Want To Add Some Summer Flavor To Your Fruit Chaat? Grill Your Fruit

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Ramadan in the summer means grilling for iftar. With sunset so late in the day you have plenty of time to read your daily Qur’an and still cook up some dinner on a hot grill.

But meat and vegetables aren’t the only items that can be grilled. Fruit does awesome over a nice hot fire, too. And while daydreaming about food while fasting (which, hey, who doesn’t?), Allah placed a thought in my head: why not make fruit chaat, a Ramadan classic, but with grilled fruit?

And, so, I did. Following a guide on how to grill fruit from one of my food Shaykhs, Alton Brown, I grilled up a batch of fruit and had it prepared into fruit chaat just like normal. Only this time, it had a hint of smokey, charry, caramelized goodness along with it. Sound like a summery dish you want to add to your Ramadan iftar? Here’s how it’s done.

Step 1: Cut and prepare fruit into wedges and skewers

[Photography: Saqib Shafi]

[Photography: Saqib Shafi]

Fruits come in oblong shapes and sizes. Not only do we want to prepare them to hit a grill surface evenly, we also want to expose their flesh so they can caramelize on the hot grates, adding char and sweetness. As Alton Brown suggests, cut firm fruits in half, take care with soft fruits, and skewer any small finger sized fruit. Oranges would work great, we just didn’t have any. Bananas would probably get too mushy, so we added those to our chaat fresh.

Step 2: Preheat your grill until it’s really hot

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Charring the fruit is the key. But with all that water on the surface of fruit flesh, it’s going to take a lot of heat to do it. With charcoal, a nice medium-hot fire should do the trick. If using a gas grill, preheat your grill nice and hot, at least seven and up to ten minutes. Trust me.

 Related: How to clean a gas grill so the burners give clean, blue flames with no flare-ups.
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Step 3: Lightly oil fruit with neutral oil

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A clean and seasoned grill won’t have food stick to it. But fruits so contains sugars which may want to stay stuck to your grates while grilling. A light brushing or spraying of a neutral flavored oil like vegetable or canola oil (avoid olive oil, as it has a lower smoke point) can help keep your fruit stick-free, and promote browning.

Step 4: Grill until charred and just softened

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Place the fruits on the super hot preheated grates and start grilling. The goal is to get char on these bad boys quickly, and your hot grill should do the trick.

Step 5: Remove done fruits as they finish

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There we go. Look at these guys. Each of them charring up to increase in flavor and slightly softened texture, as well. The fructose in the fruit has literally caramelized right in front of you. Even better if you find good in-season fruit extra sweet. SubhanAllah, how amazing is Allah simply by what He created?

Don’t get enamored by the Creator for too long, though. You want to remove each one of your wedges and skewers as they finish. Too much time on the grill and you’ll get mushy fruit. That’s why I only did one side for the softer fruit like peaches and plums until charred, but left firm fruit like pineapple stay on to pick up some more color. I also let the mangos stay on longer because they started in the front of this grill which is a little cooler than the back. Whatever your setup is, manage your fruit doneness accordingly.

Step 6: Prepare and serve the chaat just like you always do

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Here’s the easy part: just make your fruit chaat like always. Orange juice, salt, sugar, and spices? Go for it. Mango pulp fanatic? Go to town. Or my favorite, freshly squeezed lemon juice, sugar, salt and spices? Bismillah. The method is all yours, only now you have charred, caramelized fruit flavor added to your chaat.

A note on when to grill fruit for iftar

If you like your fruit chat super cold, you’ll want to grill your fruit earlier so you have time to cut and chill them in the fridge for a while. Otherwise, this fruit chaat will be a little warm when served. But that could be a good thing, and the way we served it at an iftar at my parents’ house. As my sister-in-law commented, eating a warm fruit chaat with slightly cooked and charred up fruit was kind of like eating cobbler.

Warm or cold, now you know how to grill fruit for some summer-style fruit chaat. Now get out there and grill some fruit. Your chaat will thank you.

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