Jamuns, bers, and star fruits are the stuff childhood memories are made of. Newspaper cones filled with squishy crimson bers, ensconcedin salt and chilli powder, taking a walk in Sanjay Gandhi National Park and cooling down with fat slices of shiny green star fruits, and sticking purple-stained tongues out after eating too many sweet-sour-astringent-tasting jamuns.
Jamuns are entrenched in our myths and legends. For instance, the jambudvipa – jamun island – according to Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism cosmologies – is where humans lived at the beginning of time.
Today, all sorts of jamun delicacies are available in the market – from strips of diabetes-friendly jamun chips to jamun juice and kala khatta golas and jamun vinegar. I was gob smacked to learn from a story by food writer Vikram Doctor that jamuns are the basis of kala khatta, along with sugar, rock salt, and nimbu. Apparently, everyone knows about it. But then kala khatta gola has a ring to it, unlike a jamun gola. Well, I’m definitely plotting a jamun sorbet soon.
My friend Deborah had a jamun tree outside her house in Cooke Town in Bengaluru and promptly tucked ripe jamuns under a bed of oats, butter and sugar, to make one of the most interesting fruit crumbles I have had. Given its unique flavour, it’s a bit of a surprise that we don’t have a bevy of jamun desserts. Instead, we haul blueberries and blackberries from halfway across the world, rather than celebrating our mulberries and jamuns.
Which is why I decided to bake it into a clafoutis, a classic French dessert which is usually made with cherries. A clafoutis has a delightful custard consistency which does wonders to the astringent jamun taste. For the recipe, cherries are usually marinated in kirsch or brandy. I marinated the jamuns in a Sula Riesling white wine, on a friend’s suggestion. But it works fine without that as well.
Adapted from a recipe by Nigel Slater
2 tbsp- Sugar
2 tbsp- White wine (optional)
2- Free range eggs
½ tsp- Vanilla extract
30g- Butter, melted
2 tbsp- Demerara sugar
Some icing sugar for dusting
*Stone the jamuns and cut them in half.
* Toss them with 2 tbsp of sugar and wine. Leave to macerate for a couple of hours.
* Butter a baking dish and dust it with the demerara sugar.
* Put the jamuns at the bottom of the pan.
* Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F.
* Beat the sugar and eggs together.
* Add sieved flour, milk and vanilla extract, and mix well. Stir in the melted butter.
* Pour the batter over the jamuns. Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown.
* Dust with icing sugar.
* Serve warm with custard or ice cream. Though a cold jamun clafoutis is quite delicious as well.