Don’t you love the lustrous deep velvety magenta sauce too? Doesn’t that make this delicious Blueberry–Strawberry compote look more gorgeous? And doesn’t this all set up a festive mood like it does for us all the time?
Today is Raksha Bandhan, the Indian festival that celebrates sibling love, the bother-sister relationship, and a lifelong bond of togetherness. It is the day siblings vow to protect the other and worship and pray for each other’s long life, happiness and prosperity. The silky embellished threads of love are symbolically tied on the brother’s wrist by his sister, and the day is celebrated with sweets, treats, gifts and happiness. Bengalis would generally consider “Bhai phota” (called Bhai dooj in Hindi, another festival that celebrates the bother-sister bond) to be more significant. It is one of the main festivals that they observe. Therefore, culturally, Raksha Bandhan does not come across to them to be as important as the other.
However, just as everyone else who grows away from their native, my family absorbed a lot from the north and made most of it’s festivities, their own. Like a new color would diffuse into water and get even. Baba would always tell us, “preserve the good things in your heart that’re yours…and keep imbibing new goodness on your way!” So, we grew up giving equal significance to Rakhi and Bhai Phota. The beauty of coexistence, you see!
I have a younger brother and I fondly call him Bhai. Since ever, I’ve either tied Rakhi on his wrist myself, or when away, I’d send him one, from wherever I was on this day. As was the case in several recent years, I am half-way across the globe, away from him today. I did ship him a Rakhi last month. One that he would tie on his wrist without me this morning. I visited him in March this year. March because it worked best for us and was a feasible time. However, on Rakhi, I always feel like running back to him. To see Bhai, hug him, argue with him, frown at him — our idea of sibling love and being with each other! We’ve always been this weird — like one minute, we’d want to strangle the other and then the next minute, we’ll be glued together inseparably. We are how we are, and we love the other dearly for that! Not that I don’t think of him the other days. In fact, I believe in celebrating kinship all year round, lifelong! But come this day and it just feels so drab without him around. I miss him a lot much more!
No matter how far we may have come in our lives and no matter how far apart in this world we may live, nothing changes the fact that he and I shall always remain together, locked in time. That he and I began our journeys in life together, rowing through the waters on the same boat. That he and I set our first baby steps together on earth, held each other and learnt how to laugh. And that this life and destiny shall always keep us connected with each other, geography irrespective!
In northern parts of India, on Rakhi, it is customary that the brothers gift their sisters a little something as a token of love. And Bengali traditions (at least what I have known and seen in my family) have it for the older sibling to gift the younger. Now if the rules are to be followed right, then every Rakhi Bhai owed me one. However, younger siblings being the cute little devils they are, know how to crawl out their ways! And he would take a gift from me on both occasion — on Bhai Phota, as well as on Rakhi. And my little goody bag that he is, I had always happily let him do that. Nonetheless, Rakhi’s is a very happy day. And I would not let a sister’s sibling separation anxiety take over this post today.
Rakhi rituals have a lot to do with sweets. The sweetness of a relationship reinforced and realized, definitely calls for sweet treats. Celebration of Rakhi also marks exchange of sweets by the siblings. On every distant Rakhi, so far, I’ve been ordering chocolates, sweets and nuts to be delivered to Bhai without fail. However, I’ve broken my trend this time. I haven’t sent him a packet of sweet for today. Because he and I are controlling our sugar intake these days and wish clean eating for each other.
Here’s wishing the same for all siblings celebrating Rakhi across the Nation today. I am sharing a super easy, a delicious homemade Blueberry–Strawberry Compote . So, to a, well almost guilt-free Rakhi. One of the things I make often on big-J’s frequent requests is fresh mixed berry compote. She absolutely loves this gorgeous sauce and eats it on top of her pancakes, waffles, crackers, toasted bread, with yogurt, in smoothies, milk shakes, with almost everything that this little girl can think of having in her breakfast and dessert menu. You’d adore this compote with these Whole Wheat Pancakes. The sauce sure uses some sugar in the making, but I’ve discovered that it’s the easiest way of getting the J sisters and us consume more blueberries plus strawberries in a single serving and finishing it all up more quickly!
The berries are one of nature’s best superfoods and provides all it’s mighty goodness to us. Together they are quite the exceptional nutrition and the kind of treat, one may need for a summer festivity. And just as how the berries are wrapped and soaked in love and they both soften together into a delightfully healthy sweet treat….may all siblings be also joined at their hearts and minds and together radiate out those extraordinary rays of love, light, laughter, happiness, peace, respect, harmony and everything optimistic to make this world a teensy bit better.
May everyone have a blessed, healthy and BERRY bright day, today!
Makes about 2 US Cups full
- 1/2 lb (about 8 oz or 250 gms) fresh Strawberries
- 1/2 pint or 1/2 lb fresh (about 8 oz or 250 gms) Blueberries
- 5 tbsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp fresh Lime Juice
- 1/2 tsp all-purpose flour or corn starch (optional)
- Wash the Blueberries. Wash the strawberries and remove the leaves. Quarter each strawberry.
- In a small bowl mix the all purpose flour or corn starch in about 1/2 tbsp water. Keep aside for use later.
- In a deep pan, add all listed under ingredients, except the flour/starch. Cover cook the pan contents on low-medium heat for about 4 to 5 mins.
- Remove the lid. Cook the fruits uncovered for another 3 minutes or until the fruits are done nice and mushy.
- Now add the flour or starch mixture into the pan. Stir to mix. Give the sauce a few seconds to thicken slightly. Take off from heat.
- The sauce would thicken as it cools down. Refrigerate and serve chilled with baked breakfast items or at the end of your dinner as a sweet treat or alongside your favorite dessert. My kids love to eat it as is too!!
For mildly sweet compote, add 3 tbsp sugar. Skip the sugars for a sugarless strawberry sauce. Alternatively, you could use sugar substitutes also in this recipe. If using honey, add it after taking the sauce off the stove, since heat destroys some natural honey properties. Adding brown sugar in place of white, enhances and deepens the sauce color. Add more lime juice for a tangier punch. You may substitute the lime juice with some orange juice too. For yummy individual berry sauce, double the quantity of the berry prescribed in this recipe and follow the steps — that’s how I do my strawberry sauce and my blueberry sauces. If you’d like a mixed berry compote, add a blend of your favorite berries, keeping the total quantity of fruit same as in recipe, then proceed with cooking instructions. For a yummy Blueberry–Strawberry Coulis, follow the cooking instructions. Then, at the end, puree the compote in a blender to get a smooth velvety rich Coulis!