"I doubt whether the world holds for any one a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice-cream."
My last post was about my favourite summer fruit, which is nothing short of indulgence.
However not all fruits of this season are to be blamed to go straight to the hips. One such is the Indian Blackberry or Jaamun/Jaam as we call it here.
Although there is a riot of colours at the vendors’ cart, you can’t help but notice this raging crimson-purple oblong shaped berry.
Jamun (Sygium cumini L) also known as Myrtus cumini and Eugenia jambolanum is classified as a minor fruit since most of the trees have been planted accidentally by the ancestors of farmers, who are now happy to find a tree or two on their plots of land. They were grown mainly for shade along roads and highways and in coffee estates to provide shelter for the coffee plants. Cultivation has not been actively encouraged by the government and plantations do not exist. Sigh!
You can read more about the fruit here and here.
I remember my mother using this fruit to make red vinegar and soaking up baby onions in it for a week or two. Those onions then blushed in all their bright hue and decorated any platter with their mere presence (especially with a chicken dish). Ofcourse the tangy oniony taste was the talk of the meal !
Though indigenous to India, these fruits will remind you of the astringency of a good Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (Italian red wine). The same inadvertent ‘ch-tack’ and pursing of the lips after a sip (in this case ‘bite’) is inevitable. You develop a taste for it as with all good things. :)
The harvesting season lasts from the end of March to the beginning of June so, while they were still to be seen , I picked up quite a few to eat…I love nibbling in between meals and what better way than to pop these fruits (coated with some sea-salt) in my mouth and roll away, sucking the sweet-tart juice.
After eating quite a few; the insides of my mouth all purple black and when my tongue refused to take any more astringency of the fruit I decided to make something different out of it.
Thought …thought….and thought till it hit me why not use them (whatever little was left...chuckle!) along with some preserved blue berries to make a Gelato.
What a feast of colour it was right through the process! Talking about colour, I just wanted to share that purple coloured foods are full of antioxidants that prevent and some times reverse the ageing process. So ladies what are you waiting for…the elixir of youth lies in your own kitchen!
There is also a popular short story which features this fruit, and is related to kids during their primary schooling years, about a monkey and a crocodile. We once did a play to the effect, with some children of an orphanage. If interested you can find it here.
Blue berry and Indian Black berry Gelato-
approx. 30 gms of firm Jamun/Indian blackberries
1 cup granulated sugar (adjust sugar according to tartness of jamuns)
4 tbsp dried blueberries, (soaked in two tbsp of warm milk for five minutes)
1/2 lt. skimmed milk
1 tin condensed milk (400 gm)
1 1/4 tsp of strawberry/vanilla extract (your choice)
1 cup whipping cream (25% fat)
Clean the tart berries by washing them under running tap water.
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan, heat the berries with the sugar, till they become soft and pulpy.Mash and strain, thus removing all the seeds.Set aside.
At this point I would like to mention that the berries I used here were not very ripe, still very tart and I used a very small amount (since it was a tester) so I could not get the colour. But if using ripe berries/jamuns, you will get a lovely crimson hued pulp.
In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the milk. Mix in the condensed milk and stir continuously to avoid forming lumps. Bring to a boil.
Let cool. Add the whipping cream, extract and jamun pulp. Blend in a food processor.
Pour in a tin/tupperware container and freeze. After an hour, take out the half-set mixture and whip at medium speed. Add the soaked blue berries now.
Pour in ice-cream container and freeze, preferably overnight.