I have started getting obsessed with spicy syrups on fruit, see this amazing recipe for Roasted pineapple carpaccio in a light syrup of lime, fragrant lemongrass, chili and mint.
A lot of cultures in the world use some combination of dry rub of chili powder, salt and lime, on fruit including India, Vietnam, Mexico and other Central American countries, see recipe for Persimmons with lime and chili. The dry rub adds that immediate pop of spice and flavor, but can tend to overpower the flavors of the fruit in excess.
Syrups on the other hand are delicate and balanced. It infuses the fruits and does not detract from the core flavors of the fruit, but rather enhances the flavors of the fruit. This fruit salad is no exception.
This is a beautiful and complex salad. You can essentially use any fruit of your choice, especially those that are currently in season. However, you want to use a combination of berries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or other, citrus, like pineapple, oranges or grapes, a melon of choice and some core fruits like pears and apples. Do not be limited to the fruit in this recipe, use lychees, kiwi, grapefruit, bananas, watermelon, or anything else in the market that is looking delicious or that you crave.
This salad has a variety of textures from the different fruit, but shines from the aromatic and spicy syrup. Macerating the fruit in syrup, allows the spices to infuse the fruit. This salad is simply spectacular. You can serve it as a dessert, but I have started serving it as an appetizer or as a palate cleanser in very small servings. The guests love the splash of sweet that breaks up the otherwise savory courses.
This is a wonderful cookbook on Bangladesh cuisine, filled with authentic recipes. The cuisine is very similar to Indian cuisine, but the dishes do have their specific nuances and flavors. I have just begun to cook from here and learn about the flavors, and you will see me cook from this book again, soon. I recommend this cookbook fro those who want to experiment with and learn from this cuisine.
For more recipes from this beautiful cookbook, click here.
For the chili-lime syrup:
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
Zest of 1 lime
1 fresh red chili, sliced thickly
For the salad:
1 cup mango or papaya, peeled and cubed
1 cup melon of any kind, cubed, peeled and cubed
1 cup pineapple, cut into 1/2 circles
2 apples, cubed
2 pears, cubed
1 pack strawberries, hulled and cut into 4 vertically
1 cup grapes, halved if desired
Juice of 1-2 limes
Mint, to garnish
Peel the rind of the lime with a potato peeler into large strips. Heat the water with the sugar, lime peel and chilies and simmer gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The sugars will melt and you should get a syrup that is beautifully flavored with the lime zest and spicy from the chilies. You can choose to strain the syrup, but I prefer to keep the peel and chilies in for visual effect.
Arrange the fruit on a large wide bowl so they look gorgeous. Garnish with the mint. 30 minutes before serving, add the chili-lime syrup and allow it to soak into the fruit. Toss at the table well and serve.