Posted in Drinks

Exotic Watermelon Juice

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Watermelons originated in Africa. They grow in abundance in India and we simply feast on them in the summers in Ahmedabad. You see watermelon carts at every nook and corner of the city. Most of these are the seeded variety.

Ripe watermelons should feel heavy to the touch and sound hollow when tapped and their rind should not be bruised or scratched. Choose those with symmetrical stripes.

I know somebody who makes kofta curry with watermelon rind. The rind can also be pickled. Does anyone know how to pickle watermelon rind?

Mark Twain was very fond of watermelon and called it the food of angels.

Did you know watermelon is an aphrodisiac? It is the rind of the watermelon that possesses most of the aphrodisiac qualities but isn’t the red of the watermelon in itself so sexy?

This recipe of watermelon juice should be had chilled. It’s totally tempting! Mom made it for one of my birthday parties and my friends devoured it. They said they’d never had something so refreshing. Also, it’s really simple to make.

Here’s the recipe.

Watermelon Juice

Makes 3 – 4 glasses

Ingredients

1 1/2 kg or 3.3 lb watermelon, rind removed and chopped into large pieces

2 1/2 cups cold water

3 tablespoons sugar or 1/4 cup sugar

Juice of 2 lemons

A pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder

5 pepper corns

1/2 inch piece ginger, chopped

8-10 fresh mint leaves

Method

1 Put the cold water into the bowl of the electric mixer. Add the sugar, lemon juice, salt, cardamom powder, pepper corns, ginger, fresh mint leaves, and add just about enough of the chopped watermelon so that the electric mixer doesn’t overflow when you switch it on. Pulse the ingredients for 3-4 minutes. Remove the juice and strain it into a medium sized container. Pulse the remaining watermelon pieces. Strain into the container with the rest of the juice.

2 Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

Posted in Drinks

Mango Fool

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When I read Tiffin by Rukmini Srinivas, it took me back to my childhood in the Air Force camp at Lohegaon in Pune, where my friend Silky and I enjoyed soft, spongy idlis with spicy saambar and gun powder chutney, which her mom used to lovingly cook for us. I adore gun powder chutney, and although MTR and some other companies from the South sell it these days, it’s never come close to what aunty made for us. Those were wonderful times, without a care in the world, and Silky and I are still friends, 30 years later.

Coming back to Rukmini Srinivas and her book Tiffin, the book is part memoir, part cookbook. She dedicates the book to her daughters.
A lot of the conversation in the book revolves around food and she writes with amazing grace and aplomb. She, like many others of her generation, tells stories beautifully. She’s met R.K Narayan, knows him, and has written about her friendship with him. In the end, you get the feeling, she’s a lady with a golden heart. It’s a warm, friendly book that I couldn’t put down once I started.
I’m going to post a recipe from her book called Mango Fool. It’s made with the juice and pulp of raw mangoes and tastes sweet and sour. Have it cold out of the refrigerator. I pressure cooked the mangoes to pulp them.
This is the right time to make Mango Fool because soon we won’t have raw mangoes in season any more.
Mango Fool
Serves 5
Ingredients
2 medium size sour raw mangoes
1 cup sugar or jaggery or brown sugar; more if you want the drink sweeter
A pinch of salt
1/2 inch piece of raw ginger, finely grated
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
A few strands of saffron
1 cup heavy cream (optional)
Method
1 Boil 4 cups of water in a deep saucepan. Gently drop in the whole, unpeeled raw mangoes. Boil them till very soft. Leave to cool.
2 With your fingers squeeze out all the juice and pulp, discarding the stone and peel. Begin squeezing with the peel. Strain.
3 Return the juice with the pulp to the saucepan and add 2 cups water, more if you prefer a thinner drink. Add the sugar, salt and ginger and bring to a boil. Turn the stove off. Stir in the cardamom powder and saffron. Cover, cool and refrigerate.
Posted in Drinks

Thandai

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Holi hai! Spring is in the air, the crops have been harvested, and its time for love, friendship and forgiveness, and the mending of broken relationships. Bring out your pichkaris (water guns) and your water balloons and your colours and get ready to have fun. But, here is what I wish to say. Be gentle, don’t hurt or harm, and be considerate to people who don’t enjoy being smeared with colour. And importantly, save water; water is a precious resource.

What is Holi without Thandai? The delicious drink is among the many eats and drinks customarily had on Holi. This recipe for Thandai is from the Milkmaid Gold Collection of 101 Desserts, a lovely, rare book that is from my cookbook collection and which I don’t think is available in markets any longer. Here is the recipe.

Thandai

Serves 12

Ingredients

1/2 tin Milkmaid

1 1/2 litre milk

8 to 10 soaked and peeled almonds

5 to 6 peppercorns

3 to 4 cardamom pods

2 teaspoons fennel seeds or sauf

1 teaspoon poppy seed essence or khus khus essence

Crushed ice

Garnish

Rose petals

Method

1 Grind soaked and peeled almonds, cardamom and fennel seeds to a fine paste. Blend with other ingredients till well mixed. Strain.

2 Half fill each glass with crushed ice and top up with the above mixture.

3 Serve garnished with rose petals.

You can use 2 tablespoons of poppy seeds or khus khus in place of khus essence.