Cool as Cucumber

Masala Panna

 

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Green mangoes are still growing on farms around Pune and vegetable sellers offer green mangoes along with other seasonal vegetables. It is the best time to make a cooling drink called Panna. Masala Panhe is available on the footpaths around Pune and sellers use different masalas to vary the taste.

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The type of mango to use is Rumali , a plump, shapely mango which does not have strings.The recipe that follows is Vijaya Deshmukh's (from Warje) version.

Take 4 green rumali mangoes  and wash them well. Add 500 ml water to a 5 litre pressure cooker/pan with a trivet. On the trivet place a stainless steel pan ( not aluminium ) filled with with the 4 mangoes and 250 ml water. Place weight and cook for three whistles. Take the cooker off the fire and let it cool normally for half an hour or so.

Open the cooker and remove stainless steel pan. Take out the mangoes and peel them Reserve the water in which they were cooked. Remove all the pulp from the mangoes and add 3 1/2 cups of sugar.Dissolve the sugar and whip the pulp in a blender.Add 5 ground elaichis (cardamom) and 2 litres of water to the concentrate and store in a stainless steel pan in the refrigerator immediately.

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Deliciously cooling.


Gol, Gol, Gola

 

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Golas are all over the place now. Colourful redi gadi's (push carts), are visible on every street displaying tall bottles with jewel like juices waiting to be sprinkled over a lolly of crushed ice. The welcoming ring of the brass bell draws children out of their homes.

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Is there a human heart that does not thrill to the herald of the ice lolly man ?

What an exquisite quandary to have to choose a flavour. Kala Khatta (made with black rock salt), Orange, Lemon, Mango, Pineapple, Gulab (Rose), Wala (Khus), Katchi Kairi. Forming_gola_1

And then to watch the ice being crushed into crystals and formed into a lolly around a split bamboo stick.

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Then sprinkled liberally with the syrupy fruit squash of one's choice; to be sucked and drawn out with much relish, until the ice crystals have become compacted and colourless once again.

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It would be great if sorbets ,(which is really French for Gola), could be offered in between courses at Indian restaurants with Indian flavours like kala khatta, katchi kairi , kokum or even paan. It would provide that touch of freshness to cleanse the palate of heavier flavours and prepare the tongue and taste buds for more to come.


Cuppa Cantaloupe

 

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You might have gathered that pavements are in heavy demand here. Pedestrians generally take to the road along with the two, three and four wheelers and weave their way in and around all sorts of life threatening potholes, excavations, manholes and other hazards of a nation on the move.

It makes daily life a challenge. When your heart leaps up, at least ten times a day, as you behold a lorry coming straight at you, or feel the slip stream of a motorcyclist with pretentions to being Evel Knievel, you cannot ever take life for granted and remain in a perpetual state of gratitude for every breath you take.

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Melons , among several other things contend for that space on the pavement and what colourful contenders they are. The large red melon is known as Kharbooza here and the small cantaloupe as kalingad . Musk melon , Cucumis melo, is part of the cucumber family the Cucurbitaceae family of herbaceous vines which originated in India and is one of the oldest plants in the history of the world.

Also known as honeydew it is one of the sweetest and most reasonably priced fruit available this season. It is typically grown in kitchen gardens in villages in India as well as on a larger scale, making fields of pretty blossoms. It is a very healthy food with high amounts of Vitamin A , C and potassium and is also full of anti oxidants.

I make an interesting dessert with cantaloupe by cutting it into cubes and then mixing the cubes into equal parts of cream and ice cream sprinkling the whole with a spoonful of caster sugar. What follows is another nice dessert which is as simple to make:

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One 6"-7" medium sized melon
Juice of 2 lemons
400 gms cream
3 tablespoons caster sugar
1/2 cup ginger syrup

Ginger syrup: 3 tsps grated or ground fresh ginger steeped in 1/4 cup water and strained. 3 tablespoons sugar. Heat the ginger water with the sugar till it melts. Take off the fire and leave to cool.

Cut the top of the melon and take out the seeds with a spoon. Scoop out the pulp leaving the case intact. Make a serrated edge to the top of the melon and refrigerate.

Blend the melon pulp, sugar, lemon juice, ginger syrup and 200 gms of the cream in a mixer. Pour into a bowl . Cover and freeze. When thickened but not set blend in the rest of the cream with a fork till smooth. Refreeze. When set scoop out the ice cream into the melon case and serve immediately.