Sunday, March 08, 2015

Pineapple Honey Quench - Summer Cooler/Mocktail

Pineapple or Ananas, one of the most delicious juicy tropical fruit is originally from South America. It is widely used in preparing juices, sweets, jams, preserves, desserts, curries and wine. It is seasonal, but there are places where they grow pineapple round the year. Soans Farm in Bannadka Moodabidri close to Mangalore grows a special variety of pineapple that grows really big, juicy and sweet. We also get fresh pineapple juice pasteurised and bottled by Dr LC Soans. Pineapple candy is also sold in boxes there. However, home grown pineapple has its own significance, and I had the opportunity to harvest one such pineapple recently which we used in making a sweet dish, a curry and also a special mocktail that I named 'Pineapple Honey Quench'.
When I was in school, Chandamama and Balamitra monthly feature magazines used to be my companions. I used to read the stories and get fascinated. There were some long stories translated from foreign languages that used to appear in series, especially those on travel and adventure. One such story was about the Amazon Forest in which a ship carrying salt gets wrecked and some of the travellers are stranded by the riverside dense forest. They meet a small boy named Kumewawa who takes them around, hunting for food, offering them a variety of exotic fruits and other forest produce which the travellers had never experienced in a natural habitat before. I specially remember one scene in which Kumewawa plucks a ripe pineapple and cuts it into pieces, drizzles pure wild honey over that and offers that to the travellers. They relish the combination and feel good. We are used to eating Jack fruit segments with honey. Pineapple and honey combo was imprinted on my mind after reading Kumewawa's story, but I'd never tried it till I made this mocktail the other day.

Honey Quench was a branded honey drink manufactured marketed by Amrith Apiaries in Kadri Hills Mangalore in the late Sixties and Seventies. However, they lost market when Coca Cola, Fanta, Gold Spot and Rim Zim flooded the market. Younger generation seldom gets attracted to local beverages and Honey Quench and a few other such drinks lost ground sooner than they were launched those days!

My other experience was tasting one of the best pineapple juices at Shivamogga in the early Seventies at an eatery on Nehru Road called 'Manohar Tiffin Rooms'. There he served hot snacks like Idli, Vada, Cutlet and Samosa along with  a few nice juices and Joy Ice Cream. I used to hang around that place, gobble up some snack and drink one or two glasses of pineapple juice. The specialty of the juice the owner made contained small chunks of pineapple floating and we used to fish out the pieces with the spoon he provided along with the juice! It used to have the right amount of added sugar and the pineapple used to be sweet and tangy!

So, based on what Kumewawa served the travellers in the story, Honey Quench beverage that I had tasted in Mangalore and also the pineapple juice at Manohar Tiffin Rooms Shivamogga, I decided to make the mocktail Pineapple Honey Quench with fresh pineapple juice made from part of the lonely fruit we harvested, adding chunks of pineapple, fresh Coorg honey and Angostura Bitters, an aromatic cocktail mix from Trinidad and Tobago that my brother Dr Radhakanth had brought few years ago.

Angostura Bitters is made from plant extracts and the smell is almost like our Ayurvedic medicines. It can be added to cocktails, mocktails, juices, ice creams and just about anything that you serve chilled. It enhances the flavour of the drink leaving a nice aroma after you sip the drink. 'Screw Driver', a Vodka-Orange based cocktail  can not be made without adding Angostura Bitters. A full bottle of this cocktail mix was in store since I had quit drinking Two years ago. I though of making the best use of it this summer, adding to various mocktails and frozen desserts that we are going to make and present in the coming two or three months.

Making juice is very easy but cleaning and cutting pineapple is laborious. There are pineapple cutters available in the market but I clean it manually the traditional way, using a sharp knife. The standard measurement is, a cup of pineapple pieces with 4 glasses of water and 8 spoonful of sugar should yield 4-5 glasses of thin juice. Then again we are adding honey and pineapple chunks. So you may add 6-8 teaspoonfuls of sugar to one cup of pineapple pieces and 4 glasses of water. Better not add crushed ice or ice cubes,as fresh juice tastes better if you chill it for 2-3 hours before consuming. Make this summer cooler in a big volume, and you will see a nod of approval from your young ones who will ask for more! 
Fresh Pineapple - 3 slices cut into 1" pieces(About 1 cup pieces) + 1 slice chopped into small chunks separately.
Sugar - 6-8 Tsp
Water - 4 glasses or 800 Ml
Pure Honey - 4-6 Tsp
Angostura Bitters

In a mixer, liquefy the pineapple pieces with water and sugar for 2-3 minutes.
Strain through a fine sieve into a vessel or juice jug.
Add the pineapple chunks.
Chill for 2-3 hours in the fridge.

To serve:
Take 4 Hiball glasses or Champagne Flutes.
Shake the chilled pineapple juice and pour into the glasses equally, leaving 2-3 mm space at the brim.
Carefully add a spoonful or two of honey into each glass.
You may adjust volume of added honey according to your taste.
Add a dash of Angostura Bitters into each one of the glasses and serve immediately with stirrer and straw.
You can add a pinch of Kaala namak(Saindhava Lavana) and black pepper powder if you don't get Angostura Bitters.
To make the straws firmly planted in the glasses, you can siphon little honey into each one of the straws and sink them deep into the honey that's settled at the bottom of the drink. You need to stir the mocktail gently as you consume it sip by sip.

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