Zesty & Zingy

“The New Year has brought with it a new vista for me,” says Mandaar Sukhtankar.  “Mounds of oranges on my daily drive to work.  With their pleasant orange colour and their warm demeanour makes me feel all comforted, and I am reminded of my childhood.”  The oranges, this season, have been great and the markets are flooded with this wonderful fruit.  They have a dual taste profile —— from a sourness that can make you wink to a sweetness that fills your cheeks to sometimes a ‘perfect tango’ of sweet and sour.
There are two types of oranges, the ones with the loose skins and the ones whose peel is a snug fit.  Some skinned ones can be way sweeter than the snug ones.  A glossy sheen is an indicator of a good fruit, going by the oils in its skin.  On scratching an orange, a fresh ‘zesty zingy’ smells tells you that you have a good one in your hand.  Oranges lend themselves to many dishes.  
Ingredients : (makes 1 small cake) 125 grams butter, 125 grams castor sugar, 2-eggs, 125 grams refined flour, 1tsp baking powder, 1tsp warm orange juice, 1 No. grated rind of orange. 
Method : Pre-heat the oven to 180 C.  Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the orange rind and continue mixing.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a table-spoon of flour with the 2nd egg.  After it is mixed, pour in the remaining flour and mix in the orange juice.  Bake in a moderate oven at 180 C.  The cake will spring back when lightly pressed when done.  Remove and allow to cool.  Spread butter icing on the cooled cake.  Decorate with peeled and seeded orange segments. 
Ingredients —– 12 firm-skinned oranges, 450 grams granulated sugar, 1 pint water. 
Method : Peel the rind thinly of one orange with a potato peeler.  Shred into very fine strips and keep to decorate.  Peel the other oranges along with the pith.  Then peel the orange segments and arrange them in a pretty serving dish.  Leave in a cool place.  Place sugar and water in a pan over gentle heat.  Dissolve the sugar and bring the syrup to a boil, till it begins to turn a light gold.  Remove from heat.  Add another half a pint of water and return to low heat to dissolve the caramel.  When a little cool, pour over the oranges and leave for at least three hours, to allow the caramel to penetrate.  Sprinkle the shredded orange rind over it just before serving. 
Ingredients —- 12 firm-skinned oranges, 450 grams granulated sugar, 1 pint water. 
Method —– Scrub the oranges well and cut into quarters, remove seeds from 2 large Valencia oranges and 3 small lemons.  Soak the fruit for 24 hours in 11 cups of water.  Remove the fruit and cut into very small thin shreds.  Return them to the same water and boil for an hour.  Add 8 cups of sugar and boil till the juice forms a jelly when tested.
——– Mandaar Sukhtankar ( executive chef at The Park, Hyderabad)

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