I wrote this article for Beyond Curries in 2010, a website we could not continue anymore. I am reproducing it here in order to keep all my writings in one place.
Summer brings with it many beautiful things if one looks beyond the terrible heat waves. One thing I really love is the fruits we get during this season. Strawberries, pears, mangoes, bananas, apples, chickoos, grapes and so many more. Strawberries come from cooler places like Mahabaleshwar, a hill station close to Mumbai, grapes come from neighbouring Nashik and mangoes from different regions of Maharashtra. Spring fruits come to us all the way from Himachal and Kashmir but remain fresh thanks to better storage facilities. All this variety is thanks to the Sub-continent’s tropical climate and geographical location.
Fruits being rich in water, minerals and vitamins as well as trace elements provide the right balance during Summer months. I use hapoos or alphonso variety of mangoes as these local delights from Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg regions of Maharashtra are considered the best variety and are available in plenty though a tad more expensive than other varieties, some of which are as good. Substitute any variety that is best available to you. I use chaat masala pounded by my local ‘Pandit Bhel Puri Waalah’ as he makes the best blend I have had till date. Use this recipe from the ‘Indian Food Forever’ site to make your own chaat masala blend at home as it comes pretty close to what I used to make.
Recipe: Tropical Summer Fruit Salad ~ Fruit Chaat
Preparation Time : 10 mins
Serves : 3-4
1 cup Ripe firm mango (I used hapoos/alphonso), diced into cubes
1 cup Apple, diced
1 Banana (I use elaichi kela, a local variety), sliced thick
1/2 Kiwi fruit (optional), diced
1/2 cup green grapes, chopped and de-seeded
1/4 cup red wine grapes, halved and de-seeded
1/2 cup chickoo, diced
Juice of 1/2 a Lemon (optional)
3-4 strawberries, chopped
A generous sprinkling of dried Mint leaves (optional but it adds a kick)
Chaat masala sprinkled as per taste (About 1/8 tsp.)
Black salt/pink salt /kaala namak – 2 pinches to taste
Mix the fruits together with the rest of the ingredients
Add lemon juice if you like (I do not like the tang so omit it.)
Include local fruits as per availability.
Musk melon works but water melon dilutes the taste of other fruits.
If adding orange, reduce or omit lime juice.
Add oregano or thyme instead of chaat masala.