree in the Shiva Purana

According to the Shiva Purana (7 AD) the Bilva tree is the manifest form of Lord Shiva himself, while all the great tirthas (pilgrimage places) are said to reside at its base. One who worships the shivalingam while sitting under the Bilva, claims this great epic, attains the state of Shiva. Washing the head by this tree is said to be the equivalent of bathing in all the sacred rivers. One who performs Bilva pooja with flowers and incense achieves Shiva loka, the abode of pure consciousness, and has happiness and prosperity bestowed upon them. The lighting of the deepak (lamp) before this tree bestows knowledge and enables the devotee to merge in Lord Shiva. The Shiva Purana also claims that if the devotee removes the new leaves from one of the branches of that tree and worships the tree with them, they will be freed from vice, while one who feeds a devotee under the Bilva will grow in virtue.

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Sri Bilva Shtakam (v. 6–7)

Born from the breasts of Goddess Lakshmi, the Bilva tree is ever dear to Mahadeva. So I ask this tree to offer a Bilva leaf to Lord Shiva. To have darshan of the Bilva tree, and to touch it, frees one from sin. The most terrible karma is destroyed when a Bilva leaf is offered to Lord Shiva.

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The famous Bilvashtakam extols the virtues of the Bilva leaf and Shiva’s love for it. The tree has been held sacred for many millennia and offerings made to Shiva are incomplete without Bilva leaves. There are many symbolisms attributed to this leaf ~ the trifoliate leaves or tripatra are believed to represent various trinities – creation, preservation and destruction or the three syllables that make up AUM, the primordial sound that resonates Shiva’s essence. The three leaves are also considered to indicate Mahadeva’s three eyes, or the trishul, his emblematic weapon.

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Mrs.Nirupama Khunnah, an avid gardener, is passionate about all the flowers, trees and shrubs that grow in her garden. Growing up, there was a Bael tree in her backyard. All through summer, her family made Bael Sherbet for the family members and visiting friends. She continued the tradition when she started a family of her own. This recipe is a throw back to the times of no Colas and bottled drinks. Everything was freshly made from seasonal produce. The availability of Bael is April to June, just the right drink for the time of hot summer winds.

Her recipes for home-made Sherbats from seasonal local Indian fruits are a treasure and need to be preserved. These Fruit Sherbets are known for their cooling properties. They are also rich in natural minerals required by the body to replenish water content and minerals lost due to sweating in the severe hot summer months.

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The hard shell of the Bael is really tough and needs to be broken with a hammer. The inner soft, yellow pulp is gently scooped out into a bowl.

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Although the pulp has a naturally sweet taste, to make it into a Sherbet, more sugar needs to be added.

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Clean drinking water is added so as to soak the pulp and get the sugar to dissolve.

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The soaked pulp and sugar is left as is for 4 to 5 hours, so as to let the sugar dissolve and the pulp to soften.

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The secret of the deliciousness of her Sherbet comes from her gently mincing the soaked pulp with her fingers. If the pulp is mashed violently, the taste will turn bitter.

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The straining step is just as important. She just lets the syrupy liquid strain through a fine strainer. If mashed against the mesh, the liquid will lose its beautiful golden colour. Instead of the clear transparent liquid, it will become opaque and heavy.

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Bael ka Sherbet

Ingredients ~
1 medium size Bael
250gms sugar
1 lt water

Method ~
1. Crack the Bael and scoop the flesh into a bowl.
2. Add the sugar and 1/2 lt water, cover and leave for about 4-5 hrs.
3. Gently knead the flesh of the Bael and strain through a sieve into a clean bowl. Do not rub the flesh in the sieve, just let the juice drip naturally.
4. Put the flesh of the Bael from the sieve back into the original bowl, add more water and knead again. Strain like this 2-3 times till you feel all the taste has been extracted. The juice should be clear, not cloudy.
5. Refrigerate and use within 2 days or the juice ferments.
6. Pour half a glass of the concentrated sherbet into a glass and top with cold water or soda. Serve with ice.
7. Alternatively, use with lemon juice and salt instead of sugar.

