Ice Ice Baby

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In the summertime, when the weather is mean and temperatures are soaring high and the wind is low… goes the old American pop song Ice Ice Baby . It seems to be tailor-made for India’s climate. As for Delhi, it’s not just during summers that temperatures are high; the monsoon is uncomfortably muggy, and once that is over, we’ll be into the inbetween season, when the sun is so hot it could shrivel the skin of the proverbial rhinoceros.

As the heat seems to send whiffs of steam off the top of our heads, it’s nice to cool off with cold foods, straight from the freezer. The ice lolly vendors do brisk business. As do the vendors of the desi baraf ka gola . It won’t be long now before schools open. And no matter how much you warn children, they can’t be stopped from succumbing to the temptation posed by itinerant fast food vendors.

Kids just love those attractively coloured balls of sweet ice, and mothers are on tenterhooks because you never know what kind of water has been used to make the ice. In fact, any of us who is health-conscious worry what germs could be wreaking havoc with our systems even as the coolness drizzles lusciously down our throats. You might call sorbet an upmarket cousin of the baraf ka gola . It is a frozen dessert made of ice and fruit juices or fruit puree and other ingredients. The word is derived from the Turkish sarbat, which in turn comes from Arabic.

One of the stories of sorbet inventions gives credit to Marcopolo, who brought a recipe for a sorbet- like dessert on his way back to Italy from China in the late 13th century. Another story holds that Roman emperor Nero invented sorbet during the 1st century when he had runners along the Appian way pass buckets of snow hand over hand from the mountains to his banquet hall where it was then mixed with honey and wine.

Frozen desserts are believed to have been brought to France in 1533 by Catherine de’ Medici when she left Italy to marry the Duke of Orleans, who later became Henry 11 of France. By 17th century-end, sorbet was served on the streets of Paris, and spread to England and the rest of Europe. In French cuisine, sorbets are consumed between the starters and the entrees, as they serve to cleanse the palate. Sorbet is a non-fat and vegan alternative to ice cream. It is completely healthy, with absolutely no artificial ingredients.

The two sorbets use the fruits of the season: watermelon and pomegranate.

Watermelon has a high water content and no calories at all. When churned in a blender and strained, with a dash of black salt, it becomes a great summer cooler. Pomegranate, traditionally, is considered even more valuable as a medicine than as a fruit. Containing reasonable amounts of potassium, phosphorus, sulphur, vitamin C, fibre, with all good alkaline effects, it has digestive properties too and according to ancient Indian medicine is good for five ailments. So let’s experiment with some cool sorbets. They take only 10 minutes each to prepare.

First chef from India to be invited to Le cordon Bleu to demonstrate in Paris. Monish is credited with the trailblazing turn-around of Moti Mahal, from being a small but iconic presence in Delhi, to becoming a multi-national corporation that is well on its way to defining how the world eats Indian food. A traditionalist, Monish has remained true to the signature dishes that made Moti Mahal a legend, while reinventing the dining experience into one that is exciting and avant garde to suit modern sensibilities.

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