Juicy stone fruit comes to town!

Saturday, 24 May 2014 - 6:30am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

My inspirations come from various things - my travel, my mood, the seasons, and what's fresh on the markets and streets in the city.

The first fresh lot of lychees have hit the market and on my usual way to work I spotted a cart with a whole mountain of this juicy, lovely fruit, which brings back memoirs of slurping down that sweet floral goodnes.

I use lychees in mad ways - combine them with miso paste and make a lychee miso glaze for lobsters or make an awesome quick sweet spicy chaat as well. It make a great kachumber with chillies, onions, tomatoes, coriander and a dash of lemon juice to it.

The lychee is the sole member of the genus Litchi in the soapberry family. It is a tropical and subtropical fruit tree native to provinces of China but now cultivated in other countries. Our best lychees come from Muzzafarpur, Palghat and Himachal pradesh.

The fresh fruit has a "delicate, white pulp" with a floral smell and a fragrant, sweet flavour.

China is the main producer, followed by India. In fact the BARC have found a way to preserve, protect and increase shelf life of the delicate fruit for export, which has pleased our growers. And this year the crop has been abundant and of good quality.

The lychee has a history and cultivation going back to 2000 BC. Legend has it that an Emperor of the Tang Dynasty lost his throne because his insisted on having fresh lychees delivered to his concubine on a regular basis - at great cost to the Chinese people.

A good suggestion is to buy a good lot and prepare this delicious Ginger Lychee syrup and drizzle it over some ice cream to combat this heat wave.

Ginger lychee syrup

500ml (2 cups) water
215g (1 cup) caster sugar
2 cm-piece fresh ginger, peeled, cut into thin matchsticks
500g lychees, peeled
Vanilla ice-cream, to serve

Stir the water and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the ginger, bring to the boil. Boil for 10 minutes or until the syrup thickens slightly. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly. Place the lychees in a bowl. Pour over the syrup.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until totally chilled. Serve with vanilla ice-cream.
And if you want to get a little more experimental, try the Rawas with Lychee salsa

Rawas, Lychee tomato salsa
180 g Rawas fillet
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olice oil
½ tsp roasted cumin powder

For the salsa
4 each lychees , peeled n diced
1 tbsp chopped onion
1 tbsp chopped tomato
1 tsp chopped chillies
½ tsp minced ginger
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the broth
2 each baby carrots
1 small head bok choy
1 cup chicken stock

Mix all the ingrdients for the salsa. Chill until needed.
Bring the stock to a gentle simmer and cook the baby carrots & bok choy for four minutes until al dente.
Season the rawas wih salt, pepper, lemon juice and cumin powder. Heat some olive oil in a pan and sear on both sides for three minutes. Serve the fish a top the broth and veggies. Spoon the lychee salsa and relish!

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