A different way to use passion fruit – read on….
When we were setting up our terrace kitchen garden 4 years ago, I was insistent on having a passion flower climber to grow around the railings. The way the graceful leaves hang over the deck and produce those stunningly showy red passion flowers, was what I had in mind.
After some months, the saplings were procured and planted. It took a while to take off and then it started producing a few flowers. To my surprise, they were not red, as I had imagined they would be.
This was another variety and the flowers were white and purple, and the same stunning construct. Surely this made a few others very happy – the bees, the birds and the butterflies in the garden.
The arrangement of the passion flower, called ‘Espina de Cristo’ (Christ’s thorns) by Spanish missionaries who discovered the flower, has been said to have a sacred symbolism in Christianity.
Back to the garden tale, the climber then started fruiting. Given that passionfruits are sold nearly at the price of gold in the local supermarkets, I was super excited to have a free supply going at home. This variety possessed eye-scrunching tartness, so we waited patiently for the fruit to ripen and fall off. It would also sit in the fruit basket for a few more days, until I dared to cut it open.
The common use in South India, where it grows as a part of the kitchen garden in homes, is to make a ‘sherbet’ by adding lots of sugar to make up for the tartness and dilute with water. I did try that and I wasn’t a big fan of this ‘sarbat’. I also was way to busy to have the patience to bake a pavlova, on which passionfruit goes best as a topping.
Besides regularly distributing it to friends who will have it, I started adding it to my salads – the easiest, fuss-free way to put them to use! Since all salad dressings need to have a sour component, whisking in some of the passionfruit pulp instead of a vinegar or lemon juice, imparts a lovely fruity flavour to the dressing. Here’s the recipe for a mixed vegetable and fruit salad using a passionfruit dressing.