Plump, juicy and nutritious, Chilean Cherries have made their way to India. We were introduced to the delicious fruit at Delhi’s renowned restaurant, Indian Accent, where cherries were incorporated in delicious dishes by Chef Manish Mehrotra
Words & Photographs: Ambica Gulati
These sweet cherries live up to their tag line of “Cherry-sh every moment”. While the cherries from Kashmir, India, are red and small, cherries from Chile are deep red, bordering on purple, and big. Talking about the nutritious value of the fruit, Juan Angulo M, Ambassador of Chile in India, said, “Chile’s climate really helps the produce. There is a huge difference in temperature between the day and night. And the cherries are sweet and help in boosting immunity, which is so needed in today’s times. The country is in the southern hemisphere and has different geographies to experience.”
Chile is among the largest exporters of cherries in the world. The cherries have reached India via the Chilean Cherry Committee of the Chilean Fruit Exporters’ Association (ASOEX), supported by the Chilean Embassy in India and the office of the Chilean Trade Commission–ProChile. They will be available on e-commerce platforms and select retail outlets.
Why eat Chilean cherries?
- Taste: Sweet, soft, juicy, rich red flesh
- Health benefits: Source of vitamin C and potassium, small amount of vitamin A, iron and calcium. Going by the ancient physicians of Greece, they used the fruit to treat epilepsy. Folk medicine men say it alleviates gout pain.
- Season: From November to January, apt for the year-end celebrations, as Indian cherries are found in summer during June-July. You get to eat fresh fruit the year through.
- Calories: One cup of raw sweet cherries has about 90 calories.
- Best eaten fresh
- In jellies and jams, cakes, smoothies, with salted almonds, raisins, chocolate chip cookies
- As a fruit salad
- Combine with brandy
- Blend in sour cream or yogurt
- Cherry soup
- Add to ice creams , pies, crumbles, whip up a salsa with herbs
Cherry dishes crafted by Chef Manish Mehrotra
“Cherries have traditionally been used in pahadi dishes of India; jams and cakes are western cuisine. When deciding upon the dinner, I thought about the many ways it would to go with Indian dishes. So there is Cherry lemonade or shikanji made of fresh cherry pulp, cherry chutney with quinoa dahi vada, cherry pickle, cherry with dark chocolate,” says the Chef, who has been hailed as ‘the most exciting modern Indian chef in the world’. Not just vegetarian, cherry was used in non-vegetarian dishes too. The steamed duck confit gujiya came with stewed Chilean cherry and wild rice. And there was cherry sorbet as a palate cleanser.
Not just the cooking, the art of plating was excellent too. Edible flowers and fresh seasonal produce, it was truly ‘a cherry on the top’ on chilly winter night. Besides, it being a sit down dinner with bite-sized portions, there was no wastage. We downed it all with wines from Chile.
Cherry has inspired poets and painters–The fruit’s beauty captured perfectly by 17th century Dutch still-life artists. English poet Robert Herrick is the best known for his song, Cherry Ripe, but he wasn’t the first to write on the fruit.
Cherries symbolize the cycle of life—birth, death and rejuvenation. Across cultures, they also stand for peace and friendship. In Japan, the Samurai warriors, decorated their war equipment with cherry blossoms before going to the battlefield. Japan also honors its political allies by sending gifts of cherry trees.