Citrus fruits have always been a weakness of mine. I simply cannot go one single day without my quotidian share of them. Be they limes, lemons, mandarins, kumquats, tangerines or those almost impossible to find kalamansi limes from the Philippines, I need my citrusy kick. But if there is one citrus fruit that I can comfortably rely on day after day, then that would have to be the humble orange. Due to the sheer ease in availability, the orange has become my de facto favourite citrus fruit.
But I guess my love for oranges could also be attributed to the fact that I would spend most of my Diwali vacations at my uncle’s sprawling bungalow on the outskirts of Nagpur. As India’s undisputed orange capital, Nagpur is a haven for orange lovers. Oranges are such a big deal here that there even is a Geographical Indication (GI) applied for the Nagpur orange. Much like the Amalfi lemon and the California pear.
It was on these few days’ vacations that all my orange obsessions would be indulged in to their fullest. Tall glasses of freshly squeezed orange juice (always with pulp!) would be the first thing I’d drink in the morning, to be followed by snacking on plump, whole oranges through the day.
Now, besides just the orange fruit, Nagpur is also the place where a delicious dessert made from oranges took birth almost half a century ago- The Orange barfi! Almost every halwai in the city has its own iteration.
Vacations done and I’d always come back home to Mumbai loaded with boxes of orange barfi to give to family and friends. Over the years, orange barfi became very easy to procure in almost every Indian city and so I began to rely less on my rather infrequent trips to Nagpur to keep up my stockpiles of it.
However, it was only very recently that I thought of shaking things up a bit and experimented with my very own recipe for it. Only here, I put my own spin on it by adding ground up cashew nuts to give it some body and texture. And far from overpowering it, the fragrant notes of powdered cardamom pods only enhances fruity goodness of the orange.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate summer than by whipping up a batch of orange barfi only to ‘demolish’ it in minutes. Can you?
Recipe by Raul Dias
Orange Barfi with Cashew Nut
- 3 tbsp ghee
- 1 cup ground cashew nuts
- 2 tbsp milk
- Half cup heavy cream
- Small pinch of cardamom powder
- Half cup fresh orange juice
- Half cup sugar
- 50 gm slivers of nuts (almonds, pistachio and cashew)
- Grease a rectangular metal tray or thali with a little ghee and keep aside to be used later.
- Pour the milk in a bowl, infuse it with the cardamom powder, give it a stir and keep aside for 5 minutes.
- Warm the heavy cream slightly and add the orange juice along with sugar. Give it a stir and keep it aside. Do not heat the heavy cream too much or else, the orange juice will curdle the cream.
- Take a heavy bottom pan and place it on medium heat. Pour the ghee and once the ghee melts, add the ground cashew nuts. Keep stirring constantly for 3 to 4 minutes and you will see the shade of the cashew powder darkens slightly.
- Pour the orange and cream mixture along with cardamom milk into the pan. Keep stirring for at least 7 to 10 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and you see the ghee separating at the sides of the pan. The consistency of the mixture will also thicken.
- Pour the entire mixture into the prepared tray or thali and press it down to form an even layer. Scatter the slivers of nuts over it and press them down.
- Allow to cool down to the room temperature for a while and then, keep it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight to set.
- Once set, with a serrated knife cut into square, rectangle or diamond shapes and serve.
About Raul DiasA Mumbai-based writer, Raul is an ardent devotee of the peripatetic way of life. When not churning out his food and travel stories at a manic pace, he can be found either hitting the road for that elusive story or in the company of his three dogs!