A foreign fruit

When we moved to England, we moved away from all things familiar. It was a different piece of land, which grew different things. The smells in the air were more quiet. The sounds on the street were better behaved. The weather was cooler. People paler. Voices softer.

I loved the newness. My first year passed in a blur, exploring as much as I could, as quickly as I could. The first thing I did when I woke up every morning was call Ma and Baba in India, and once that was done, I didn’t miss much else.

But I miss India now. And often with a suddenness that stops me short. I could be crossing the street, when I’m hit with an intense need for an egg-chicken roll. These needs have absolutely no sense of timing.

I miss the impatient honk of a car. I miss clothes delivered by the dhobi on Sunday mornings, starched and ironed, the whites a little blue. I miss dusty window panes that you can scribble on. I miss newspapers at the door every morning. I miss haggling. I miss sitting around food, with friends. I miss the rush and the rudeness of the streets. I miss loud laughs. And colour.

Reds. Yellows. Oranges. They remind me of India. Nectarines, apricots and plums lying next to each other in the market stall remind me of India. A few years ago, fresh apricots and nectarines were as foreign to me as I was to this country. But we met halfway, the fruits and I.

Here they are, comfortable in a cold Indian broth. Stewed sweet, with cinnamon, star anise and black peppercorns. It’s the perfect end to a summer meal – sweet and cool, light and fruity.

Stone fruit stew

Ingredients

1 apricot, cubed
1 nectarine, cubed
1 plum, cubed
(There was a strawberry lying around, so I threw it in too)
1/2 cup demerara sugar
1 1/2 cup water
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1/2 tsp crushed black peppercorns
A 2-inch stick of cinnamon
1 star anise

Mix the water and sugar and put it to boil. When it starts boiling, add the cinnamon, star anise and the whole black peppercorns.
Let the syrup reduce to half, then take it off the heat.
Add the lemon juice and the crushed peppercorns.
Then add the fruits, and cover.
When it cools completely, put it in the refrigerator.

Serve cold at the end of a meal. Or enjoy on its own.

Serves 2-3