 

Shahtoot ka Sherbet

by Nirupama Khunnah

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Black Mulberry or Morus nigra are thought to have originated in the mountainous areas of Mesopotamia and Persia and are now widespread throughout Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, India, Pakistan, Syria, and Turkey, where the tree and the fruit are known by the Persian-derived names toot or shahtoot  (king’s or “superior” mulberry). Jams and sherbets are often made from the fruit in this region. ~ Wikipedia

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Much to my amazement, there are many Shahtoot trees growing all along the roads in Gurgaon. My staff took me around to find the best berries still on the branches. It was such a pleasure to photograph the fruit right on the tree. A city person like me shared their excitement in foraging for the berries and getting a basketful back home to eat and make into sherbet.

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The ripe fruit of Shahtoot or Indian Mulberry is edible and is widely used in pies, tarts, wines, cordials and tea. The fruit of the black mulberry, have the strongest flavor. Mulberries are acutally a good source of raw food protein, a rarity in the fruit kingdom. They are also a good source of magnesium, potassium, riboflavin, iron, calcium, vitamin C, and fiber. One of the mulberry’s greatest health assets is it’s high concentration of resveratrol, an antioxidant currently being studied for its effects on heart health. An ancient fruit of Asia, the mulberry is touted in medicinal folklore as a remedy for ringworm, insomnia, arthritis, and tapeworm.

007Home-made Sherbets from Seasonal Local Indian Fruits is a specialty of Nirupama Khunnah. Family and guests are served these delicious, healthy drinks in the summer months. Lazy evenings are enjoyed by all in her cool garden, sipping these home-made drinks, enjoying the breeze of a large old fashioned garden pedestral fan.

She keeps the recipe simple, using just the fruit and lemon juice. Gently straining the muddled mixture is a must to get a clear sherbet.

 

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Fruit Sherbets are known for their cooling properties. They are also rich in natural minerals required by the body to replenish water content and minerals lost due to sweating in the severe hot summer months.

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Shahtoot ka Sherbet

Ingredients ~

1/2kg Shahtoot
3 tbsp sugar
3 lemons, juice
Salt to taste (rock salt if you prefer)
1 lt water

Method ~

1. Remove the stems from the Shahtoot and wash gently.
2. Place the berries and sugar in a blender.
3. Add 1 glass of water and blend till fine. Thin the paste with more water.
4. Strain through a fine sieve.
5. Add the remaining water, salt and lemon juice to taste.
6. Serve with lots of ice.

 

Kali Gajar ki Kanji

by Maya Khanna

Kali Gajar ki Kanji  or Black Carrot Kanji is a fermented drink made in North India with black carrots around the time of Holi, the festival of colours. Black carrots along with ground mustard are fermented in water to make a delicious beverage. This traditional fermented drink is healthy and aids digestion.

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Before the 17th century, almost all cultivated carrots were deep purple, almost black in colour. Dutch farmers developed the modern day orange carrot by crossing various cultivated and wild carrots. According to the World Carrot Museum, black or purple carrots are Middle Eastern in origin, and may have first appeared in Turkey or Syria. They are more common in countries like India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt and Turkey.

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While purple carrots provide many of the same health benefits as orange carrots, they also offer some extraordinary nutritional benefits due to their high concentration of anthocyanins, which give black vegetables and berries their intense hues and strong health-boosting properties. Anthocyanins in purple carrots may provide health benefits like anti-carcinogenic effects against colon cancer cells, strong anti-inflammatory properties, eye health protecting qualities and improved vascular health.

Maya Khanna is an exceptional cook and the person to go to for traditional Indian recipes, sweet or savory. Her skill in the kitchen has been enhanced by her having to entertain at home on her husband’s insistence. From having large family gatherings to entertaining business associates, she has cooked for all and her food is much appreciated for its taste and variety. Her expertise in the kitchen is much acknowledged by all and documenting her recipes is a must.

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She shares with us the recipe of a traditional drink, Kali Gajar ki Kanji. It’s generally made in the beginning of the year when black carrots are available in North India. She demystifies the making of this delicious drink with her super easy recipe. The only hard part is waiting for it to ferment so as to achieve the right degree of sourness.

