Bael (Pathhar bael) ka sherbet – Woodapple / Stoneapple sherbet – An Indian coolant | A Summer recipe

When my father was stationed in Barreilly Cantonment the Government bungalow we resided in was huge, with a sprawling lawn in the front flanked with mango and jamun trees on two sides, and with trimmed hedges along the driveway upto the main gate.  To one side of the house was a garage, an outhouse and sheds.  We had a cow, Meena and her two babies, Premi and Lakshmi in the cow shed. There were large open fields in the backyard that my father later planted wheat and rice on.  I have been lucky in terms of having had a very rare kind of home schooling that exposed me to a large variety of native fruits, grains, simple and rustic lifestyle, regional birds and animals in large and small towns and cities during my father’s tenure in the Government.  The priceless nuggets of information received first hand from people who had spent their lives in those regions, and who fed us with folk lores have kept my imagination alive even at forty!

It was in Barreilly when I was five that I first saw a bael fruit. It was large, almost round and hard as a stone, and that is why it is also called ‘pathhar bael’ or ‘stone apple’.  The outer covering of the bael fruit is tough and woody.  When I spoke to my mother this morning she said it wasn’t exactly ‘large’ unless a fully grown apple is considered large. I am not very sure about the size of the ‘large’ bael I had held as a child. Did the bael seem large then because I was five? The gardener told my mother about the many benefits of bael that was in abundant supply during Summer.  It is ages since I had set my eyes on the fruit.  Chance led me to search and we found many thanks to a kind friend.  G says he did not know it was edible and it was one fruit no one ever plucked from the bilva tree in front of his Society.  Compared to the North Indian variety the ones G found are smaller, more ovoid, and rounded at the bottom – in fact, a slightly larger version of a pear!When I spoke about the bael fruit to my friends at work, it surprised me that no one knew about this rather exotic looking fruit.  I once again silently thanked my parents for the many blessings I grew up with.

Bael | Bilva | Kavath | Vilam Pazham | Hannu Pandu | Beel | Woodapple | Stone apple | tongueticklers.com

Bael, known as maredupandu in Telugu, vilvam in Tamil and as Patthar bael in some parts of North India, is a fruit of the ‘bilva’ tree.  The bilva tree itself is very  famous as every part of the tree offers medical solutions to common ailments.  The roots and leaves of the bilva tree are used for treating skin infections, cuts and digestive problems.  The fruit is considered an effective treatment for heat or sun strokes.  In mythology bilva is often referred to as Lord Shiva’s favourite  tree and the fruit as well as leaves are offered to the Lord with prayers.  During Mahashivratri the markets are flooded with the leaves and fruits of bilva.

The hard covering of ripe bael fruits bear shades of pale green with yellow, brown or light orange hi-lights, and are speckled all over lightly in brown.  If you saw along the center of the fruit to halve, the seeds form a pattern similar to that of an apple but the pulp is extremely fibrous and the seeds are tangled in them.   The area around the seeds and the seeds themselves are gummy.  I used a stone pestle to lightly bash the fruit along the center, turning it all around, and pulled the halves apart as evenly as fate would allow.  The perfume that emanates from the fruit is the same as the flowers carry and it is both unique and subtle.  The pulp inside can be easily scooped if ripe.  It is best to use a spoon.  The pulp can be separated from the seeds and eaten as such.  The juice is not as sweet and is usually compensated with sugar.  I prefer jaggery.  There is a typical South Indian and North Indian version to the juice.  Today I used the North Indian method.  The amount of sweetener varies according to taste and I like just a hint.  Add more if you think it is necessary after tasting.

 

Bael ka sherbet | Woodapple juice | tongueticklers.com

Recipe: Bael (Pathhar bael) ka sherbet | Woodapple / Stoneapple Sherbet | An Indian Coolant | A Summer recipe
Yield – 2 glasses
Diet: Vegan | Paleo | Gluten and Dairy-free
Health benefits: A rustic cure for heat and sun strokes

Ingredients:
Medium sized bael / woodapple – 2
Powdered jaggery – 2 tablespoons
Powdered black or pink salt – 1/8 teaspoon or to taste
Roasted and powdered cumin seeds / jeera – 1 teaspoon
Water – 1 to 2 glasses

Method:

Break open the fruit using a pestle or if you are adventurous, strike it against the floor or a platform till it splits open.

