Recipes: Summer soothers
Six ways to make the most of the season’s bounty of fruits and vegetables
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Summer is all about the joys of jamun-stained tongues and licking the mango gutli (seed) clean. The markets are flooded with watermelons, love apples (rose apple or jaam), lychees and tadgolas (ice apple or palm fruit)—all cooling fruits, guaranteed to make the summer a bit more bearable. So let’s celebrate the fruity summer produce with these cool recipes:
The scorching heat demands copious amounts of cold drinks. Instead of reaching for that can of aerated drink or sugar-laden fruit juice, go au naturel—think freshly squeezed juices, buttermilk and coconut water. For your summer parties, big jugs of sangria would be a guaranteed hit. Instead of the usual apple or pear sangria, try a seasonal fruit. The sweet-and-tart jamun (black plum or java plum) reportedly controls blood pressure and lowers blood glucose levels but, in this context, it makes for a super-surprising cooler.
1 bottle rosé wine
2 cups jamun juice (preferably fresh juice)
1 cup apple juice
15-20 jamuns, deseeded and chopped
Half cup pomegranate seeds
Half cup apple, finely chopped
Half cup brandy
One by fourth cup sugar syrup
Mix all the ingredients in a tall jug. Adjust sugar to taste. Refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours.
Serve chilled. Optionally, top it with sparkling water or club soda to lighten it.
—Amrita Ramsinghani, blogger at www.lifekirecipe.com
For a country where the temperature in some cities routinely crosses 40 degrees Celsius, it’s a mystery why cold soups are not more popular. Spain has its gazpacho and its Andalusian cousin, the salmorejo (blend tomatoes, bread, garlic and olive oil, and refrigerate) but we rarely exploit our summer produce for soups. A watermelon gazpacho is an interesting take on the Spanish classic. Alternatively, try making an Italian-style minestrone with fruits like watermelon, mango, and peach; add cooked pasta to make a filling one-bowl meal.
Chilled Melon Soup
1 medium muskmelon, cut into chunks
Half small watermelon, cut into chunks
5-6 jalapeño slices
1 small onion, finely chopped
6-8 mint leaves
Kala namak (black salt) and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lime
6 tsp hung curd
Whole mint leaves for garnish
Remove one by fourth cup of each melon, chop finely and keep aside.
Finely chop two jalapeño slices and mix with the melon and onion. Season with rock salt and pepper. Refrigerate.
Blend the remaining melon chunks along with mint leaves and the rest of the jalapeños. Use about one by fourth cup of water to make a thick soup base. Season with black salt.
Refrigerate the soup for at least 2 hours.
To serve, mix the soup base, the melon mixture and the lime juice. Pour in serving bowls. Garnish each bowl with 1 tsp hung curd and a few mint leaves.
—Monika Manchanda, blogger at www.sinamontales.com
Salad greens are fresh and plentiful in summer, and a simple bowl of mixed greens tossed in vinaigrette is a light, healthy and, most importantly, quick meal. Watermelon makes for a delicious addition to salads, combined with love apples.
Watermelon and Love Apple Salad
2 cups watermelon, chopped and deseeded
2 cups love apple, chopped
1 tbsp chives, chopped
Half tbsp preserved lime, finely chopped
Half tsp green chillies
1 tbsp onion, sliced
1 tsp chaat masala
1 tbsp cilantro
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Lime juice, salt, pepper and sugar, to taste
2 tbsp malai paneer, crumbled
Mix all the ingredients except the paneer in a large bowl. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
Transfer to a plate and top with crumbled paneer. Serve cold.
—Thomas Zacharias, executive chef at The Bombay Canteen, Mumbai.
Sorbet is a non-fat or low-fat alternative to ice cream, and makes not just a (relatively) guilt-free dessert but a wonderful palate cleanser as well. Most fruits can be used to make sorbets. Possibly of Arabic origin, sorbets were perfected by the Italians. The use of sorbet as a palate cleanser dates back to the 1500s, when Italian noblemen served these iced treats between courses. A recipe recently unearthed in Germany points to another use of the sorbet: iced sugar, lemon, eggs and ambergris—a secretion from the digestive system of a sperm whale—was used as an aphrodisiac!
For the sorbet syrup
10g invert sugar (available in most large supermarkets, in granulated or syrup form)
90ml liquid glucose
For the lychee sorbet
250g lychee purée
10ml orange juice
Half tsp lemon juice
50ml sorbet syrup
10g gel mix (available at speciality baking stores)
Boil all the ingredients of the sorbet syrup and set aside till cool. Mix all the ingredients of the sorbet in an ice-cream machine, and churn till set.
Scoop out the sorbet with an ice-cream scoop and serve cold.
The Middle-Eastern mezze platter may be the conventional appetizer, but some of the dishes make for a light and refreshing main course as well. The tolma is a Georgian version of the dolma, grape or cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and vegetables. Meat tolmas are usually served warm while the vegetarian ones can be served cold. Traditionally, tolmas are stuffed with tomatoes, zucchini, aubergine, bell pepper, etc. Replace the veggies with summer fruits and you have an unusual main dish for your summer party.
Watermelon and Spinach Tolma
Serves 2, two portions each
For the chilli Alphonso dressing
100ml mango purée
30ml lemon juice
2 red chillies
100ml olive oil
Salt, to taste
For the ‘tolma’
4 watermelon rings or thick slices
100g feta, whipped
80g spinach, blanched
100g watermelon, diced
8 walnut halves
4 fried red chillies
40ml chilli Alphonso dressing
Mix the ingredients for the chilli Alphonso dressing, adjust the seasoning and refrigerate.
For the tolma, place the watermelon rings (or slices) on a serving plate. Layer with feta and blanched spinach.
Garnish with diced watermelon, walnuts and fried chillies.
Serve the chilled dressing on the side.
—Sabyasachi Gorai, owner and director of Lavaash by Saby, New Delhi.
A frozen dessert is the best way to round off a summer meal. Whether it’s in golas and iced lollies or in ice creams and gelatos, summer fruits make excellent frozen treats. Each of India’s wide range of mangoes—the sweet Alphonso, the fragrant Kesar, the tart Totapuri—can be used to make a summer dessert. A kulfi is easy to make and is a much more satisfying dessert than any ice cream.
Kesar Mango Kulfi
1 litre full-cream milk
A pinch of saffron
250g condensed milk
1 tbsp cornflour
One by fourth cup fresh cream
One by fourth cup almonds, blanched and de-skinned
One by fourth cup cashews
2 tbsp pistachios, blanched and de-skinned
1 cup mango purée
Almond and pistachio slivers for garnish
Heat the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan, and reduce to simmer when it comes to a boil.
Add saffron and continue cooking till the milk is reduced almost to half. Keep stirring at regular intervals to prevent the milk from burning.
Add condensed milk.
Dissolve the cornflour in a little water and add this mixture to the milk. Add the fresh cream.
Coarsely grind the almonds, cashews and pistachios and add to the milk mixture.
Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Once cooled, add the mango purée and mix well.
Pour the mixture into kulfi moulds and freeze till set.
Remove the kulfi from the moulds by dipping the mould in water for a few seconds.
Garnish with almond and pistachio slivers and serve frozen.
—Neha Mathur, blogger at www.whiskaffair.com