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Envi ene bon ti salade melanz? While the average Mauritian is not a huge fruit eater, he/she will hardly ever say no to a freshly prepared fruit salad topped with tamarind sauce and disel pima/ chili salt. A colourful meli-melo of tropical fruits including mangoes and pineapple, our traditional fruit salad is not a homemade entity but derives its popularity from the road side sellers who usually extend their fares to markets and beaches on Sundays and holidays.
It will not be an uncommon sight if you come across one today on our crowded public beaches, which are always so on the eve and the day of a public holiday. And as we are celebrating our Independence Day today, there is, I’m sure, no better occasion to do a post on something we can proudly call as our ‘national’ salad. As the official celebrations unfold this afternoon in Champ de Mars in the attendance of eminent personalities, many will undoubtedly gather in more informal surroundings with the same feeling of being fier d’etre mauricien/ proud to be a Mauritian.
MAURITIAN FRUIT SALAD
2 semi ripe mangoes
1 medium pineapple
1 small cucumber
10 jamalacs/ love apples
1 carambole/ star fruit
2-3 dried red chilies
1 teaspoon kitchen salt
3 tablespoons tamarind
1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Peel mangoes, pineapple and cucumber. Cut each fruit into bite size pieces or chop into thick slices.
- Cut the jamalacs into halves and slice the carambole thinly. Place all chopped fruit in a large bowl.
- Crush the dried chilies and salt together in a grinder or in a mortar until it turns into a fine powder.
- Remove any seeds from the tamarind and soak the pulp in 2 tablespoons warm water for 5 minutes.
- Combine the tamarind pulp with 1 tablespoon of chili powder. Add more water and grind together.
- It should form a sauce of slow dripping consistency. Toss this dressing over the bowl of fruit salad.
- Mix till well combined and leave to stand at room temperature for at least one hour before serving.
- Top with extra tamarind and serve in plastic cups along with extra salt and chili powder. Serves 4.
Mauritian Fruit Salad
While you can make use of your good, old coffee machine to brew fresh granules for this sensational summer drink, I tried to adapt it for those who do not have or cannot be bothered with filtered coffee. For those purists who swear by the genuine stuff, go straight to the unaltered recipe on Epicurious.com. Those who are not so squeamish over instant coffee, grab your jar of regular Nescafe and start by making the coffee jelly which is the magic ingredient in this drink. I would suggest that you go for a stronger dose than you are used to as the freezing process will, to some extent, numb the intensity of the coffee flavour that comes through. Chill for a couple of hours, then stretch yourself under a beach umbrella and sip lazily through a bubble straw [ideally with a view on the beach] on a scorching summer day.
FROZEN ICED COFFEE + COFFEE JELLY
For the Coffee Jelly
1 tablespoon agar agar
4 teaspoons instant coffee
2 tablespoons caster sugar
2 cups cold water
For the Whipped Cream
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Frozen Iced Coffee
1 tablespoon instant coffee
1 1/2 cups cold whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Dissolve agar agar in 3 tablespoons cool water in a small bowl. Let stand till bloomed, about 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile combine cold coffee and sugar in a large container. Gently stir agar agar mixture into coffee.
- Do not stir too vigorously else air bubbles will appear. Chill the mixture until it is firm for about 2 hours.
- Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed or whisk, whip cream in a large bowl till soft peaks form.
- Add sugar and vanilla and whip to medium peaks. Chill whipped cream while preparing the iced coffee.
- For the iced coffee, blend coffee, cocoa, milk, syrup, vanilla, and 3 cups ice into a blender until smooth.
- To assemble, cut coffee jelly into 3/4″ cubes and fill serving glasses with 1/2 cup cubed coffee jelly each.
- Spoon 3 tablespoons of whipped cream over each and spread it around to create a solid layer of cream.
- Divide frozen iced coffee (about 1 cup each) among glasses and carefully pour on top of the cream layer.
- Top glasses with more whipped cream and serve immediately with bubble tea straws. Makes 4 servings.
Frozen Iced Coffee
After the bleak and rainy weekend, we finally get to enjoy a tiny bit of sunshine this afternoon. I have been saving this deliciously creamy milkshake recipe for a stifling hot summer day but today I could wait no more. Taken from The View from Great Island, this shake has a thick yet smooth texture with toasted almonds and almond paste coarsely blitzed into the final brew. I think I pulsed the almond mixture slightly more than I should have but then it gives me a pretty good excuse to make this milkshake all over again, with a swirl of whipped cream on top along with some toasted almond flakes.
TOASTED ALMOND MILKSHAKE
4 scoops vanilla ice cream
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup full cream liquid milk
1/4 cup raw sliced almonds
30g almond paste or marzipan
- To make toasted almond mix, toast almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat for several minutes.
- Stir constantly until they turn fragrant and golden. Set aside to cool. Cut almond paste into chunks.
- Put almond paste in a food processor along with cooled almonds and pulse until coarsely chopped.
- Put ice cream and 4 tablespoons of the toasted almond mix in a blender along with almond extract.
- Add just enough milk to loosen it up. Blend till all ingredients are homogenous mixed for a minute.
- Pour into tall glasses and top with more toasted almond mix and serve right away. Makes 2 servings.
Toasted Almond Milkshake