The summer season is here and so is the time to indulge in some juicy and pulpy seasonal fruits - from mangoes to watermelon and to muskmelon (kharbooja). Be it in form of juice/sherbet/smoothie or as it is, these fruits are enjoyed to the fullest to soothe our souls and beat the extreme heat. Other than these very popular fruits, summer also brings a not much talked about, but a tasty indigenous fruit called bael or wood apple. You might have noticed street-vendors selling 'bael ka sherbet' in a hot summer afternoon! This sweet-smelling fruit not only makes a luscious drink, but also is famed to have several health benefits, especially promoting better gut-health.
Health Benefits Of Bael (Wood Apple):
Bael is rich in number of nutrients, including vitamin A, B, C, several minerals and fibre. This fruit is stated to be good for digestion and can fight tummy-related issues like constipation, acidity, irregular bowel etc. Bael is also dubbed to be good for maintaining blood sugar level and strengthening immunity system.
Hence, we bring you a bael-based drink recipe that is both healthy and tasty and can cool you down in a hot summer day. It is called 'bael pana', a Bengali-style bael-based smoothie. Bael pana is a very common drink in a Bengali household during the summers. You can give it a try too!
Here's The Recipe for Bael Pana (Bengali-Style Bael Smoothie):
Bael (wood apple)- 1 medium-sized
Milk- 1 cup (preferably chilled)
Sugar-jaggery powder- as per taste
Black/pink salt- 1.5 teaspoon
Cashew- 5-6 (crushed- optional)
Raisins- 1 teaspoon (chopped- optional)
Wash the bael in clean water and break open the hard outer shell.
Scrape out the pulp with a spoon in a bowl (preferably a bit bigger-sized).
Clean the wax-textured seeds with hands as much as possible; or else the seeds make the drink bitter in taste.
Now, add some water (less than half cup) to the pulp and let it rest for 5 minutes. This process makes the pulp softer. If the pulp is ripe and soft enough, then you can avoid this step.
Mash the pulp well with hand. Remember, the only tool you need to make the smoothie is your hand.
You can see some extract left in your hand after mashing the pulp; throw away that part.
Now, add chilled milk, jaggery powder/sugar and pink/black salt to the pulp and mix well to get a smoothie-like consistency.
Transfer it to tall glasses and garnish with cashew and raisins; however, this step is optional. You can also add some ice-cubes if you want.
Some people do not like adding any of the above. Water-based pulpy bael pana also tastes great. In that case you need to soak the pulp in water and then mash it well.
Although it's not an authentic Bengali-style, some people like adding dahi/curd or coconut milk instead of milk to make the smoothie.
It is a known fact that metabolism of a body is the highest during the morning time. Hence starting the day with a glass of chilled 'bel pana' may help you maintain a better gut health during the summers. Stay healthy, stay safe!
About Somdatta SahaExplorer- this is what Somdatta likes to call herself. Be it in terms of food, people or places, all she craves for is to know the unknown. A simple aglio olio pasta or daal-chawal and a good movie can make her day.