Jamun goes hip as chefs and bakers use it to make compote, slush, liqour and more
It is time for the overpriced blueberry and unpredictable strawberry to take a step back, the humble jamun , also called the Java plum or Indian blackberry is all set to shine. The kala jamun, the star of the season, manages to dig up some food nostalgia and findits much-needed mention in bakes, dips and more.
As the ‘eat local’ campaign gathers momentum, Indian families have begun to look inwards, setting the atmosphere for food conversations around seasonal local produce. With work-from-home options being a new normal, families are taking the time to experiment with Indian seasonal delights. This could be what has put the jamun in the limelight. Discussions and social media post, especially on Facebook and Instagram, have paved the way for using the jamun in a salad, as a slush, a compote, a cake and pies.
Ashish Nayak (@fooddrifter) a food influencer says the sight of a basket full of jamuns led him to casually search jamun recipes. And when he found a jamun cake that looked no different from the unicorn cake, he was amped up to continue the search. Ashish says, “After having shifted to Singapore (he is currently in India for personal reasons) I missed Indian seasonal fruits and berries. So, when I saw a tokri full of neatly stacked jamuns, I just had to buy it. While snooping around on Instagram looking at jamun posts, I came across a jamun semolina by Amrita Kaur. The creativity and thought put into it were enough to make me continue to search for something that I could do in a basic kitchen. Thats when I came across a salad recipe by chef Radhika Khandelwal, whose choice of ingredients compliments the unique taste of jamun.”
Chef Radhika Khandewal (@pandoodle) of Fig and Maple in Delhi says she is a huge advocate of eat local, eat seasonal. When she decided to place the jamun salad on her menu, she carefully selected ingredients that would cut into the tannin of the fruit. Radhika says, “The strong astringent feel in our mouth after eating jamun prevents many people from experimenting with it inrecipes. As a child, I have only had jamun raita made at home or just the fruit with black salt. I decided to work more with jamun because I want people to understand the versatility of this Indian berry. I am also working on a jamun gin infusion and a jamun liquor.”
- 1/2 cup Blackberry pulp; 1 cup ice cubes; 2 tbsp sugar syrup; 1/2 tsp roasted cumin powder; salt to taste
- Combine all ingredients except salt in a blender. Blend until ice cubes are crushed but not completely puréed. Rim the glass with salt. Serve immediately.
For bakers, it is a win-win situation when their dishes are made with easily available ingredients and are presentable. The jamun’s eye-catching purple shade makes it a promising colouring and flavouring ingredient. That is why when Mumbai-based baker Pooja Ganeriwala (@loveandflourbypooja) announced a class on short bread recipe with jamun compote, the seats filled up quickly. Pooja, who conducts classes for eggless bakes, says, “Jamun as an Indian berry is a favourite with a lot of people. I decided to do a class on shortbreads with jamun compote because I wanted to show that we don’t need blueberries and raspberries all the time.”
While Chef Radhika says the most common and easiest way to make something different out of the fruit is to make a jam, Odisha-based recipe developer, Sai Harapriya (@mycookingcanvas) says her favourite use is to make a jamun slush or have it with curd. Sai Priya says, “The jamun slush is my favourite because of its colour and fragrance, plus it is extremely refreshing. While using jamun in curd, I prefer a slightly thick curd, like a Greek yogurt or hung curd. The humidity in Odisha sometimes makes me want to skip meals, that is when I prefer to have jamun curd.”
- 400 gms jamun; 1/2 cup sugar; 2 tbsp cornflour; 2 tsp lemon juice; ½ tsp black salt
- Remove the pits of the jamuns, put the flesh in a mixer and grind to a pulp. Transfer the pulp to a pan, add the sugar, and cook for 12-15 minutes while stirring continuously till it thickens. Dissolve the cornflour in a little water, add it to the cooked jamun and let it cook for another 5-8 mins more till you have a thick compote. Switch off the flame and transfer the compote to a clean glass jar and refrigerate.
- The compote can be used as a topping over cheesecakes, between cookies, on cakes, ice-cream, etc.
Sai Priya suggests jamun be mixed with sugar and left for four hours to easily destone it.