Summer is here and turning to fresh fruits in various forms, seems the most logical and healthy thing to do. Go for it, but add a twist. Instead of the usual milk shakes, lassi, smoothies, try fruits in a new avatar. Yes, experiment with fruits in savoury dishes and there’s a lot you can do.
Of course fruits naturally lend themselves to desserts, but one can be imaginative and use fruits to boost savoury dishes, soups, main course and accompaniments, across various cuisines.
Fruits are a flavour booster, yet, to achieve the right balance, is the key. Tropical fruits have always been used liberally in South Asian cuisines and fruits such as apricots, figs, dates, have been an integral part of Middle Eastern and African cuisine.
Our very own Indian cuisine can be enhanced with the use of fruits. Mango, the king of summer fruits, can add zest and flavour to dishes. Mango sasav or Ambyache sasav, a sweet-sour dish, prepared with ripe mangoes, is a favourite among the Maharashtrians and the Konkan belt. Sasav or mustard seeds, curry leaves, coconut, jaggery, are added as tempering to the ripe mango pulp, which is cooked. This is generally enjoyed with steamed rice.
Understanding the texture a fruit imparts, is important, as it can then be used accordingly. Apples, pineapple, pears, for instance, owing to their firmness, are ideal for stuffings in koftas, or in stuffed tomatoes and capsicums. Gravies and curries are yet, another form in which fruits are incorporated to give body to the preparation. For these, Pineapple and jackfruit are preferred.
Amrud ki sabzi or a dry preparation with guavas, is a North Indian delicacy and can be eaten with puris, instead of the usual potatoes. An interesting use of guavas is their addition to a mutton curry, in the form of a smooth paste.
In Kerala, Papaya appams called pappali appams made with rice flour, wheat flour, coconut paste, jaggery, are paired with spicy mutton or chicken curry.
Salads, soups and dips make use of a variety of summer fruits in global cuisines. Grilled watermelon n feta cheese makes for a refreshing salad in summer. A cold soup can be made using pineapple and orange juice, squeezed freshly from fruits. Cucumber, a dash of lime and a pinch of sugar complete this unique delicacy. A curried squash and pear soup is also a good option to cool oneself.
Regular dips and sauces are often pepped up with the addition of a fruit. Fresh mango salsa is a popular accompaniment. Plum sauce, again is a common favourite in meat dishes.
Interestingly, citrus fruits like lemon, lime, orange, are sought after, for flavouring seafood items. Used carefully, these can enhance the appeal of fish, prawn, crabs, squids, mussels and scallops, whereas the whole fruit is often added to a duck salad.
In mains too, a fruit like pomegranate can be cleverly combined with a roast chicken, as the fruit adds its typical juicy flavour and crunchy texture to the dish.
Chargrilled tofu with fresh fruits or Rojak( a fruit salad), with pieces of fried, sweet pineapple, green mango and papaya, rose apples and guava, tossed in a dark sauce. Sounds exotic? Pan Asian cuisine today stands for fusion and fruits are cleverly combined to balance the sweet, tangy and savoury flavours in dishes.
Pears, pineapples, pair well in pork dishes, complimenting the texture and flavour of the meat, while peaches are the perfect complement for chicken. Melon, citrus fruits (orange, grape fruit, sweet lime) and grapes are other commonly used fruits.
So, irrespective of the cuisine, one can give a dish, a ‘fruity’ twist, by making use of the right fruit, in the right form. Innovation is all that it takes.