Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Berries and Basundi

If ever you travel to Mumbai or cities near Mumbai on any business between January and May, do take a detour to Mahabaleshwar for a couple of days.  Mahabaleshwar lies in the Sahyadri (aka Western Ghats) range of mountains along the western coast of India.   This mountain range is said to have formed from the separation of the Indian and Madagascar tectonic plates around ninety million years ago. 

Mahabaleshwar grows all kinds of berries but is particularly famous for its strawberries.  The soil here, I've seen, is a rich red fertile sort suitable for growing strawberries for commercial purposes.  The Mahabaleshwar strawberry might even get its own Geographical Index (GI) status whereby the fruit grown there will be known as Mahabaleshwari strawberries, a sort of branding that celebrates its quality.

The strawberry festival is celebrated more or less every year, around February or March, during the peak of the strawberry season.  You can see mounds of berries displayed everywhere on the streets and in every nook and corner.  Mulberries have now made their appearance too, best eaten when ripe and sweet, staining one's fingers and clothes with a lush purple.  

The berries are best bought straight from the mountains.  By the time they are brought into nearby cities, the berries wilt under the scorching summer sun, losing luster and flavor.  They are, naturally, cheaper when bought directly from source.  And their nutritional value too is preserved, giving you their full benefit.

Basundi is a milk-based dessert dish, prepared in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka states of India.  It's simple and wholesome, and when prepared from scratch at home can be nutritious too.  Unfortunately, I don't think you can substitute milk with any other product, even soy milk, if you are a vegan, as milk is needed for the flavor.  I've noticed one or two recipes using soy milk in other blogs, but even they use condensed milk for added taste, so it's not really vegan either.

For strawberry and mulberry basundi recipes, do visit my blog.  I've put up details of its preparation.

While in Mahabaleshwar, I would recommend that you take the time to enjoy the scenery, driving around from point to point.  The ancient mountain range is spectacular and can make you feel small and humble indeed.


Lori Lynn

These dishes looks awesome. Love the colors.

I don't think I've even eaten a fresh mulberry. Must search them out...


I don't think I've ever eaten a mulberry, either - I've had jam, but no pieces in it, and no individual taste too! Just tasted like jam!


yumm this is super delicious, adding fruits to basundi is such a nice idea :) have been to mahabaleshwar a ton of times, it is a fab place, remember eating berries too!

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