With the pre-monsoon showers taking a much-needed pause, the bright clear sunshine has cranked up the temperatures a notch. Thankfully, it’s just the low 30s and nothing more. Every Sunday we have the local farmers’ market here in our small town. We found some bael and my mother decided it was time to a sherbet again.
The hard woody bael is known as wood apple or stone apple in other parts of the world. It can be found in abundance in Northeast India, aided by the warm humid climate. The tree reaches about ten meters in height and the elders in this part of the country will advise you not to sit in its shade during the early summer months. The fruit can weigh up to 300 grams and can cause a good amount of damage if it happens to fall on someone.
My mother gave the bael a few whacks with a wooden ladle and we cracked it open to reveal the rich orange pulp inside. The pulp smells delicious and sweet. We scrap it against a sieve to squeeze out the liquid in a large bowl. My mother added some sugar and salt, gave it a nice mix and it was ready to serve – quick, easy and absolutely amazing. The creamy texture and the sweet smell make it great drink on hot summer days.
You could make the drink with curd and some condensed milk too, my mother just mentioned. Honey can be used as a substitute for the sugar. Some people also add milk. I really enjoyed the flavour and the texture is something that I think would go well in a pie. My mother frowned upon the idea, but I am determined to show her that it could work, just like a lime pie I made a few years ago. But that is for another day. Here is the simple recipe to a simple, cool summer drink.
Ingredients for one drink –
- Stone apple/wood apple/Bael – 2 ripe one. You will know by the smell that they are ripe. Trust your instinct and you will be rewarded.
- Chilled Water – 300 ml
- Sugar – 1 and half tablespoon (Taste the fruit to check it sweetness and adjust the sugar accordingly)
- Salt to taste
- Crack open the fruit and scrap the pulp out into a wide sieve.
- Squeeze the pulp through to release the juice onto a bowl below.
- Check the juice’s sugar level and then add the water and extra sugar along with some salt.
- Throw in a few ice cubes in a tall glass and pour the juice into it. Garnish with a few mint leaves
There a loads of other ways to make this sherbet. Like I said, you could add half a cup of curd and half a glass of water instead. There is another recipe where you can add milk and even buttermilk. If you want a smoother drink, just add a little extra water to the recipe above. If you like it a little thick with a smoothie-like consistency, refrain on adding all the 300 ml of water. Now sit back, turn the TV on and relax as you take a sip!