Sunday, July 01, 2012

Bel Sharbat- Aegle marmelos cooler

Last week, everyone in the family was sick turn by turn. First Aaji was down with fever, then it was Indiraben with sudden and severe stomach upset. We are not used to seeing Indiraben go silent (she talks non-stop and has an opinion on every word that reaches her ears) and sit still. Our gardener, Bhaiyyaji, happens to be her special friend - they gossip a lot over many cups of tea - and as soon as he heard that Indiraben is unwell, he ran to a neighbour's garden and got me a ripe Bel fruit for her complete with instructions on how to make the cooler: "Make it NOW and give it to her."
Pictorial: Making bel (or bael) sharbat The bael fruit is said to have medicinal properties and can bring relief for a number of small disorders from stomach upset, acidity, cold, etc. The fruit Bhaiyyaji (he had a headache today :-() got was the size of a biggish cricket ball, with a hard yellow shell which had a crack or two. I had to knock it on the kitchen platform a number of times before I could maneuver the knife and break open the Bel into two unequal pieces. The core is a fibrous, orangish mass interspersed with soft beige seeds. Once cracked open, the fruit gives an extremely delicate, soft and sweet fragrance that more than makes up for the slightly sticky fibrous core. The photo explains itself, that's how I made the bel sharbat. Add water very slowly to mash the fruit pulp. I took a glass (about 200 ml) of chilled water in all and used a little more than half of it while mashing the pulp in the strainer. Add sugar, salt and lime to taste. Best if served chilled.

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