With the onset of winter comes a seasonal abundance of citrus fruits in India – oranges, sweet limes, grapefruit and more. While nothing quite beats a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast, their juicy pulp also lends itself to many a sweet and savoury creations.
Whether used as a main ingredient or a complementary flavour, oranges can play a versatile role in cooking. Their flavour profile works well in both – sweet and savoury dishes, since their tangy, citrusy taste can uplift a wide range of recipes. Not only does the vibrant, zesty flavour of oranges add brightness to dishes, but they also enhance and balance the other flavours in a recipe. The natural acidity in oranges can tenderize meats, add depth to sauces and even cut through rich or fatty components in a dish, providing a refreshing contrast. Orange zest, in particular, also provides a concentrated burst of citrus flavour without the acidity, making it perfect for baked goods, marinades and dressings. The vitamin C and antioxidant-packed citrus fruit also offers health benefits and nutrients that can elevate the taste and nutritional value of multiple recipes.
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Make your own homemade orange marmalade by simmering sliced oranges with sugar and water until thickened to spread on toast, as a cake filling or paired with cheese for a delightful treat. Marmalade tends to have a chunkier texture compared to jam, allowing the zesty flavours of the fruit to shine through without overpowering it with the ratio of sugar being higher. Marmalades are also a great way to preserve and increase the longevity of seasonal fruits, where you can use thin tendrils of the zest to amplify the flavours.
Orange Glazed Chicken
A popular Chinese takeout option that can be recreated at home, make a zesty orange glaze by simmering orange juice, soy sauce, honey and a dash of ginger to brush over pieces of fried chicken. Using boneless pieces of chicken thigh that is coated with corn starch and deep-fried before being tossed in this sweet-tangy-garlicky glaze, makes for a great accompaniment to fried rice or noodles – or even plain rice, for when you’re craving a delicious meal.
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Create a moist and flavourful cake by incorporating freshly squeezed orange juice and zest into a classic almond cake batter. This tea time cake, although best eaten on its own when warm, also tastes delicious as a sweet ending to a meal, when paired with some soft whipped cream. Soak any leftover orange-almond cake in some citrus-based liqueur and layer with cream and fresh fruit to make a delicious winter trifle.
Santre Ka Kheer
Spike the classic Indian rice pudding with the goodness of sweet, juicy oranges for a sweet ending to your meal, that is best enjoyed cold. A popular Bengali and Assamese delicacy, thick rice pudding that is slow-cooked for a couple of hours, is flavoured with chopped up segments of orange and enjoyed during the winter season, especially on fasting days. Garnish with chopped almonds and pistachios for some texture, colour and crunch.
Orange Quinoa Salad
Create a vibrant salad by mixing cooked quinoa with segments of oranges, chopped almonds, fresh herbs like mint or parsley and a simple vinaigrette made with orange juice, olive oil, vinegar and a pinch of chilli flakes. Since quinoa doesn’t particularly have a flavour of its own, using bright flavours like oranges and herbs can enhance its appeal – both aesthetically and flavour-wise. Bulk up your salad with some grilled tofu or fish, or even roasted vegetables like pumpkin, bell peppers and sweet potatoes.
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Combine thinly sliced oranges with slices of roasted beetroot, red onions and feta cheese for a refreshing salad. Add in some pickled onions and microgreens for colour as well as to offset the tart-sweet flavours of its two key ingredients. Loaded with antioxidants, fibre as well as colourful to look at, this salad makes for an eye-catching start to a meal or a light lunch for one. Swap the beetroot with other vegetables that have a sweet undertone – think carrots, pumpkin, squash and more.