Hottest Summer (May and June)
Rainy Season (July to September)
Hottest Summer – Phase II (Whole of October)
Autumn (November and most of December)
A pretentious Winter (Last week of December) and back to Hot Summer!We do experience what can be called a semblance of Winter for a week towards the end of December, and what a precious, pretentious Winter week it is! We pretend it is the real thing. How else can one explain people in full sleeved jackets in January when it is not even chilly but just pleasant? Could it be to bring out the lovely stuff one has purchased during the ‘Winter Sale’ from Westside or Allen Solly? My annual trek to the Himalayas makes every ‘sale’ purchase totally worthwhile! I was happy when we saw all the snow, experienced serious cold and actually got to wear the jackets. If I wear them here I would end up looking and feeling like a tandoori aloo!
I gather from the information available on mulberry cultivation that the best temperatures for cultivation of this crop is between 16 and 31 deg. Cel. which is generally May or June in colder regions hence it is a Summer Berry after all!
The other day one of my friends and I were reminiscing ‘those days’ when we would eat berries off trees, and she mentioned that she found a mulberry seller near Thane Station only for a few days in the first few weeks of January. Since we were already into February I knew I had missed my chance and was so very disappointed until I spotted them at the newly opened Reliance Mart at Pokhran II, Thane. There they were, about five small cartons all neatly sealed and sitting in a row – just for Rs.25/- each for 200g. I jostled my way and picked two before they got over.
When I was a kid we had a huge Mulberry tree (Shahtoot ka ped) in our backyard and every day the maali (gardener) would shake the branches and let the mulberries plop on the ground. Most of them would fall with a ‘plop’ and the juice would be squished out but we (I must have been about five and my sister about seven) would run about in our shameez (Frocklike innerwear for little girls) gathering the a few good ones, clean them in salted water and stain our hands, dress and teeth eating the juicy fruit. I don’t remember my Mother ever making any sweets or desserts except for those that might have found their way into fruit custards, so I had no idea what I would do with the two packets I purchased.
Mulberries are mostly cultivated for sericulture, a practice taught by China to the rest of the world. Silk worms needed for weaving silk materials (made from the silk glands present in these worms) are said to only feed on mulberry leaves, and this is the prime reason for cultivation of mulberry as a crop. The fruit is basically only a by-product and as such it has never been given any importance in cooking. I gave up silk since the last three years as I really can’t bear the thought of rearing worms just to kill them methodically for adorning myself!
Coming back to the present, the children were thrilled when they saw the fruit as they had never had it before. I somehow felt that these were not as sweet as what we had had as children but then taste has so much to do with nostalgia so I may be mistaken. I let them have half the quantity and asked them whether they would like me to try muffins – if you can have blueberry muffins, why not mulberry muffins? It was Jr.P who said he would rather have ice cream as Naturals does not have mulberry ice cream amongst its range of flavours, and since it was Summer Jr.H felt he was quite right. When it comes to desserts I always allow my children to decide as their reasoning however quirky always turns out more logical than ours, and their choice I have noticed is always more popular, probably because when P or I choose we unconsciously count the amount of butter, APF and calories before anything else.
I hunted quite a bit before I decided to follow the tried and tested kulfi method given on the ‘Brown and Polson Custard pack’, with a few twists which I added from this recipe I found at ‘Food Down Under‘.
The recipe gave me the perfect ice cream, exactly like the one you get at Naturals. I made my own soymilk version too which was also very tasty but not as appetizing to look at. I am sorry about the pictures. The weather is considerably hot so the ice cream started melting despite the fact that I had taken care to freeze the container and the small ladle I used to scoop out the ice-cream!
Vegetarian Mulberry Ice Cream
Whole full fat buffalo milk (I used Gokul) – 1litre
Sugar – 1/2 cup + 1/2 cup
Mulberries – 1 cup (rinsed out twice in clean water)
Vanilla beans – 2
Corn flour – 3tbsps.
Thick cream – 1/2 cup
(I used Amul which I kept overnight in the refrigerator so that the thick cream would rise to the top)
I used the mulberry syrup for both this and the soy ice cream. About 2tbsps for the soy version and rest for this one.
Heat milk in a broad thick bottomed wok or vessel and boil till it reduces to half. Collect the cream on the sides of the vessel. When boiling milk scrape the vanilla from the bean into the milk and boil the milk with the beans. Remove the beans later.
Dissolve cornflour in 1 cup of milk taken from the vessel and add the homogeneous mixture to the hot milk. Mix well till blended uniformly into the milk. Scrape the cream settled on the sides into the milk. Add 1/2 cup sugar and heat again till dissolved. Cool completely.
Updated: It is only when SJ listed the ‘lessons she learnt’ while making this ice cream that I realized the omission:
The cornflour needs to be dissolved in small quantity of cold milk. Take a cup of milk from the vessel. Let it come down to room temperature and then add the cornflour. Whisk it well to blend and add the solution to the hot milk whisking the milk in the pan all the while. If not the cornflour will form lumps. In case you still end up with lumps just blend the milk mixture in your blender before continuing to cook, but leave out the cream on the sides of the pan!
While the milk is cooling prepare the mulberry sauce.
Line a strainer with twice folded cheese cloth. Combine the water and berries and bring to boil. Simmer till the mulberris can be easily mashed. Strain through the cheese cloth and press out the juice. Gave me exactly a cup of juice. Now add 1/2 cup sugar and simmer on slow fire till dissolved and the sauce coats the back of the spoon. Cool completely. Keep a little sauce (About 2tbsps.) aside and fold the cream and the rest of the sauce into the cool milk mixture. It will form a thickish custard (not pudding like but like molten lava).
Pour into an air tight container and freeze for an hour. Remove and using an electric hand blender churn gently in the container itself. Freeze for another hour and repeat. Freeze overnight or for at least four hours.
Scoop and serve with a little sauce. You may chop a few mulberries and fold iti nto the ice cream before finally freezing.
I also folded a few broken pine nuts with the cream.
This recipe will not form icicles at all. Do not blend the cream into the milk while boiling. Wait till it comes to room temperature. For us the sweetness was just right.
Soy ice cream:
Soy Milk – 1 cup (I used organic Silk)
Soyvita powder – 3tbsps.
Corn flour – 1 tsp.
2tbsp. of mulberry sauce from above.
Silken firm mori-nu tofu – 2tbsp.
Dissolve cornflour into sauce and heat whisking continuously to get a smooth custard. Blend everything together in a blender till very smooth. Chop some of the fruit and freeze for an hour. Remove and blend with a hand blender and re-freeze. Repeat once and freeeze at least four hours before serving.
This tastes great but the colour does not look as good as the vegetarian version. It was a weird blue – not what can be called a color for the palette:)
Note: I won’t be able to visit you guys for sometime as work is keeping my on my toes and I am spending some time with myself to get fit for the Himalayan climb. This does not leave me much time to blog or blog hop!!
If you would like to make gujiyas/somasi this Holi, do have a look here at my unhealthy and healthy versions:). Gujiyas are a kind of Indian puff pastry traditionally made during Holi in the North. We grew up on this tradition so I am stuck on this one!!