Using a spoon scoop the pulp and place in a large bowl. Pour a glass of water and using your palms gather and squish the pulp to separate the seeds and juice the pulp.

Press the juice through a soup siever to strain the fibres and seeds from the thick pulp. Scoop the pulp remaining in the sieve into a vessel and add more water. Repeat the squishing process and strain till all that remains is the fiber.

Add jaggery to the strained juice and season with salt and cumin powders as per taste. Run the juice in a mixer. Pour in tall glasses and serve.

Woodapple Sherbet | tongueticklers.com

Note:

More than taste, this recipe is about using the bael fruit for the health benefits it offers. This juice is not something you might find on a mocktail menu. Maybe if I owned a juice bar one fine you will find it listed. I am sure you must be familiar with bael or beel sherbet if you have roamed along the streets in Delhi on a hot Summer day. If you have seen it but never had it before, you must try it once.

Sugar instead of jaggery is considered the tastier option, but like I said, this is about health. Maybe you would like to have this on Mahashivaratri next time.

Like many stories that surround fruits in India, the bael fruit has one associated with it too. My mother informs me that elephants are said to have the unique capability of consuming the pulp and throwing out (expelling) the kaitha fruit as a whole! What do you think of that?!

_______________________________

[Soon after the post was published I received a lot of feedback.  S, a friend, corrected me as bael is not the same as kavath in Marathi.  She said the two were different fruits.  Another friend in one of my fb groups suggested checking the names used.  So I checked.  And this is what I gathered (mostly from wiki).  The English names are confusing as both varieties are known as wood apple as well.

The fruit I used (Bael) is described below, and is known in various languages thus:

Bengal quince, stone apple or wood apple, bilva or bilvapatre in Kannada, bael or sirphal in Hindi, beel in Punjabi, bael or kaveeth in Marathi, maredu in Telugu, vilvam in Tamil (while the plant is called koovilam)

"Bael [Aegle marmelos] is the only member of the monotypic genus Aegle.

It is a mid-sized, slender, aromatic, armed, gum-bearing tree. It has a leaf with three leaflets (trifoliate).  This is why I am sure I used bael.

The bael fruit has a smooth, woody shell with a green, gray, or yellow peel. It can reach the size of a large grapefruit or pomelo, and some are even larger. The shell is so hard it must be cracked with a hammer or machete. The fibrous yellow pulp is very aromatic. It has been described as tasting of marmalade and smelling of roses. Numerous hairy seeds are encapsulated in a slimy mucilage.”  [Information courtesy - Wikipedia]

The other fruit is kaitha, kath bel or kabeet, in Hindi and is the Limonia acidissima.   

It is known in English as wood-apple, elephant-apple, monkey fruit, and curd fruit, belada hannu in Kannada, vilam kai in Malayalam, kavath in Marathi, vilam pazham in Tamil and vellaga pandu in Telugu.  The link lists other regional names as well.

The leaves are pinnate, with 5-7 leaves and these are bigger than the leaves of the bael tree.

The fruit is a berry 5–9 cm diameter, and may be sweet or sour. It has a very hard rind which can be difficult to crack open, and contains sticky brown pulp and small white seeds.

The gum produced by the bark of the kaitha tree is used for many purposes.  The fruit is more gummy than bael.  The fruit is similar to the bael fruit but has even harder cover (that can be carved and used as a vessel), and the pulp is brown in colour.  The seeds are more gummy than the bael fruit.  The raw fruit of kaitha is used to make chutney and raita.  The ripe fruit can be used in the same ways as the bael fruit. The raw pulp is bitter, while the ripe fruit is sweet-sour.” [Information Courtesy - Wikipedia]

I have not altered the original post except for replacing ‘vilam pazham’ with ‘vilvam’.  From what I understand the names do not make any difference to the recipe.  The fruits – bael and kaitha – can be used in this recipe interchangeably.]

Print Friendly

Comments

Have your say

  1. I want to be an elephant! But really bael is an acquired taste. When in blr. I had once tried bel Phal nectar with sugar. In Thal we have abundance of bel Phal but not too many users. The leaves are in demand every Monday as our people offer a bel patra on the village Shiv linga. Must try this again with jaggery.

