Before I started blogging, there were certain dishes/ recipes which were never on my ‘to do’ or ‘to try’ list. Not because they were not to my liking or I found them intimidating but simply because I always considered them belonging to either my Mom’s or my Mom-in-laws arena coz I believed that they made them the best!
Pickles (though I do make a few of them), relishes, chutneys/ chatni, preserves were something I always associated with either moms or grannies. Actually these dishes need not just skill but also experience, which of course is passed on from generation to generation, and perhaps that is why we all love our granny’s or our mother’s or mother-in-law’s pickles, preserves et al.
My mother-in-law was visiting me a few weeks back and knowing that I am blogging on food, she encouraged me to try my hand on a preserve. She suggested gooseberry of all the things! I remembered eating them as a kid and also that I used to abhor the store bought ones (since my mother never made them at home). They used to be ultra sweet…almost diabetes inducing! But this recipe by my mother-in-law is to die for – not overly sweet, slightly sour, a hint of cumin, goldenish, syrupy…yummm…
I wasn’t too excited with the prospect and somewhat reluctantly settled to the idea of me making a preserve. Actually she did offer to make it but I felt that I should try it on my own coz this way I would be able to understand the process better and also understand any mistakes that I might make. For some reason she had to leave early so she gave me instructions over the phone and I successfully made the preserve (though I did make a little mistake but she helped me rectify it) J
Here is what goes into this preserve
1 kg Indian gooseberry (amla) – (You need to buy bigger sized amla for the murabba)
1 kg+250 gms sugar (you can adjust the amount upto 1 kg + 500 grams)
½ tsp alum powder (फिटकरी)
1 tsp Kala Namak (Black Rock Salt)
½ tsp Cumin seeds (Jeera)
2 pinch citric acid granules or Juice of one lemon
Wash and soak the amla in enough water for 24 hours.
Drain water and wash again.
Prick the amla all over with a fork and submerge them in enough water (which covers the amla) and add alum powder to it.
Let them soak for 24 hours.
Wash the gooseberries well again (4 – 5 times) to get rid of alum.
Boil water in a wide-mouthed pot (non corrosive, preferably steel pot) and add the gooseberries.
Cook them for two minutes. Switch off heat and allow to rest in water for 5 – 7 minutes.
Remove the amla from the water and throw the water.
There are two alternatives here that you can follow.
FIRST ALTERNATIVE – You can transfer the amla back to the same pot and dust the sugar all over it. Keep it aside for 4 – 5 hours or till the sugar dissolves and the amla releases the water. Cook the amla in the same pot along with coarsely crushed cumin, over low heat, stirring all the while till the sugar completely dissolves and syrup becomes thick. You can check the thickness of the syrup by taking a drop on a plate and then taking it between your thumb and index finger. The syrupy drop should make thread when you bring together and release your thumb and finger gently. When the amla begins to turn cool, add lemon juice and kala namak. Check the preserve after two to three days. Stir the contents well (since amla will release water) and if the syrup has become thin in consistency, you need to cook it again till the syrup thickens, else the preserve won’t survive for long. The syrup needs to be thick to help preserve the amla for long duration and prevent it from spoiling. (the consistency should be almost like honey – not too thick, not too thin). Store the preserve in a sterilized glass container. – I prefer this method.
OTHER ALTERNATIVE – Dry the gooseberries for 2 – 3 hours on a clean towel. In a large pot take half a cup of water and add sugar. (Start this process only after you have dried the gooseberries) Keep stirring all the while. Add coarsely crushed cumin and amla. Once the sugar completely dissolves, allow the contents to simmer on a low heat. Stir once in a while. The gooseberries will release water. Cook till the syrup begins to thicken. You can check the thickness of the syrup by taking a drop on a plate and then taking it between your thumb and index finger. The syrupy drop should make thread when you bring together and release your thumb and finger gently.
Add the salt, citric acid or lemon juice when the syrup begins to turn cool. Check the preserve after two to three days. Stir the contents well and if the syrup has become thin in consistency, you need to cook it again till the syrup thickens, else the preserve won’t survive for long. The syrup needs to be thick to help preserve the amla for long duration and prevent it from spoiling. (the consistency should be almost like honey – not too thick, not too thin). Store the preserve in a sterilized glass container.
This preserve makes a very healthy sweet ending to meals. It is rich in iron and vitamin C, aids in digestion and balances the stomach acids besides keeping the body cool in summers…need I say more J
Note – Feel free to swap cumin with half a teaspoon of crushed green cardamom seeds.
Yield – 1 kilo of Amla yielded 19 to 20 pieces of Amlas
To know more about the nutritional value of gooseberry (amla) check here
Thanks for visiting and see you again!