Saturday, 23 February 2013

Ular Nellikkai - Gooseberry Fruit Leather

                               Our arms spread wide, holding on to the edges of a thick bedspread, heads titled above, we stand there waiting to catch the falling berries from the tall green tree with pretty, tiny little leaves and drooping branches, heavy with clusters of juicy and golden gooseberries. Not wanting to let the fruit hit the ground, we move from side to side trying our best to catch every one of them, but they seem to evade the cloth and fly in unpredictable directions, as the fruits are shaken off from the tree, using a long pole attached with a scythe.

                  Gathering the best and the handpicked gooseberries, we sit down to make nellikkai murabba, under the careful instructions of my father and my uncle ( happens to be their mother's recipe). We start pricking holes using a sharp wooden tool that takes a few painful laborious hours to complete, which is then soaked in lime ( sunnambu) water before it is made into a murabba in jaggery syrup. This is a yearly routine, that we followed every January - February, the peak time, when the gooseberries reached their full size and were ready to be harvested.

                      Gooseberries are a wonder fruit, when in abundance, needs to be preserved, as all of them cannot be consumed in a short period. Even after drying them, powder them, preserving them, we were still left with a lot of fruits. Over the years I adapted the recipe and have made murabbas using sugar and honey, But when I received  a bagful of gooseberries from this year's harvest, I decided to try something else other than murabba and ended making a beautiful fruit leather and a jar of gooseberry jam, but, I am not done with it yet, as I am still in possession of  a few kilos of gooseberries waiting to be preserved in honey.

        It's an old tree that once produced fruits the size of a golf ball, but now shrunken in size, they taste slightly more bitter and sharp, which explains the need for the below mentioned quantity of honey and prunes that has gone in to this fruit leather. Adjust the sweet ingredients if you are using the large sized gooseberries that you get in the market, which might be a little sweeter than the medium sized ones.

Gooseberry     300 g
Honey              1/2 cup
Prune               10 (pitted and dried)
Ginger              1 inch piece
Water               1/2 cup

Rinse and chop the gooseberries into pieces. ( The seeds can be dried, powdered and used in shikakkai to rinse hair)
Blend the chopped gooseberries and the ginger and mince them finely.
Add water and blend until it is pureed to a soft paste.
Strain the puree and collect the juice( about 1 1/4 cup).
Combine gooseberry juice and honey and bring to a boil.
Puree the prunes and add to the boiling juice.
Stir on high heat continuously until it thickens like a jam.

Line a baking sheet with baking paper and grease lightly or spray.
Spread the mixture on the lined baking sheet as thin as possible.
Bake at 40*c for about 8 to 12 hours.
The drying time varies depending upon the thickness of the leather. Mine took 12 hours.
If the fruit leather is ready it will peal off easily from the paper and will not be sticky.

( Since I didn't know how to call this in tamil exactly, I came up with a name which may not sound right, but I tried my best !)


  1. Would like to know how to make jam, pickles etc.


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Hiya all,
Finally on this day of october the 1st, 2012, I have decided to include the comment form, after a long gap of two years. But, I am going to be a bit selfish here and keep all those nice and lovely things that is said for me and only me to cherish and will be sharing any queries that requires clarifications and your experience about the food if you have tried my recipes. So, drop in a word if you have anything to say and thanks a lot for stopping by.
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