The aonla, variously written as awla or amla (Indian gooseberry) is a medium sized light green beautiful tree with an abundance of berrries in late autumn (November). These berries are like small billiard balls, pale green and translucent – hard with a big pit and six vertical furrows. They are sour and astringent (kasaila) in taste. The aonla has anti-oxidant properties and is very rich in Vitamin C (the rival of rosehips in the USA). It is an essential ingredient of all ayurvedic tonics including the legendary chyawanprash. But on account of its astringent taste it is not easy on the palate. So, since time immemorial grandmothers have tried various strategies to get their families to connsume this berry. The Aonla Murraba is a winner on this count.
The dish we will describe below can be called candied gooseberrry or gooseberry marmalade – we leave you to decide. After all as the bard (Shakespeare) said, what’s in a name, an aonla murraba by any other name would be just as healthy and delicious.
The ingredients for 25 to 30 pieces
1 kg Aonla (Indian Gooseberry)
1 kg sugar
5 cardamons in powdered form (optional).
Boil water in a large deep pan. Put the aonla in the boiling water, turn off the stove and cover the pan for 10 minutes. Then strain the aonla and put it aside. Now put the sugar in the pan with the aonla and cook on a low flame. Keep stirring until the sugar melts. This will take about 20 minutes. When the sugar and the aonla start simmering, turn the flame to high and cook for another 10 minutes stirring continuously. The aonla will change from amber green to golden browm and the sugar now constitutes a sticky syrup. Turn off the stove. Sprinkle cardamom powder. Leave the dish for a about 10 hours so that it cools. Store in a glass jar. Eat the aonla as is, or as a side dish with paratha or roti or naan. One aonla a day keeps the doctor away.