Meals that heal: Custard apple gives cheese cake a special flavour. Here’s how to make it

The custard apple tree is not especially attractive. It is erect, with a rounded or spreading crown and trunk. The flowers never fully open. The skin, thin but tough, may be yellow or brownish when ripe, with a pink, reddish or brownish-red blush, and faintly, moderately, or distinctly reticulated. There is a thick, cream-white layer of custard-like, somewhat granular, flesh beneath the skin surrounding the moderately juicy segments, in many of which there is a single, hard, oblong, dark-brown or black, glossy seed.

Culinary uses

Ripe custard apple is soft to the touch and the stem and attached core can be easily pulled out. The flesh may be scooped out from the skin and eaten as it is or served with light cream and a sprinkling of sugar. Often it is pressed through a sieve and added to milk shakes, custards or ice cream. A delicious sauce for cake and puddings can be made by blending the seeded flesh with mashed banana and a little cream.

Medicinal value

The leaf decoction is administered as a vermifuge. Crushed leaves or a paste of the flesh may be used as a poultice on boils, abscesses and ulcers. The unripe fruit is rich in tannin; it is dried, pulverised and used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery. The bark is astringent and the decoction is taken as a tonic and a remedy for diarrhoea and dysentery. In severe cases, the leaves, the bark and the green fruits are all boiled together for five minutes in a litre of water to make a potent decoction. Fragments of the root bark are packed around the gums to relieve toothache.

Custard apple cheese cake

Ingredients

Base

Ginger nut biscuits: 1 packet

Melted butter: 125gm

Filling

Cream cheese: 250gm

Castor sugar: half cup

Evaporated milk (cold): 250 ml

Gelatine dissolved in quarter cup of boiling water: 3 tsp

Juice of 1 lemon or lime

Large custard apple: 1

Kiwi fruit for garnish: half a fruit

Almond flakes: 50 gm

Shredded coconut: 25 gm

Method: Crush the biscuits finely and mix them with the melted butter. Press the mixture into a 20 cm tart tray and chill it for half an hour. Dissolve the gelatine in water. Put the custard apple flesh in a blender and blend it until it is smooth. Whip the evaporated milk until it becomes thick. Mix all the ingredients together. Pour it into the base and put it in the refrigerator to set. After it sets, decorate it with slices of kiwi fruit and sprinkle shredded coconut and toasted almonds on the top.

Executive Chef

Vivanta by Taj – Fisherman’s Cove

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