Wood Apple-Vanilla Smoothie ( A Western Take on Odisha's summer drink 'Bela Panna' )
Think summers. Think icecreams, kulfi, lemonades, lassi, pina colada, fruit punch and endless other tantalizing concoctions. But somewhere in a remote corner of the world, summer is the time when the air hangs heavy with the smell of ripened tropical fruits. Mangoes, jackfruits and even the wood apples carry a scent which can only be described as heady. While the first two are much more popular and find their way into multiple cuisines, the wood apple is mostly confined to Odisha. A sad thing given that it is endowed with innumerable health benefits.
The wood apple has an intoxicating scent that reminds one of an overripe mango. Not something for the faint hearted for sure. But the flesh is sweet and varies widely from plant to plant. Some fruits have a nice creamy pulp with very few seeds and fibers, and a rich tatse that can be described as akin to a mango shrikhand. But much less sweeter ofcourse. Others have an astringent taste, a profusion of seeds and so much fiber that extracting the juice becomes a challenging task.
Wood apple is posessesd with multiple health benefits like aiding digestion, purifying blood, removing toxins, controlling diabetes, good for liver and kidney, curing earaches and also boosting energy levels. Not surprisingly, the seasonal fruit is available during the summer months when there is an abundance of stomach related ailments. That's Mother Nature watching over us and giving us hints to stay healthy throughout the year.
Coming back to the recipe, it is adapted from the traditional drink or 'panaa'. In Odisha, 'panna' refers to a drink in which diary products like milk, yogurt and cottage cheese have been added. But I wanted a vegan version with a gourmet twist to it, hence I skipped the milk products and went for some lime, vanilla extract and honey.
Read on for the recipe -
Preparation Time - 20 mins
- Bael/wood apple
- lime juice
- a few drops of vanilla extract
- honey to taste
- ice cubes
- 2 tsp chia seeds (soaked for 2 hours)
For garnishing -
- vanilla beans
- colored sugar
Preparation - Break the shell of the wood apple on a hard surface and scoop out the ripe flesh.
Transfer the juice to a blender jar. Add lime juice, vanilla extract, honey and 1-2 ice cubes. Give it a quick buzz. Adjust consistency by adding water in required quantity.
Serving - Rub a little honey on the rim of the serving glass. Dip it in the colored sugar. Let it stand for a few minutes to dry. Repeat this step for all the glasses/
Pour the Bael smoothie into the glasses, add the chia seeds and garnish with a vanilla bean.
Check HERE for the traditional 'Bela Panaa' recipe !