Wishing you all a wonderful Holi !!
Thandaai as the name itself means coolant, which is derived from the word thanda meaning cool. It is synonymous to holi celebrations as it is served as a soothing drink for the holi revellers who feel tired and thirsty seeking something which alleviates their spirit, re-energizes and refreshes them and at the same time satiates their tastebuds with a unique appetizing experience. It is the most sought after, popular and prominent foodstuff among all the special food and drinks served on the occasion.
Thandaai basically has two components, one is a mixture of all spices, condiments & seasonings which houses all the flavours and the aroma that has to be inside it and the other is a preferably dairy based mellow fluid component which is usually milk or sometimes curd/yogurt in which it is dissolved. These two components together brings the richness of flavour to the thandaai thus making it a creamy and flavourful drink. Thandaai is a kind of beverage that gives you a mouth feel or you can also chew and taste the bulk along with the refreshing taste of the drink. Mostly, the mixture has in it chopped nuts, poppy seeds, other seeds or seed pastes & spices like cardamom, saffron, pepper etc. Here, I have tried my version of thandaai whose main ingredient is the Elephant Apple which has a mildly sweet aroma and a sour taste which I have combined with freshly scraped coconut, nuts, and spices. Since the elephant apple is tangy in taste, I have used yogurt instead of milk as the fluid to maintain the creaminess of the thandaai which comes from the yogurt here. I intend to bring the Elephant apple to the forefront by highlighting the fruit in my new version of thandaai as this wonderful fruit has innumerable health benefits and have the potential to become a superfood.
The tree, that grows rampantly in Bengal, Bihar, Orissa and Assam, was scientifically named Dillenia indica by the Swedish botanist Linnaeus. In the wild, it is a favourite snack of elephants. Hence. the name Elephant Apple was derived. In Assam & Orissa, it is known as Outenga and Ou respectively, which is usually used in preparations of fish curries, daal (pulses) and other vegetable recipes. In Bihar, the fruit is called Chalta and in West Bengal, Tripura & Bangladesh, they are known as Chaalta. In Bengal chaalta is mostly consumed either as pickles, bharta(raw mash) or as sweet & sour chutneys called as tok and also sometimes with small fishes.
Elephant apple chaaltaa fruits have an impressive nutrient profile, being a source of some vital nutrients. They are naturally rich in vitamins C, B complex (especially thiamine, and riboflavin) & E, potassium, healthy fats, amino acids and proteins. These fruits are also rich in beta-carotene and are also low in cholesterol.
These fruits are also packed with numerous health benefits, to name a few, they prevent kidney ailments, lowers blood pressure, slows down aging, and protects against depression. They are also equally beneficial for the liver and heart. Chaaltaa fruit is indeed a super food or rather a super fruit with a vast list of health benefits which include from treating hypertension, rejuvenating skin, boosting vitality, to balancing psychological health and what not.
So now try out this wonder fruit in a slightly different way with this recipe of mine. Here goes the recipe below :
- Elephant apple (Chaaltaa/Outenga) – 1 whole.
- Coconut (grated) – 1 cup.
- Dry fruits (almonds, cashews, pistachio(s); finely chopped) 1/2 cup.
- Sugar or jaggery – As per taste.
- Black pepper – 1 tsp.
- Black salt – 1/3rd tsp.
- Curd or Yogurt – 1 cup.
- Pomegranate (for garnishing) – 1/4th cup.
- Cut the elephant apple into pieces, wash and keep.
- In a blender, grind to make a paste out of it. Strain the paste using a muslin cloth and keep aside.
- Now, prepare your thandaai mix using the above mentioned freshly ground paste of elephant apple.
- In a jar or bowl, take the ground pulp of chaaltaa, add grated coconut, chopped dry fruits, black pepper & black salt, and mix them togetheror just blend in a blender.
- Your thandaai mix is ready.
- Take this mixture and curd in 1:1 ratio for preparing your thandaai in order to get the rich flavour of chaaltaa.
- Add sugar or grated jaggery and mix well.
- Garnish with some more chopped nuts, scraped coconut & pomegranate seeds and chill it for some time in the refrigerator or you may just gulp it immediately to soothe your thirsty heart and soul.
Enjoy this super tasty and healthy thandaai this Holi and make your Holi healthier and more flavourful.