Phalsa (Grewia asiatica) is a summer berry rich in pigment antioxidants. It is a popular street snack tossed with black salt and the phalsa sellers can be seen carrying the berries in a basket during summer months all over north India. Since the berries rot really fast there is a remote chance for these to reach supermarket isles. But a few street vendors will always keep bringing phalsa to us I am sure, there are people who forage such berries and make a living out of it. Good for conservation of such lesser known native fruits.
It's too hot here in Delhi and we are practically living on cooling foods and drinks, be it salads or sharbats or just plain lime water, nimboo paani, chilled slices of watermelons and muskmelons are mostly for lunch and light snacking throughout the day.
As I mentioned, Phalsa or Grewia asiatica is a tropical berry which is tangy and sweet with a unique flavor, it's taste pairs well with kala namak or black salt, some people call it pink salt too.
The fruit has a small stone inside which can be chewed and I prefer to chew on it whenever eating the berries in a salad like my mango salad or as it is with black salt.
But when they are made into a sharbat the seeds need to be discarded. For this you have to strain the pulp, but there is a problem that if you strain the pulp the skin of the fruit also gets discarded which is so full of color and hence rich in antioxidants. I devised a new method to do that.....see how it goes....
First put the berries in mixie jar or food processor and pulse to make a puree of the fruit. I add equal quantity of thinly slices beets to this pulsing mixture sometimes.
Add chilled water once a paste of formed, pulse again, and pass the mixture through a sieve so the stony seeds are separated.
Add ice cubes or more chilled water, pink salt to taste, add sugar if required and serve chilled.
A cup of phalsa berries and half a cup of beet slices result in 3-4 large glasses of thick smoothie like sharbat. You can always dilute it but then you might require a sweetener as the natural tangy sweet flavor of the berry will be diluted.
Do let me know if you have had this sharbat. The phalsa berry is not available in many parts of the country but one can grow a phalsa tree if space is not a constraint. I have planted one and is growing slowly. Someone would be able to pluck phalsa from them if not me :-)