The Fabled Bael Tree
The bael is a fabled fruit in Indian mythology, with its leaves been a particular favorite offering of Lord Shiva. Agele Marmelos is the scientific name of the plant which is native to the Indian sub-continent and parts of South-East Asia. The plant is known by a host of common names which include Wood apple, Bengal Quince, Japanese bitter orange and golden apple.
The tree bears pale greenish to yellow sweetly scented flowers. The leaves are trifoliate, which means the three individual leaves are attached to a single stalk. The leaves of the bael tree are in heavy demand in and around areas of spiritual interest in India. The fruit is globular to somewhat pear shaped. The rind is thick and hard in nature, and does not split open by itself upon ripening of the fruit. The shell of the fruit is smooth and woody with a grayish green color which turns yellowish brown once the fruit ripens. The shell is particularly hard and may require a machete or a tool hammer to be cracked open. The insides of the fruit is segregated into a large number of sections, each of which contains the seeds as well as the fragrant orange pulp when the fruit is fully ripe. It is from this aromatic and delicious pulp that the sherbet is prepared. The drink is a popular energizer found extensively on the streets of India. The fruit however takes a good ten months to ripen while still on the tree, making the sherbet a seasonal delicacy.
It is a simple preparation best served chilled with minimum added flavors. You may however choose to spice it up a bit adding a pinch of the traditional roasted, ground spices used to give that extra punch to your lemonade.
- 1 whole wood apple fruit, or halved and seeded
- 100 grams of sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 500 ml water
- Scoop out the pulp from the shell
- Heat a pan and add pulp
- Add sugar and water
- Mix well and cook for about 5 minutes till an uniform consistency is reached
- Add lemon juice and let it rest for 2 minutes and subsequently strain
- Put in refrigerator to serve chill
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