The flu season is on here. Almost everyone I know is dealing with a bout of a cold or cough or fever or all the three. Ever since we moved homes early January we have been literally on house arrest trying to recover from this not so serious but pesky illness. I am sure that the season has treated most of you the same way irrespective of where you live.
When I was going through my posts in draft I was reminded of three recipes that I had created last January and never got around to posting them. The husband had brought back some star fruit from Mangalore last year and I had divided the loot into 3 portions to be used in three different recipes. Here's the first one. A thick jam like preparation that is made from the juice of star fruits, dried herbs and a load of peppercorns to give you a kick of spice and heal you from within. Meant to soothe a bad throat, this preparation is medicinal and should be consumed in very little quantities. People with serious health issues and pregnant women may kindly refrain from consuming it.
During my growing up years in Mangalore I used to eat a ton of these lovely fruits. A bright green, firm and tart fruit when raw, turns into slightly soft, pale greenish yellow when it ripens. A cross section of the fruit reveals a star shape which is how the fruit gets its popular name. Carambola is native to many tropical countries including India although in Mangalore you may not find it in as much of an abundance as it used to grow a few decades ago. The star fruit tastes very good when sprinkled with a little salt and chilli powder but the best way to eat it is in its plain, unadulterated form.
This is not a very popular herbal jam recipe as very few people know to make it. My sister in law's mum-in-law Mrs. Jessie Castelino kindly shared her recipe with me. Thank you Aunty!
Karmbalache Thikshe Lehya ~ Spicy Star Fruit (Carambola) & Herb Infused Jam
Prep time: 15 mins | Cooking time: 45 mins | Yield: 9-10 tablespoons worth of jam-like mixture.
For the spice blend:
- 500 grams (4 big star fruits)
- 75 grams rock sugar/sugar candy
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1" piece of dry ginger (shoonti/saunth)
- 5 peppercorns
- 1/2" piece of licorice (root of the Glycyrrhiza Glabra)
- 1 long pepper (Piper Longum) see notes for local Indian names
1. Wash the star fruit well, trim the ends and roughly chop them up. Transfer to a mixer grinder, add 1/4 cup water and grind it. Strain the liquid into a bowl. Discard the roughage (kojanti)
2. Grind all the ingredients mentioned under 'For the spice blend
' to a fine powder. Mix this powder into the strained star fruit liquid/juice.
3. Place the mixture into a heavy based pan/kadai and cook it until it thickens (it could take anywhere between 30-45mins). Please have patience as the time taken for such medicines is a lot but it is worth in the end. Do not be tempted to cook the mixture on a high heat or you'll end up scorching it.
4. When the mixture thickens and reaches a jam like consistency (or that of very thick honey) remove the pan from the heat.
5. Using a clean spoon, fill a clean, sterilized jar with the prepared mixture. Cover the jar with the lid (this helps create a seal) and let the jar cool down completely for a few hours. When you remove the lid you will hear a 'pop' sound. This indicates that the canning process has been done properly.
6. This preparation is very beneficial during colds. Have a small portion (1/4tsp) to relieve a soar throat. Use a clean and dry spoon every time. If prepared hygienically it should last a couple of months. Refrigerate for a longer shelf life
1. Rock sugar is also known as koday sakker in Konkani, kallu sakkare in Kannada and mishri in Hindi
2. Licorice is also called as goday kasth in Konkani and mulethi/jethimadhu in Hindi
3. Long pepper (piper longum) is also called as Indian long pepper, 'Ipli' in Konkani and pipli in Hindi)
4. This recipe is for a small quantity, however you can make a bigger batch by doubling or tripling the recipe. Make sure you use a large, wide based vessel.