by Nirupama Khunnah
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
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.
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.
Home-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.
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.
3 tbsp sugar
3 lemons, juice
Salt to taste (rock salt if you prefer)
1 lt water
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.