In Hinduism, the bael or wood apple tree is considered sacred and belongs to the god Shiva. In Thailand, this symbolic tree represents Chai Nat Province and has always been planted in Thai households since the old days, due to its medicinal properties and nutritional benefits. Every part of the bael tree can be turned into something useful – its young leaves for instance, can be enjoyed as a salad. Its outer layer, roots, and trunk can be used for curing a cold as well.
The bael fruit is actually the most significant part. Green when raw, the fruit turns yellow and produces a distinct aroma once ripe. Its soft flesh comes with a delicious sweet flavour, which is a refreshing option for imbibing. Apart from enjoying the fruit’s freshness, it can be turned into dessert, like that of a bael fruit cake.
Its ripe fruits meanwhile can be further sweetened and enjoyed with an easy recipe. Just mix sugar and water together and heat them until the sugar dissolves. Then add sliced, ripe bael fruit and continue to stir until the pieces become cooked. Ripe bael fruits, once cut and dried or baked, star as the main ingredient of a beneficial bael drink.
The drink can be enjoyed either hot or cold. Those who fall in love with the scent of a bael fruit will love it even more as hot tea, since the aroma intensifies with heat. Iced bael juice also is a top choice for summer, for thanks to the fruit’s nature, it can quench thirst and reduce sweating.
- 6 pieces of sliced dry bael fruit
- 8 cups of water
- ¾ cup of sugar
- Small ice cubes
- 1 piece of dry bael fruit to decorate
- Clean the dry bael fruit pieces with water.
- Separately add water into a pot on medium heat. When the water boils, add the bael fruit pieces, keeping them in a full boil for 4-5 minutes.
- Lower the heat, then continue to simmer until the water turns darker and the bael fruit pieces soften and take on a lighter colour.
- Once the juice mixture happens, add sugar and continue to boil for a little while until the sugar dissolves.
- Turn off the heat and filter only the liquid. The rest of the bael fruit can be kept in the refrigerator for next time.
- Leave it to cool down for a while. Add ice cubes and decorate the glass with the dry bael fruit slice.
Before boiling the bael fruit, grill or stir-fry the fruit in low heat. This will give
a more intensified aroma to add depth to its flavour.