I like jelly, slimy and squidgy as it is and I am not ashamed of it. I know it’s the slimy quality that most people find icky but it’s the same sliminess that makes it very endearing for jelly fans alike me; please correct me if I am wrong.
It’s also one of those really traditional English hangovers that India took to rather well – jelly with custard was the dessert at the end of every lunch buffet, jelly and ice cream was served as part of wedding reception dinners, it was a favoured club food among other club classics and then there would be those lucky Sundays when moms would make it – custard, jelly and fresh fruits and those few minutes after lunch would be the happiest minutes you’ve ever had as a kid.
I would stand next to my mother when she unmoulded the jelly to witness the moment of truth myself. Some days weren’t happy jelly days as they won’t set and some days were fantastic jelly days because as they were unmoulded, they sat soft, firm and wobbly on a plate, all at the same time.
I understand why it was so popular back in the day – there is nothing much to making a jelly really. You buy readymade jelly crystals and follow the instructions on the box or you infuse powdered gelatin in your favourite fruit juice. But somewhere after realizing that gelatin which is a key ingredient in making jelly comes from by-products of animals, jelly consumption became smaller and smaller and then it was dooms day for jelly, as far as India was concerned.
People are trying to revive it now though, thanks to ingredients like agar/China grass. I wanted to revisit my childhood days, experience that sort of uncertainty – will it set, won’t it set, did I add the right amount of gelatin, will it be firm yet wobbly, so on and so forth. After 10 minutes of prep and overnight refrigeration, it set pretty as a picture.
- 250 ml (1 cup) grape juice
- 30 ml kirshwasser or cherry brandy (you can substitute with cherry juice)
- 50 g (3 heaped tbsp) caster sugar
- ½ heaped tbsp powdered gelatin or agar
Makes 4 portions
Bring grape juice, kirshwasser and sugar to boil in a saucepan, stirring till the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and add the gelatin/agar and keep whisking until gelatin dissolves. Bring to room temperature. Pour prepared jelly liquid into the moulds (as seen above). If using gelatin, unmould after 3-4 hours. If using agar set for another couple of hours.