I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but when I look out the window, I see brown. The foliage is dry and crisp and brown. Every now and then, there is a short dust storm that is still alarming no matter how many times you’ve experienced it. Summer in general is my least favourite time of the year but summer in Delhi is brutal. I've been wanting to say this for quite a while now, but I’ve held back for fear of being mauled- I miss winter. I miss wearing coats and woolly hats and warming my hands with cups of the yummiest hot chocolate. But I am okay announcing this in public today because now that we have hit (and whizzed past) 40 degrees celcius, I feel like people will be more receptive to this thought.
I like to keep things positive around here, and so, to make sure that this didn’t turn into an essay on my summer woes like I am inclined to, I turned to my family and friends for inspiration, and asked them what they liked best about this sweat fest (sorry!). It appears mangoes and ice-cream are the stars of this season. Not to be a total party pooper, but neither excites me very much.
However, over lunch this afternoon I realized that most of my favourite childhood memories have taken place on warm summer days. Fighting with family over mangosteen, picking rambutans and mulberries off the trees with my cousins and eating popsicles while lazing in a paddling pool- summertime and the livin’ was definitely easy. As far as popsicles are concerned, I think I hit the jackpot. My sister who lived with us for a while took it upon herself to make sure that not a day went by when our freezer was devoid of roohafza -flavoured popsicles. And she was an excellent popsicle maker too- none of those chunky ice pieces that you so often find in these things.
Another source of great popsicles was our neighbour and incidently one of mum's closest friends, Deepa aunty. This lovely lady also happens to have the greenest thumb in town: walking through her backyard is a little like touring a botanical garden in a different land, with unusual trees and flowers. There's even a cherry tree growing there right in the middle of her backyard. Did you know it was possible to grow cherries in Kerala? Cherry trees generally grow in temperate regions, but it appears that the tree growing in our neighbour's backyard is blissfully unaware of this fact. Come summer and the tree is studded with deep red cherries peaking out of the foliage, begging to be picked. When they are ripe enough, aunty lays a sheet on the ground under the tree and a firm shake or two later the ripe cherries fall to the sheet. While she puts these cherries to many uses, my favourite is when she makes popsicles with them. Tart, bursting with flavour and the most gorgeous red. Secretly, my pre-teen self also loved the way they turned my lips scarlet.
I guess my point is that as compensation for the terrible weather, nature gives you some pretty delicious fruit to distract you. Popsicles are a great way to turn those summer fruits into a heat buster. No matter how old you are, the heat is easier to face with a popsicle in hand. To give it a fun spin, I decided to try my hand at making tricolored popsicles and to my delight, they came out gorgeous. I used grapes, oranges and (canned) lychees for the first batch. Feel free to experiment with your choice of fruits. As there is a wide variety of fruit available at the moment, there really is no shortage of inspiration. If you decide to use oranges, remember that orange juice gets a slight bitterness over time. If you'd like to avoid this, use bottled orange juice (Tropicana or even Tang would do).
1 cup grape juice (deseeded)
1 cup orange juice (deseeded)
1 cup lychee juice (I pureed a couple of lychees with a little bit of the syrup from the tin. I also cut up a few pieces of lychee from the tin and added it to the juice to give it a bite)
Add 3 tablespoons of lychee juice to into each section of the popsicle mold. Freeze for 2 hours with the mold open (without the stick/holder).
Add 3 tablespoon of grape juice over the frozen lychee juice in each section of the mold. Freeze for 1 hours with the mold open (without the stick/holder).
Add 3 tablespoon of orange juice over the frozen grape juice. Insert the popsicle holder and freeze for another 3 hours.
To take out the popsicle, hold the mold under running water for a few minutes and gently twist it out of the mold.