Bel/Bael or stone apple is also known as Elephant apple and Bengal Quince. It gets its name of stone apple due to the hard cover. It is native to India and the tree is considered sacred for Hindus. Bael fruit is used in traditional medicine. It is also found in Srilanka and Thailand.
Bael fruit is a storehouse of good health and nutrition. Packed with protein, phosphorus, Vitamin C and B complex and tannin it strengthens the heart and mind, cures acidity, increases body resistance and improve the memory. It also cures ulcers and gastric disorders, treats acidity, burning sensation in the stomach and nausea, cleans the stomach of impurities and cures weak eyes. It is also a good cardiac tonic and energy booster. A good source of beta-carotene, Bael also cure liver problems. It also contain thiamine and riboflavin. Once a week intake of Bael fruit cures Amoebiasis .
Bael is used for making sharbat, chutney and murraba. The fruit is also eaten as medicinal remedy.
To make a healthy Bael ( Stone apple ) sharbat we need :
- Ripe Fragrant Wood Apple – 1 Medium
- Sugar/Jaggery powder – To Taste (Depends on the sweetness of bael fruit)
- Water – About 4 Glasses
- Fresh Mint Leaves – 10-12
- Lemon Juice – 1/2 Lemon
- Lime Quarters – 3-4
- Rock Salt powder – 1/4 teaspoon per glass
- Roasted cumin powder – 1/4 teaspoon
- Ice Cubes
Crack open a ripe Bael fruit and scoop out all the fibrous flesh in a large glass bowl. No need to discard the seeds right now.
Add 2 glasses of water to the pulp so that it submerges completely. Cover with a lid and set aside for 2-3 hours.
Now mash the soaked pulp with hands and once it mixes properly sieve it through a thin mesh to collect maximum amount of juice.
Add a little more water and sieve again. Throw away the seeds and insoluble fiber.
Add Sugar/ jaggery powder as per the sweetness of the fruit concentrate and mix well. Refrigerate till you are ready to use.
- To serve panna, fill the glasses with ice cubes and pour the bael juice concentrate over it. Add Rock salt powder and the required amount of water and stir properly.
- Garnish with lemon wheels and fresh mint sprigs.
- Serve chilled.
You can muddle some fresh mint leaves and add to the fruit concentrate too. A hint of ginger also tastes good at times.
Do make the traditional summer beverages that used to be a part of our daily cuisine. They are not just refreshing but also therapeutic. Keep away from commercial, synthetic drinks.