  2. Hi Tongue Ticklers! went through your recipe of Bel Sherbet and i want to make this for this summer as well as to preserve it too.can you suggest how i should make the preserved sherbet? Secondly, i will be very much thankful to you if you will kindly send recipe of making BEL CANDY as i have a sweet tooth and want something sweet to eat after having lunch/dinner. hope to read something new from your side and get my problems solved. Thanks

    • Hi Rewa, We always express fresh fruit juices and I have never made concentrates till this day. But, I will try it someday soon when time permits. The candy is a new one, and a very good idea. I must try it and if I have a good version I will post it too. Thanks for your input. Can you please address me as Harini?

  3. Love reading your recipes… and your pictures are so tempting! I haven’t seen bael here in Gurgaon yet… hope to find some soon :-)
    hope its ok to share some on my facebook page – http://www.facebook.com/esvasaindia :-)

  4. Bel sharbat , takes me down the memory lane . Love the clicks , esp the styling of the rind !!!

  5. I’ve never had bael until a few years ago. It was so refreshing and now I’m craving for it :D

  6. Hi Harini. Love your blog posts and the amazing photographs. Very inspiring! I only recently discovered the wood apple and I do like making a juice with it especially during these steaming hot summer months. After trying a few different concoctions I settled on this personal favorite: strained bael juice (making sure it is ripe and sweet) with a bit of cinnamon, elaichi & vanilla powder and a squeeze of lemon. Yum!

  7. Looks lovely Harini. Specially love the first pic with the slight purple in the backdrop. Reminds me of hot summers and cool cool sherbets! I alwatys eat wood apple only once year in August for Vinayaka Chathurthi as its offered as part of the fruit neivedhyam. Then amma cracks open the shell and scoops out the pulp, mixes it with jaggery and a little salt and then scooped it back in to the shell allowed us to enjoy this preparation. Sweet, tart and yet a different taste! She never bought them a lot as she said they were fruits that gave you a cold!!! My pattu teacher would always never allow us to have them too! Such a lovely post nad it brought back loads of childhood memories.

    Shobha

    • Shoba, my periamma was telling me that her amma made a sweet chutney out of it. I suppose it must be similar to what your amma did. Probably bael is effective for the dry hot weather in the North which is very different from highly humid hot weather in TN. Thanks for sharing your memories and thoughts. I enjoyed reading them. :)

  8. Bael is more bitter than Kavath. Kavath tends to be more sour than Bael. But as you said it can used interchangeably for this sherbat.

    Grandma and mom used to make nice chutneys with Kavath and we all loved it. Grandma also made nice barfi with just sugar (or was it jaggery? I don’t remember). Eating it once a year in summer was mandatory, to beat the heat they said.

    Ah! Lovely memories.

  9. Hi Harini,
    You’ve not posted in a long time….I missed your writing. Is all well?
    R

    • Hi Radhika, I am a bit swamped with work this year. I will start posting as soon as things ease. I have a few photographs but I haven’t found the time to post yet. How have you been? Thanks for writing it. :)

  10. Did u get this in India or in US. If in US where can I get it?

  11. Hi Harini…This is an interesting post. Never had the chance to try this fruit. Amazing pics as always…

  12. Hi,
    I often use bail fruit and make sharbat too, its not only avoid sun stroke or heat but also helpful in acidity miraculously, n u can add different flavor to make mock-tail like lemon n black peeper and so on, it would really tasty after 2-3 times you have used. :)

  13. Have always loved having Bael ka sherbat in scorching Delhi summers. But on a recent trip to Sri Lanka, I came across wood-apple and woodapple juice. Ever since then, I am completely hooked onto them! But I have not been able to find them in Delhi. Nobody even knows about them. I am now on a hunt to find any wild wood apple trees growing around in the Delhi area.

    • Bael is available now, in Delhi, as it is a summer fruit. Try the fruit stalls in sabzi mandees like Okhla mandi, or tell me 9911675454

Thanks for reading. Receive free updates by email.


Frank speak corner! Something you would like to say?

*