Oranges. So much part of our short-lived winters. In Haflong (Dima Hasao in Assam) where I grew up, our stock came from Jatinga, a village about 8 kilometres away from the main town. The cultivation had started long before I was born. Because growing up in the 60s and 70s, our winter memories are about sitting in the sun and gorging on luscious oranges.
Over the years, the orange cultivation was hit by disease so cultivation started in other areas of our district. Nowadays, oranges from Hadingma area are doing well and this recipe used oranges from the same.
One of life’s orange-eating pleasures come in a bowl like this. Chilled. Beneath the soft blanket of thickened milk, sweetened with sugar, or condensed milk, lie segments of the fruit. Papery skin and pips removed, segmented further into scoop-able bits. As you taste a spoonful, you get a hint of cardamom and tejpatta (Indian bay leaves), a hint of sweetness from the milk, the delightful citrus taste, and a little crunch from toasted nuts (if using). For this recipe I left out the nuts but it was good.
- 11/2 litres milk (I used Amul Taaza)
- Condensed milk as per taste
- 2 pods of cardamom, crushed
- 3-4 tejpatta leaves, bruised
- 3 large oranges, peeled, papery skin and pips removed from all segments
- Toasted and slivered nuts (optional)
Place a heavy-bottomed pan on the stove. Pour the milk into it. Place a ladle in the centre so that the milk does not boil over. Put the gas on low flame and let the milk thicken. Add the crushed cardamoms and the tejpatta. After 40 minutes or so, the quantity will be reduced to a little less than half. It is important to stir at regular intervals so that the milk does not catch at the bottom.
At this point you can discard the leaves and the pods of cardamom. Add condensed milk and check the sweetness. Give it a good stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Take the pan off the heat and let the thickened milk cool down.
Once the mixture comes to room temperature, add the prepared oranges. Mix well and chill in the fridge for about an hour. Serve in bowls or ramekins. The toasted nuts can be added before serving. Here I did not add any.
This is a refreshing and light dessert. Winter meals tend to be heavy and this is just right to finish off a heavy lunch or dinner!