The fruit market is still flooded with stoned fruits like peaches, cherries and plums, giving me ample opportunity to cook with them. Living in the hot and humid zone of the country, my attempt is always at cooking simple dishes with my personal touch. If one checks on the recipes from my archives, would realise that most of them are fuss free and quick to make.
I mostly love eating my cherries or use them for garnishes but with the plums and peaches, I love to cook. Unlike North India, here, the plums we get are not the sweet kind and while creating recipes using the plums, I have to balance the sourness wisely with the sugar and spice, else they are too sour to eat.
As I have mentioned in my Smoked Cottage Cheese and Peas Curry my excitement about going for the IFBmeet in Bangalore and when I got to know recently that Kitchen Aid has thrown a cooking contest only for the participants of the IFBmeet, where we get a chance to win a Kitchen Aid Chopper, I was super excited. Who would not like to win a Kitchen Aid product, I sure do, fingers crossed!!
I’ve been eyeing the Kitchen Aid products for a long time and checked on their stand mixer when we visited Singapore as Kitchen Aid had not launched in India that time. But in the month of May this year, I had a chance to meet Chef Vikas Khanna who had to come to Food Hall, Bangalore for the launch of his new cookbook and also gave a demo of Kitchen Aid’s hand blender. The Kitchen Aid products are sturdy and I guess all food bloggers want them in their kitchen.
For the Kitchen Aid Contest we are supposed to cook using the Plums as the core ingredient. Reading Plums as the core ingredient made me excited and worried both together. Excited because I get to try the stone fruit in my recipes and worried because as I said earlier, the plums I get here are super sour in taste.
My mind kept running towards the dessert first but then making the sour plums sweet means adding loads of sugar to balance the flavour and looking at my waist line I chunked the idea . The sour word kept haunting me for half a day and then I thought why not use the sourness to my benefit and the thought of making a ‘saar’ came to my mind.
‘Saar’/ सार is a traditional preparation from Maharashtrian Cuisine. It is a thin, sweet, spicy and tangy soup like preparation which is served with ‘Masale bhaath’ or a spicy rice preparation. Though, it is served with spicy rice but it can be also had as a soup. It is usually made using tomato, Kokam/mangosteen, raw mango and tamarind which are naturally sour in taste. To balance the sourness, jaggery/sugar is added. It is nicely spiced and flavoured with ginger, green chilies, garlic. Once boiled, it is tempered with curry leaves and asafoetida.
The ‘saar’ is a very simple preparation and the skill lies in getting the correct balance of sour, sweet and spice. I was some how confident that I would be able to balance the flavour and also knew if I nail that balance perfectly it would turn out to be a wonderful dish, my only worry was that the saar might curdle on boiling as there’s coconut milk in it, but a few kitchen tricks that I’ve learnt from my granny came to my rescue there.
I kept tasting during the entire process, to get the right balance of flavours (something I have learnt from Master Chef Australia) as I was trying something new and once I tempered the ‘saar’, I gave it to my parents for tasting, who are visiting me currently. Both of them said instantly ‘khoopach chhaan’ which means ‘very nice’ in Marathi.
So here’s one simple preparation made using the plum, where the flavour of plum shines in the preparation. It is just perfect to sip enjoying the rains. I made a small portion of the preparation as I was experimenting but now with it’s success will make a larger portion soon.
Since the soup is gluten free, I’m also sending it to my event ‘ONLY’ Gluten Free cooking, hosted here through this month.
Maharashtrian Style Plum & Coconut Soup
Preparation Time:15-20mins | Cooking Time:5mins | Serves:2-3 | Difficulty Level: Easy
small piece beetroot*
100ml coconut milk
1big green chili (spicy)
1inch piece ginger
3-4 garlic cloves
1tbsp coriander stem chopped
3-4tsp sugar (adjust as per taste)
salt to taste
1-2tbsp rice flour mixed in 1/4cup water**
1/2tsp mustard seeds
1/2tsp cumin seeds
6-7 curry leaves
a pinch of strong asafoetida/heeng
Wash the plums and beetroot. Peel the beetroot and cut a small piece. Cut the plums into halves and wriggle both halves to remove the seed. If one finds that difficult, chop the plums.
In a microwave safe dish place the plums and beetroot along with a cup of water. Cook on microwave high for 4-5 minutes. Stir once in between.
Remove the dish and place it under the fan to cool faster.
Take the cooked plum mix, ginger, garlic, green chilies, coriander stem, cumin seeds in a mixer grinder and grind it to a smooth paste. If required add water.
The ground paste can be directly used but I like my saar/soup to have a smooth texture for which I passed the paste through a fine sieve.
Mix the paste now with coconut milk and about 1/2 - 3/4cup of water. Also add the rice flour paste.
Bring the contents to a boil and stir continuously. Once the saar boils, simmer and add salt & sugar*** to taste.
Make the tempering and add it to the ‘saar’ and cover immediately with a lid so that all the flavours from the tempering get trapped.
Serve hot. We had the ‘saar’ like a soup.
* Addition of beetroot is optional but it adds a nice colour to the ‘saar’ and also it’s very healthy to eat so I prefer using it.
** The coconut milk can curdle on boiling so to avoid that risk, my granny used to put rice flour which provided the required binding to the ‘saar’ without meddling with the flavours.
*** The plums I used were sour so that helped me but in case the plums are sweet then do not add extra sugar and add either tamarind juice or kokam to balance the sour flavour.