"The greatest Indian cook in Britain"Jay Rayner "The Observer"
"Cook with love. Love your cooking" Gita Mistry

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Grapes - an introduction

Grapes are my sweetie substitute. They are the same size and serve the same purpose. They are less messy to eat than mangoes, oranges, peaches and pineapples. And they are good for you.
I learned that when I was a little girl. Whenever I was ill I was allowed to lie on a couch in the kitchen under a blanket as my mum got on with her cooking. It was about the only time I was allowed to rest. At all other times she made sure I always had something to do. My father would come home from the mill. He would stroke my forehead and ask me whether there was anything I wanted. With one eye closed I would answer દ્રાક્ષ ("grapes"), red or black ones - not the green grapes that my mother would bring home when the housekeeping stretched to it.
My mum also gave me brandy which is made from grapes when I was ill. She heated it up in a stainless steel bowl with a long spout that she brought from India. I can't remember the name but I'll take a photo of it when I return to the topic as I surely will because it is one of the reasons why brandy is now my favourite tipple.
According to Wikipedia India is the tenth largest grape producer. Much of it is used in wine making. Indian wines were almost unknown in this country until a few years ago but now it is gaining international acclaim,you can even buy Ritu Viognier and Zampa Syrah from Waitrose.
But grapes are also cultivated in my native county as well as the land of my ancestors. Writing for The Guardian Simon Burnton described Yorkshire as "prime wine growing territory". Clearly one of the advantages of global warming, some of the vineyards such as the one at Holmfirth, are in spectacular Pennine countryside. There is even a winery within Leeds city limits.
Instead of a recipe I shall leave you with a couple of tips. When choosing grapes try to buy them loose. Pick up the bunch and give it a shake. If a lot of berries fall off you know that the bunch is over ripe and best  avoided. If you buy them you have eat them straight away because they won't keep. My other tip is that you can store grapes for ages by wrapping them in newspaper and keeping them in a cool dark place.
Why "Introduction"? It's because I shall return to this topic more than once. Next time I shall share my recipe for making fruit scones and some Indian recipes using dried green grapes.

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