Keep cool this summer with an incredibly simple-to-make granita

A fine dining restaurants where a meal may comprise of several courses, the chef likes to have his diners take a break from all the rich flavours, by offering them a palate cleanser in between courses. A granita works beautifully as a palate cleanser. It is a frozen combination of sugar, water and some flavouring.

The texture of a granita varies from the coarse ice crystal kind to the smoother form, similar to a sorbet. It depends on the technique used in freezing and scraping. A granite is much easier and quicker to make than an ice cream and is not nearly as heavy on the stomach. And it is delicious for the summer...A helping of granita is what I offer you this week to cleanse your palate in between the cheese courses!

Though it is simple to make, the process does require some attention. Because it comprises mainly water, and it is frozen ,it has to be served just before eating as it tends to melt very quickly.

You can experiment to your heart’s content and try out different flavour combinations. It’s like having your very own kitchen laboratory.

I decided to make the combinations that I thought would be perfect for this summer. They are a green mango granita and a rose and lemon one. Both recipes are from my home kitchen and I’m pleased to share them with you.

Green mango granita (Serves four)

Green mango and mint are very cooling. Pudina sherbet and the aam ka panna are popular drinks for hot summer months. It is precisely why I thought of making the green mango granita. It is sweetened with palm jaggery and the black salt adds the perfect balance to it. Palm jaggery is available at all organic stores in rock form. Once you buy it, wipe it clean ,powder it and store in an airtight container .It can be used instead of white sugar.

Ingredients

Green mango - 1 medium sized

Pudina/mint leaves - 1/2 a cup (cleaned and dried)

Palm sugar/Pannangkalkandu - 5 Tbsp or to taste

Black salt - 2 pinches

Water - 3 cups

Shallow dish - 1

Method

In a pan, add the water and sugar and stir on low heat until the sugar dissolves. Make sure it does NOT boil. Set it aside to cool completely. Taste and adjust the sweetness.

Remove the skin from the mango and slice thinly and then chop. Blend the mango with the mint leaves, black salt and 2 tsp water into a fine pulp. Mix the pulp into the sugar water evenly. Taste. Adjust flavours at this point, if necessary. Pour into a shallow dish, cover and put it in the freezer. After two to three hours, take it out, scrape the frozen mixture with a fork. It should be dry and crumbly. Fork it through evenly, the texture will resemble ice crystals. Return it to the freezer, covered. After an hour, repeat the same process. The granita will now have a softer and fluffier texture. You may repeat this process once more. Serve it in little glasses or small cups. Garnish with mint or bits of mango.

Lemon and rose granita (Serves four)

My first experience with rosewater was when, as a child, my mother would soak cotton pads with it and place it on my eyes, just before bedtime. To this day, it works like a charm for an instant rejuvenation after a long tiring day. In the middle-east rosewater is used to flavour many desserts and drinks. Closer home, Indians love the taste of rose milk. That’s my inspiration for a lemon and rose flavoured granite. Not just rose water, it has real rose flavouring too. The Indian rose has been a part of our cuisine, long before edible flowers became fashionable. The soft pink of this granita looks like pink quartz crystals.

Ingredients

Water - 4 cups

Honey - 2 to 3 Tbsps

Juice of 1 lemon

Rose water - 1 Tbsp

Rose syrup - 1 Tbsp (more if you want it sweeter or more pink)

Shallow dish - 1

Method

In a pan on very low heat, mix together the water and honey. Keep stirring until well combined. Do NOT let it come to a boil. Set it aside, partially covered, to cool. Once cooled, mix in the lemon juice, rose water and rose syrup, taste and adjust flavours as needed. Pour into a shallow dish, cover with cling film and leave it in the freezer. After about three hours, use a fork and scrape the frozen mixture. It will form soft shards of pale rose coloured ice. Once completely scraped, cover and return it to the freezer. Repeat the process. Ensure you use a shallow dish as this will make the mixture freeze faster and also will be easier to fork through. You could also make a rose milk granita using the same method, the addition of milk might give it a more sorbet like consistency.

Get your kids involved in making a granita this vacation. It is a perfect summer project.

Read more on Shanthini’s website.