They keep you cool, help your body function better and make for delicious refreshments on their own. Chef Sanjeev Kapoor lists five fruits you should savour during the summer months
We can’t stress enough the importance of including fruits and vegetables in your diet, to make sure it is a healthy one. During the summer season in India, this becomes easy because we are blessed with an abundance of delicious seasonal fruits – some more popular than others, but all equally good! Here are our top five picks of delectable Indian summer fruits you must try.
If you are in Goa or Mumbai or any place in the Konkan region during the summer months, you will most likely be served a glass of cool kokum sherbet. Kokum sherbet is a popular cooling drink, which helps to ward off sun or heat stroke. Native to the Konkan coast in India, kokum fruits are pulpy and green when young and turn deep red when mature. The part of the fruit we are familiar with is the dark purple, dried, curled-up rind (tough outer skin). These, besides adding an earthy tang to sherbet recipes, also impart a lovely colour that varies from baby pink to dark purple. You can get another variety of kokum known as Lonavala kokum, which is smaller and harder, and is used more widely in Gujarati cuisine.
Star fruit (kamrak)
Also known as carambola, the fruit gets its name from its star-like shape. You might have seen these among the array of berries and fruits sold on street carts, served with a sprinkling of red chilli powder and salt, which complements its tangy taste. High in minerals and vitamins, especially vitamins A and C, star fruit is great for improving digestion and eyesight. It also helps control blood pressure and is good for the heart. One of the best ways to savour good old kamrak is to use it in salads, where it lends a slight tang and plenty of nutrition!
Wood apple (bael)
While the leaves of the wood apple tree are used in the worship of Lord Shiva, the fruit is used to make delicious summer drinks that have stood the test of scorching Indian summers for years! Right from aiding digestion to providing lots of essential minerals, vitamins and antioxidants, bael does you good in several ways. The best example is how it keeps you cool inside, when the temperature is at an all-time high outside! The ripe fruit has a slightly acquired taste, mostly because of its overpowering smell. However, when mixed with other ingredients to make a bael ka sherbet, it tastes delightful. The raw fruit can be enjoyed with salt and pepper or chilli powder, and can also be used, along with the leaves, to prepare chutneys, murabbas and curries.
Ice apple (tadgola)
This is one fruit that is a must-have in summer. Known as ice apple or palm fruit in English, these are beautiful, juicy fruits of the sugar palm tree, indigenous to the coastal areas of India. The light brown or green skin reveals a translucent jelly-like fruit on the inside, which has a fairly neutral taste with a slight hint of sweetness. In several parts of the country, sap collected from the fruit and stem is used to make a refreshing summer drink and is also converted into fermented liquor called toddy. This cooling fruit is ideal for summer, as it helps reduce prickly heat and summer acne, and maintains the electrolyte balance in the body. Also called tadgola, this fruit has natural sugars that aid in keeping energy levels high.
Every part of this versatile fruit – right from the raw and ripe flesh to the seeds – can be used to prepare a number of sumptuous delicacies. One of the best things about raw jackfruit is that it can be passed off as pulled meat! Kathal, as it is called in Hindi, has the perfect texture and ability to absorb flavours, making it a great meat substitute for vegans and vegetarians. The ripe fruit has a wonderful caramel-sweet taste and a slightly chewy texture, which is a delight to incorporate in dessert recipes. A popular traditional recipe is a dosa made with ripe jackfruit, which can be had for breakfast, as a snack and even as dessert.
The author is a celebrity chef and the views expressed in this article are his own