For us amla (Indian Gooseberries) is always like the old wise owl of the plant realm. Everything and anything that a great advice is about. There’s a multitude of feelings I have for this fruit – fear, detest, amazement, and a new one is for me was a sense of compassion and love. Amla recalls me of boyhood, of horrible mornings when my brothers and me would be actually pulled out of our bed & force fed a bile mixture of dried amla mashed in sour buttermilk – purportedly an effective weapon to tummy vermins.
Then soon as the sun turned its direction & cool winds swept across the north Indian plain amla would’ve been bought in by the kilogram and stored in honey in enormous bharanis (ceramic jars) (ceramic jars). It was essentially family thing that winters weekends be held aside for pickling and preserving all the beautiful winter fruits and veggies that inundated the mandi (market) (market). Those are not the period of deep freeze and we’d be excitedly awaiting for new cauliflower, deep red carrots, creamy radishes, brighter than chickpeas, and also the wintry green, to visit our table. Mum would prepare her renowned winter pickled, a crispy combination of carrots, radishes, turnips, & cauliflower; scarlet chilly pickle, filled with fennel & cumin and bathed in peanut oil, pungent but sweet yet spicy, at once.
At any particular day, a sunny location in our backyard or porch would’ve been lined by bharanis loaded with the fruit of mum’s efforts. And typically one of those is a jar full of Alma Murrabba (amla with honey preserves) scented with a hint of fennel. Every evening you would be offered a tablespoon of this, to enhance our immunity. We thought it was stupid! But almost two decades ago I found myself appreciating the flavour, and taste of amla. Sour nearly bordering bitter during first touch, and then afterwards an unusual sweetness. There’s a phrase in malayalam that expresses it well “moothavar chollum muthu nellikeyum – athyam kayikyum pinne madhurikyum” – such as the word of the wise seniors, the Amla at first taste bitter, then sweet.
The fruit has an indescribable beauty about it. Its little, yet strong in the beauty it contains. And while I was rather late in understanding the nuances of its taste, surprise my sister loves amla, specifically candied amla. Before I was getting packets of caramelized amla from of the Industry is rapidly shop, but started trying my hand at creating some, my daughter’s happy and consumes a few nibbles every day.
- 2 cups amla (Indian Gooseberries)
- roughly a glassful of sugar + additional
1. Clean the amla & set aside.
2. Heat up in a massive steel saucepan and after the water hits boiling temperature, turn off heat, place the all amlas in the pan, cover and just let it sit about 8 to 10 minutes.
3. After 10 min, pour all of the liquid from of the amla and just let it cool slightly. Once cool enough just to touch, using a serrated knife cut the amla in wedge, the wedges will fall off very effortlessly. Discard the kernel
4. Collect the chopped Amla in another saucepan (stainless steel), and top with sugar. Place a cover and set away for a day.
5. Next day you’d discover that the honey has transformed into nectar, give the amla sliced & sugar syrup a thick sauce, again cover and store aside for two to three days.
6. Day after 3 drain the simple syrup, and spread powdered sugar soaking amla on a platter, and let dry inside the sunlight, or in an air room.
7. Once dry wrap them in the artificial flavouring, & keep in an air-tight box.