Markets abound with the goodness of seasonal fruits such as strawberries, guavas, passion fruits, pomegranates, papayas, pineapples and more. While nutritional experts praise their health benefits, chefs in the city tell Deepali Dhingra that incorporating them in the main course is a great way to maximise their nutritional content
The sun outside is blinding. I shield my eyes, and look for the entry into Crawford Market. It’s a regular weekday, and the market is bustling with life. The moment I’m inside, there’s an assault of another kind, which I welcome.
The markets overflow with seasonal fruits such as oranges, strawberries, pomegranates and more. Pics/Deepali Dhingra
Before me are piles of bright, red strawberries, bunches of juicy black and green grapes, ruby-red piles of pomegranates, not to forget a variety of other fruits such as chikoo, oranges, malta, passion fruit, guava, melons and pears and. It’s as if I’ve died and gone to fruit heaven. Uttam Umaji Wagh, a vendor who has been selling fruits at Crawford Market for nearly 40 years, recognises the look on my face and proceeds to tell me about the benefits of consuming seasonal fruits. “This is the best season to consume fruits, because there is such a huge variety of them available at this time,” he says, coaxing me into buying half a kilo of hanumanphal, a bigger version of the humble sitaphal.
High on fruits
Wagh is right when he speaks about the plethora of fruits. One look at the display in front of me and I’m convinced. Mumbai might not have a winter to boast of, but when it comes to fruits, there is enough to excite a fruit-lover. And it’s not just the wonderful variety that is exciting, but also the fact that seasonal fruits are your best bet when it comes to health benefits.
Thanks to advancement in technologies and methods of food processing, most fruits are available all through the year. But studies conducted across the world suggest that fruits and vegetables picked in season are higher in nutrition value than those that have a longer shelf life, which use abundant amount of chemicals and other methods of food preservation. Says fitness professional Neeraj Mehta, Director and Technical head of GFFI Fitness Academy, Andheri, “Fruits that have been imported lack in nutritional value, as they have been preserved for a long time, before they reach us. On the other hand, fruits which reach us within a few days of getting plucked, have a higher content of vitamins and minerals.” Mehta says they often suggest colour therapy to their clients, which includes helpings of three-four fruits and threefour vegetables of different colours. “But they have to be in season,” he adds.
So what’s the best way to incorporate fruits in your diet? A big, bowl of crunchy fruit salad is probably the first thing that comes to mind, no doubt. One can even prepare soups and desserts using fruits. But when it comes to cooking with fruits as main course, most people either don’t know how to do it, or are too sceptical about striking the right balance of sweet and sour.
Chef Joshua D’Souza, Silverspoon Gourmet, Lower Parel, says he often uses fruits such as pineapple, strawberries, passion fruit and guavas to come up with delicious recipes for main course. “Fruits give an interesting flavour to food, but when they are cooked, they tend to become sweeter. So one should pair them with chicken or fish, using different varieties of vinegars, peppers and chillies,” he says. While there is no limit to experimenting with fruit pairings, D’Souza suggests pairing vegetarian dishes with grapes, chicken with pineapple or strawberries, while passion fruit goes well with fish.
Homemaker Purabi Naha, who runs the blog cosmopolitancurrymania. com, says her entire family loves to eat dishes with fruits in them. “It’s the best way to incorporate fruits in your diet, especially if you have kids. When you use fruits in desserts, one often ends up using a lot of sugar, but using them in the main course ensures that you get the goodness of the fruit, without overloading yourself with the added calories,” she adds.
Orange Chicken Curry
>> 450 gm chicken legs
>> 1 tsp ginger paste
>> 1 tsp garlic paste
>> ½ tsp white vinegar
>> 1 tsp hoisin sauce
>> ½ tsp salt
>> 1 one-inch cinnamon stick
>> 1 tsp fennel seeds
>> 6 peppercorns
>> 6 green cardamoms
>> 1 star anise
>> 1 green chilli
>> 2 tbsp water
>> ½ tsp orange zest
>> ½ tsp chickpea flour (besan)
>> Juice of 3 oranges (with pulp)
>> 2 tbsp oil
>> ¼ cup finely chopped onion
>> A pinch of turmeric powder
>> 1 tsp cream
>> Roast and grind the cinnamon, fennel seeds, green cardamoms and star anise. Add the water, orange zest, green chilli, chickpea flour and the turmeric to the powder and make a fine paste
>> Mix this paste with the ginger-garlic, salt, white vinegar and Hoisin sauce. Apply this marinade evenly to the chicken and marinate for 15 minutes. now add 1/4th of the orange juice and marinate again for 10 minutes
>> Heat oil. Add the onions and sauté till translucent. Add the chicken along with the marinade and cook for 20 minutes on medium flame. Add the rest of the orange juice and cook covered for another 10 minutes.
Recipe by Purabi Naha
Fresh Guava Glazed Cottage Cheese Steaks
>> 4 cottage cheese steaks
>> 34 gm all-purpose flour
>> 6 gm salt
>> 3 gm ground black pepper
>> 36 gm vegetable oil
>> 60 ml triple sec
>> 1 garlic clove, minced
>> 6 gm fresh ginger, grated
>> 60 gm unsalted butter
>> 1/2 cup fresh guava, seeded and julienned (about 2 large guavas)
>> Season flour to preference and lightly dredge cottage cheese steaks
>> Heat oil on medium heat in a large skillet. Fry cheese steaks until golden brown on both sides. When nearly cooked, drain oil from the pan and deglaze pan with triple sec. The sugar in the triple sec will thicken and glaze the cottage cheese
>> Turn heat down and add minced garlic, ginger and guava pieces. Cook until you can smell the garlic and ginger. Move cottage cheese steaks to the side of the pan and add butter, one tablespoon at a time until melted baste cheese with gravy
>> Remove cottage cheese on a platter and pour guava sauce over each steak. Garnish with guava pieces.
Recipe by Chef Joshua D’Souza
Seasonal fruits and their benefits
Strawberries: Full of biotin and ellagic acid (antioxidant), strawberries promote healthy skin, hair and nails. It is rich in Vitamin K, Potassium and Magnesium that are important for strong bones.
Passion Fruit: It has a good amount of Vitamin C and Vitamin A that promotes good eyesight. Potassium promotes healthy heart and maintains blood pressure.
Pomegranate: Vitamin C helps maintain healthy and wrinkle-free skin. It has antioxidants and polyphenols that curb the spread of cancer cells in the body.
Grapes: Grapes are a good laxative as they are high in insoluble fibre, which tone-up your intestinal muscles and stomach. It helps to increase the body’s energy by balancing iron and other minerals.
Figs/anjeer: Figs are good in lutein, tannins and carotenes, which are considered powerful antioxidants and promote overall health and immunity.
(By fitness professional Neeraj Mehta)