Roopa Gulati talks about her love of summer fruits ahead of her month-long themed residency
Even if the weather suggests otherwise, Borough Market’s show of seasonal fruit leaves us in no doubt that summer has hit its stride. It’s reassuring to see the annual appearance of such favourites as sweet strawberries, plump cherries, gooseberries and currants. Nothing makes for sunny optimism more than a bowl of simply prepared fruit.
In the 1970s, mum and I spent Saturday afternoons throughout summer baking batches of cakes to christen her new chest freezer. I’d line up sponges on the dining table and pile them with a mile-high ruff of whipped cream. We’d then spoon sweetened gooseberries over one layer, cherry compote over the other and a heap of strawberries over the third. My role was to secure the second sponge layer in place before the fruit skidded off the cream.
Emboldened by our messy culinary success, we soon extended our hand to pavlovas crowned with saucy berries, summer pudding, jams, chutneys, and exotic fruit salads. Summer pudding remains an annual fixture even today—it’s a ritual as important to me as the tradition of baking Christmas cake.
Over the next month I’ll be sharing my love of summer fruits—not just those grown on home turf, but from farther afield too. My first demonstration on 7th June is a celebration of tropical Indian mangoes, of which there are more than 500 types. We’ll be sampling different varieties, from the seriously sour to those prized for their honey-like sweetness.
I’ll be making Indian chutney with seasonings from Spice Mountain and will serve hake with a Thai-style mango and mint dressing. For dessert, we’ll sink our spoons into chilli-speckled sorbet partnered with cumin shortbread, and an indulgent mango and white chocolate cream. If you fancy taking a box of mangoes home, check out the fruit sold at the Market’s many greengrocers.
Next up, on 14th June, a tryst with gooseberries. I first tasted these green berries in a school dinner crumble when I was six years old. Decades later, I can still conjure the shock of their eye-watering tartness. It took another two years to revisit them, but this time they were prepared with love (and enough sugar), and folded into a creamy fruit fool. I’ve never looked back.
Shedloads of sugar
Green gooseberries have a short season and tend to be at their best during June and early July. Although they usually need shedloads of sugar to bring out their lovely citrusy flavour, the softer pink varieties, which appear towards the end of the season, can be eaten raw.
I’ll be updating my cherished childhood gooseberry fool during this demonstration, and we’ll also tuck into gooseberry and almond cakes. Savoury dishes get star billing too, with mackerel paired with sweet-sour gooseberry sauce and a pork salad dressed with sweetened berries seasoned with popped mustard seeds.
Later in the month we’ll continue our sweet and savoury culinary adventure with black, red and white currants and cherries. Highlights include a traditional summer pudding served with lashings of clotted cream, kid goat meatballs cloaked in blackcurrant glaze, and a redcurrant and passionfruit coulis matched with rose meringues.
Join Roopa for tips, tastings and recipes every Thursday in June in the Market Hall, 1-2:30pm