by Tarla Dalal
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An invaluable winter preserve. Amlas (Indian gooseberries) are a major ingredient in several herbal tonics as they are reputed to be good for the liver, eyes and stomach. Amlas are the richest known source of vitamin C. Amlas are abundantly available during the winter months. I actually buy a large quantity of this fruit each year to make murabbas. Whole amlas simmered in a cardamom and saffron flavoured syrup is one of my personal favourites. There are several traditional recipes for making this murabba. Some soak the amlas in alum (phitkari) overnight whilst others sun-dry amlas. I find it easiest to cook the amlas in boiling water to get rid of all its bitter juices. The entire process takes about 2 to 3 days. First the amlas are simmered in a thin sugar syrup and left aside for 2 days during which the amlas slowly and gradually soak in the syrup. On the third day, the syrup is boiled again along with the flavouring to a thick honey like consistency and the amlas are added. The thick syrup helps in the preservation of the murabba and also complements the sharp and acidic amla taste. When preserved for a long period of time, the syrup of the murabba turns to a dark brown to an almost black colour and takes in all the goodness of the amlas. I am sure you will enjoy this recipe as much I have enjoyed making it for you.
- Wash the amlas thoroughly. Prick them with a fork at regular intervals.
- Boil plenty of water in a pan, add the amlas and boil for 10 minutes over a high flame. Drain and keep aside.
- Dissolve the sugar in 3 cups of water and bring the syrup to a boil. Add the amlas and cook over a slow flame for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the amlas are soft.
- Allow the mixture to cool completely. Keep covered in a cool dry place for at least 48 hours, so that the amlas soak in the syrup.
- On the third day, drain the amlas from the syrup, boil the syrup with cardamom powder and saffron till it reduces to a 2 to 3 string consistency. Add the amlas and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Allow it to cool completely.
- Bottle in a sterilised glass jar. Store for upto 1 year at room temperature.
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