Chilli and Chunks.

A meal at my cousin’s last night meant a temporary halt to The Great Meringue Challenge, but business will resume in earnest soon enough, I promise.

In the meantime, back to my cousin’s meal: a homemade Indian feast in North London. After copious amounts of Cobra, poppadoms, curry and samosas, I was almost too full for afters – but not quite. My cousin’s new husband (cousin-in-law?) whipped out the stand-alone gas stove, and started to chop up a pineapple.

In this country, India’s not generally known for its sweet treats – we’re far too obsessed with bhajis and rogan josh. However, having lived out there for about 6 months, I assure you it probably should be. In fact, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, I doubt there’s anywhere better.

Who could resist a cool plate of Ras Malai – sugary light cheese balls soaked in cream and cardamom? Or, my personal favourite, Jalebi: hot, deep-fried tendrils of sugar, which ooze warm streams of syrup? In India, a trip to the confectioner’s does not mean boiled sweets and liquorice. It’s far more exciting than that. A haven for admirers of condensed milk, almonds, pistachios, cream, and all things soft and gooey.

Of course, they grow some impressive fruit out there too (papayas the size of your head, pulpy mangoes dripping with juice), and a freshly-chopped pineapple is as good a way to finish a meal as any.

I’d never had it like we had yesterday though. After chopping the fruit into chunks, my cousin-in-law made a caramel sauce, simmering vanilla-infused sugar with a few large knobs of butter. A generous tot of rum went in next – expertly ignited by the chef . Then came star anise, and some strands of freshly-chopped chilli. An exciting (surprising) addition.

This concoction was served in bowls; laid to rest on a cold bed of ice cream, which promptly softened under the heat of the fruit. The result? Light, juicy and mellow, with the occasional fiery zing. The perfect way to please a curry-filled stomach. And get back to India, minus the nine-hour flight.


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