Green grapes, black grapes.. they are all great. This is a happy time at home because mangoes have begun trickling in and grapes are still aplenty. So two of my daughters’ favourite fruits are available. They like both green and black grapes mixed together.
Alyona looks forward to her Grape Smoothie and I indulge in raita made with black grapes, thick yogurt and crushed walnuts. So what can grapes do to savouries and sweets? Once dried, as kishmish, they can do a lot but that is something we can look at later. Fresh, juicy, plump grapes provide colour, texture, moisture, sweetness and nutrition. They act as a counter hot spice too.
In India, 85 per cent of the total grape output is used fresh as snacks, 12 per cent goes into making kishmish, only two per cent is juiced and one per cent goes to the wine industry.
Forget the traditional sherbets, chutney or jam culled out of grapes — try a Green Grape Salsa or an Almond and Grape Soup. You can fry some fish and serve with Grape Tartare Sauce. Or take large Californian grapes and cover with caramel to make Toffee Grapes. These are kids’ delight. Toss some pasta with herbs and serve with a lavish addition of chopped grapes.
A colourful Chicken and Grape Bruschetta awaits you at the end of my column. For a more desi feel, toss some chicken tikka with grapes and then serve as chaat.
Now we know how grapes provide the bejeweled look to salads, pastas and desserts. Recently, I had Fresh Black Grape Ice Cream.
We also know they are sweet as they can be and make divine sherbets and jams. Grapes are small bite sized parcels of nutrition containing natural sugar fructose, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and C. They provide powerful antioxidants that are required to keep the heart healthy. The grape skin has an antioxidant called resveratrol that has been known to safeguard the arterial walls from damage by LDL. Grape juice is diuretic and a powerful detoxifier. So having fresh grapes is beneficial to health.
Grapes have high pesticide residues. You have to break them off the stems and soak them in water with a little salt for a while. Scrub well, rinse well and then place in a colander. Wipe dry and serve. In case you need to refrigerate, do so at this stage, but place in a colander. Do not cover. When shopping for grapes, pick up a bunch with plump grapes securely attached to the stem. This is a sign of freshness.
(The writer is a master chef, author and television host. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org )