Amla Murabba: Nothing ‘Bitter-Sweet’ About This Combination of Amla, Sugar Syrup And Winter
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The importance of a wide terrace becomes even more pronounced at the peak of Indian winters. It is very common in India to hit the terrace in the afternoon during this time for varied activities. You can lay your chatai and enjoy your siesta, or munch on groundnuts while bickering endlessly about the chilly weather, or set some pickles and murabbas. The value of a sunny afternoon in December and January seldom goes underappreciated in North India.  

The tradition of making pickles and murabbas goes back centuries, and it is rather infamous for the cumbersome process or the ‘labour of love’ as most grannies would phrase it. Pickles demanded sincerity, but back in the days, pickling also used to be an efficient way to prolong the shelf-life of foods, especially in regions where food scarcity was a major concern, like Rajasthan. Fruits or vegetables would be fermented with lots of masalas, these ‘achaar’ would also be carried for long journeys and conquests. Now the thing with achaar and murabbas is that it needs to be a seasonal affair. Nowadays, you can enjoy both mango and carrot pickle at the same time thanks to the pre-packaged bottles, but traditionally, it was just not possible. Which is why you grew up associating achar and murabbas with their season. And amla Murabba was that winter treat you wouldn’t mind waiting a whole year for.  

The Magic of Amla

Just like your regular winter pickles, a good amla murabba also requires your best handi, best amlas or Indian gooseberries, the best homemade masala and copious amounts of sunshine. This Murabba is more like a thick relish, sticky and sweet, and is replete with many health benefits too. Amla has a pride of place in Ayurveda. It contains 20 times more vitamin C than an orange. Loaded with antibacterial, antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties, it helps ward off the risk of cold, flu or fever that are so common in the season. Besides this amla is also incredible for skin and hair  

Making And Storing Amla Ka Murabba

But why is this sweet relish only prepared in winter? That’s because you find the best amla in winter. These amlas are firm yet juicy. They have a sharp bitter and acerbic taste, which is aptly by the sugary syrup it is preserved with. It is kept in the sun or in a room in a dry, airtight container till the syrup becomes thick and almost dark brown in colour and the amlas soften. The longer you preserve the amlas, the more steeped they are with flavour, so patience is really the key here.  

In this recipe, the sugar syrup is also flavoured with cardamom and saffron for an aromatic touch. When you boil the amla, remember to prick it with a fork, this will allow the syrup to seep in and also help amlas boil faster.  

The recipe in itself is not as complicated, if you are willing to give the time and attention it deserves you are in for a spectacular treat.