Sunday, September 19, 2010

Strung Out of Exoticism

I get these sudden urges to have maniacal combinations while creating recipes and the one thing I stay away from is ruffling through complicated recipes in cookbooks where the dish title is longer than the recipe itself. I also rarely like to name my dishes - which is odd, but I prefer leaving it anonymous or unnamed for the benefit of the next benefactor of the recipe.

One such recipe was thought up by me during the Mango season. You will agree we Indians are slightly addled when the season begins, with people haggling over the sky rocketing prices of mangoes but still gleefully taking it back home like precious gold and carefully placing it on its throne - the kitchen mantle where is shines in all its glory, er, waiting to be devoured. End of it all, you will suck the life out of that kingly fruit and satisfy your craving, leaving it all up to the next day, when the haggling starts again.

This dish was just a thoughtful diversion from the usual way people consume mango, of course this time the mango was reduced to a meagre side role and the main attraction was a delicious juicy pear (I still get nasty stares from certain individuals in the family when I mention this dish, the same people who swear by this fruit and consume it like a drug, raw and inhibited).

This dish is a wonderful combination of juicy pears poached in a fruit and wine concoction, served with creamy vanilla ice-cream and of course - mango. Off season as it may be right now, the mango may be replaced (blasphemy!) with a variant such as a tangy kiwi or probably plums.


3 Large Pears (fragrant and blemish free)
2 cups Cranberry Juice
1 cup Red Wine (Sula, Chantilly works as well, leftover even better)
1 Stick Cinnamon
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Orange & Lemon Rind - (grated, ensure the white part does not get in)
1 tablsp Cointreau (optional)
Mango (or any other fruit) cut into 1 inch cubes
Basil Leaves
Chilled water
A scoop of Vanilla Ice-cream

In a large bowl, mash the basil leaves and add chilled water to it. Place the mango cubes in the chilled water and keep aside.

Peel the pears and cut into large wedges, place into a pot with the stick of cinnamon. Pour the juice and wine into the pot, making sure the juice covers the pears completely, if you feel the pot is larger, just add more juice or take a smaller but deeper pot. Add the rind and Cointreau and keep on a low flame to simmer. In about 15-20 minutes you will notice the pears absorbing the reds of the juice and wine and releasing its own juices. Poke it with a knife or fork to check on firmness. The fruit should not turn mushy, it would be a good time to drain the fruit once you check that its firm enough.Keep the poached pears aside.

Retain the juice-wine liquid in the pot and add the sugar, turn up the heat to a medium high and simmer the liquid till it thickens. Once boiling, switch off the heat and leave the sauce to cool. It should have a thick saucy consistency.

To serve, place the poached pears on a plate, add a scoop of vanilla ice-cream on the side. Drain the mango from the chilled water and spoon it on the side of the plate. Drizzle atop with the juice-wine reduction and serve immediately.

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