The cherry harvest this year in India was badly hit due to the vagaries of the weather. This delicious fruit has always had a luxurious connotation. The market demand is being met with imported varieties. Some of the best cherries in the world come from farms in America’s Pacific Northwest region and are available at luxury supermarkets and premium fruit sellers across India. These cherries are large, juicy and perfectly sweet and can be recognised instantly by their deep mahogany-red colour.
Northwest Cherries from the US are in Indian markets right now. A superfood with numerous nutritional benefits, the cherries are great to have on their own, but are even better when incorporated into your favourite dishes—as Celebrity Chef Vicky Ratnani showed.
The current crop of cherries was launched at an exclusive event at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in New Delhi. Ron Verdonk, Minister-Counselor for Agricultural Affairs, Embassy of the United States of America, officially launched the campaign in India at the event. Verdonk remarked, “Food is a very important part of India–US trade, and I am really pleased that freshly-picked cherries from our Pacific Northwest are now added to the basket. I am confident that Indian consumers will love the quality and taste of these cherries that are considered amongst the best in the world.”
Not only delicious and evocative of luxury, cherries are also coveted for their numerous nutritional and health benefits. Present at the launch was Kavita Devgan, a leading dietitian, holistic health consultant and eminent writer, who extolled the virtues and health benefits of the fruit. “Cherries are a delicious and nutritious powerhouse,” she said, “Packed with antioxidants, fibre, and vitamins, they not only tantalise the taste buds but also nourish the body. Incorporating these vibrant cherries into your diet is a delightful way to support your health and well-being.”
Apart from being packed with essential nutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, cherries are also a superfood and can counter many diseases. With their high antioxidant content, cherries can help combat oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. With their anti-inflammatory properties, which come from the anthocyanins and quercetin present in them, cherries can help alleviate conditions associated with inflammation, such as arthritis (especially gout) and muscle soreness. Additionally, cherries are linked to improved sleep quality due to their natural melatonin content. Consuming cherries can help regulate your sleep cycle and promote restful nights. Cherries are also beneficial in diabetes, cancer, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. Truly a superfood!
But the highlight of the launch event was undoubtedly the masterclass by Celebrity Chef Vicky Ratnani where he revealed the magic that can be done with cherries in the kitchen. He rustled up an Ancient Grains Khichdi made with millets and cherries—so apt given this is the UN International Year of Millets. The cherries served as the souring agent in the dish. A khichdi with cherries? Who would have thought? But in Ratnani’s skilled hands, the result was lip-smackingly delicious. Ratnani also made delicious paneer sliders which he served with a tangy and spicy cherry sauce. This just goes to show how versatile cherries are as kitchen ingredients. They also pair well with meat dishes like lamb and poultry. And, of course, they are great in classic desserts like pies and crumbles.
Crucially, this is the first season after India removed the fumigation protocol requirement for US cherries. Fumigation reduces the shelf life of perishable goods. This means that these delicate cherries will now have a longer shelf life and can now be made available across many more Indian cities beyond the major metros. Now that’s the cherry on the cake!