Guava goes gourmet: Let’s cook up a storm with the fragrant fruit
That rich aroma of coffee, that earthy scent of rain, and that musky whiff of guavas, yellow and green, are a treat for the senses. Talk of the fragrant winter fruit, guava, especially the famed guavas of Prayagraj (Allahabad), and it has many takers for its dense texture and strong flavour. And the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj gives its millions of visitors a chance to dig their teeth into the Allahabadi Amrood — juicy red guavas with a fan following that transcends borders.
Prayagraj also organises a one-of-a-kind guava festival to celebrate the fruit. “Guava doesn’t really get the fanfare, the way mango does. Allahabad has been known for its guavas for ages, but one wasn’t really celebrating the fruit here, so we started to showcase varieties, exchange innovative guava recipes, the likes of amrood kheer, soup and shrikhand since 2016 at our own guava festival in Prayagraj,” says Samina Naqvi, secretary, Sanchaari, an organisation that promotes everything Allahabadi.
GET COOKING WITH GUAVAS
Guavas aren’t just a delight to eat raw but cook, too. The fruit is also a favourite among Delhi chefs who have been creating innovative dishes with it. Chef Sagar Bajaj says, “Guava has been used in cooking since ancient times and it has great medicinal values. It is packed with nutrients and its distinctive taste makes a dish flavourful. Of late, we are using guavas in soups, curries, innovative desserts and more.”
Chef Nishant Choubey says that one can use both unripe and ripe guava in cooking and even substitute meats with the fruit. “Due to its tartaric qualities, guava can replace tomato in recipes. It is a fibrous fruit when it is young and can be an excellent ingredient to replace meats and create dishes such as tandoori guava (replacing chicken or paneer), guava moilee (replacing fish), guava chettinad (replacing chicken), and guava rogan josh (guavas cooked with a bit of marinade in tandoor and then in a gravy which has no tomatoes). And the ripe guavas can be used as coulis, sauce, jam, marmalade, foams; and also as icing on the cake,” he says.
“Tenderise lamb with a guava rub, or marinate fish with guava paste and mustard before roasting or preparing tikkas, and you’ll relish the difference in taste. Or, just as we braise meats in a slow oven, we can braise the guava in wine or in an Asian stock. Once cooked, the braised guava can be eaten either cold or lightly seared in a hot pan,” he adds.
There’s something for soup fans, too. “You can cook guava and fennel soup by making purees of both. Add millets to make it a complete meal; fabulous for those who want to shed weight,” says Choubey.
Warm guava salad
Marinate the seedless guava cubes in mirin, soy and coriander roots. Keep aside for 30 minutes.
Cut black carrot and turnip into juliennes and keep them on ice so that they remain crisp.
Take a pan, add olive oil, sliced garlic, onion, green chili, red chili, dry chili and cook till the onions turn translucent and the smokiness of dry chili is felt.
Add the marinated guavas. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Adjust the sourness by adding brown sugar.
Finish off the dish with chopped spring onions, black pepper powder and salt, if required.
—Recipe by chef Nishant Choubey
Guava Glazed Chicken
Lightly dredge chicken breasts with the flour.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.
Pan fry chicken breasts until golden brown on both sides.
When nearly cooked, drain oil and deglaze it with Triple Sec while the chicken still in the pan.
Turn down the heat and add minced garlic, ginger and guavas.
Heat until you can smell the exotic aromas.
Move the chicken breast to the side of the pan, and cream in butter.
Remove chicken breasts and pour guava butter sauce over each breast. Garnish with guava slices.
—Recipe by chef Vaibhav Bhargava
Barbequed guava fish fillet
For grilled fish: Marinate fillet of fish with fresh turmeric, scallions, olive oil, garlic, chilly flakes. Grill it on both sides until cooked.
For guava purée: Sauté garlic in olive oil and add saffron threads. Add guava purée and cook for 7 minutes on medium heat. Add coriander and cranberry and finish it off with fresh cream.
For barbequed guava wedges: Grill the guava wedges (marinated in chilly flakes, olive oil, coriander and scallions) until tender. Sprinkle salt and pepper.
Plating: Place barbequed guava on purée. Top it with grilled fillet of fish and garnish it with coriander, dried burnt red chilli and scallions.
—Recipe by chef Sagar Bajaj
Guava cheese cake
Peel the guava skin, and cut the fruit in two halves. Scoop out the pulp and strain it. Keep aside the left behind cup-shaped guava.
Cook the guava juice over medium heat until it reduces to 1/4th the quantity.
Combine the pulp with salt, mint and cream cheese to prepare a smooth mix and fill the guava cup with it.
—Recipe by chef Ravi Kant
RECIPES AND TIPS FROM PRAYAGRAJ
Grate the guavas (exclude the seeds) and deep fry till light brown.
Then roast some khoa (condensed milk, solid) till it gets a brownish colour, and keep aside.
In a pan, heat a spoonful of ghee with 1-2 elaichi (cardamom). Add chopped coconut and roast well for two minutes. Add dry fruits of your choice.
For the kemam, heat a mix of water and sugar till it thickens, stirring occasionally. And then add 1-2 pinch of edible orange colour. To this, add the khoa, dry fruits and fried guavas, and your Kemam-e-Amrood Sewai is ready.
Take a ripe guava and blend it well in a mixer. Add milk and ice-cream to it with some ice and top it with chocolate
Guava soup is cooked with blended guava with a pinch of ginger in hot water. Add salt and pepper to taste, and strain. Add some mint leaves to enhance the flavour.
Blend a ripe guava, and mix with curd. Now, hang the curd, and wait for it to thicken. Next, whip it well with cardamom powder in a bowl, and add some honey to sweeten it. Voila! It’s ready.
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