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Kali Gajar ki Kanji

Ingredients ~

1/2 kg black carrots
2 lts water
5 tbsp red rai/mustard, ground
2 tbsp salt
1/4 tsp red chili powder

Method ~

1. Wash the carrots, peel them and cut them into 2 inch batons.
2. In a steel vessel, boil the water. Add the carrots and bring the water back to a boil.
3. Take it off the stove and leave to cool uncovered.
4. When cold, add salt, ground rai and chili powder.
5. Cover the vessel with a muslin cloth.
6. Keep it covered for 5 days in the sun, for the flavours to mature.
7. Once sour, convert into a glass, covered jug and refrigerate.
8. Serve cold in glasses accompanied with the carrots, which can be eaten on their own as pickles.
9. Keeps well for 2 weeks in the fridge.

 

Aam Panna

by Shivani Khanna

Aam Panna, is a popular beverage made from raw green mangoes in the hot summer months in North India. It’s a tasty and healthy beverage drunk cold, to fight against the intense Indian summer heat. 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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aam_panna

Aam pana 003When Shivani Khanna moved to Gurgaon, her beautiful large kitchen inspired her to try out unique cuisines and recipes while entertaining friends and family. She has a long history of giving cooking and baking classes to children and ladies. Apart from taking classes, she has made liquor chocolates, desserts and cakes on request for family and friends. With the support of her family, she has combined her two passions of cooking and meeting people and started Sttudio 292, a culinary studio in Gurgaon.

038Shivani remembers that Aan Panna was drunk  everyday at her mother’s house at lunch time. It is still the practice today. According to her mother, it kept them safe from the effect of the hot summer winds. When she came back from school and when her father came home for lunch from work, Aam Panna was served before eating. The memories of this delicious beverage have not been forgotten and Shivani replicates this recipe and makes Aam Panna the way her mother does. She has also posted it for her Online group, Sttudio 292 Club and it has been a hit with them.

Aam pana 026It is a very simple recipe yet so delicious that its made time and again. The mangoes are boiled till their skin breaks open. Then the flesh is gently rubbed off the seed and the peel. Sugar, salt, ground cumin and fresh green mint paste is added to the blended boiled mango and water. The end result is a beverage tasting in equal parts sweet, sour and minty with a good dose of cumin.

009This drink is mainly consumed in the Northern part of the India and is considered beneficial in the treatment of gastro-intestinal disorders. This drink is also a good source of vitamin B1 and B2 and contains sufficient quantity of niacin, and since it is prepared from raw mangoes it is an excellent source of vitamin C also. Aam Panna is also considered as a curative for blood disorders because of its high vitamin C content. It increases the elasticity of the blood vessels and helps in the formation of new blood cells. This drink is also considered as a tonic which increases body resistance against tuberculosis, anemia, cholera and dysentery.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aam_panna

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Aam Panna

Ingredients :

½ kg green mangoes
100 gms sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground roasted cumin
2 bunches mint leaves, paste
1 lt. water

Method :

1. Roast whole cumin in a dry pan. Once fragrant take off the heat and leave to cool. Grind it into a powder in the blender.
2. Boil green mangoes in water in a covered pan till the skin breaks and the mangoes feel soft and cooked. They will still be firm in shape.
3. Add sugar into the pan with the mangoes and water while its still hot to help the sugar melt. Don’t stir it.
4. When cool, gently rub the mango flesh off the skin and the seed otherwise it will become bitter. Discard the skin and the seed of the mango.
5. Hand blend the mango and sugar mix.
6. Take fresh mint and grind it in the blender. Do this only when ready to mix or the colour of the mint turns dark if kept for too long.
7. Add the ground mint paste, freshly ground roasted cumin, salt into the mango mixture. Stir all together and strain.
8. Bottle it concentrated or dilute it to your taste and refrigerate. The taste should be sweet and sour with a good dose of mint. The green colour of mint is very appealing.
9. It can be stored for a week in the refrigerator. Serve with lots of ice.