Bangladeshi Shatkora Citrus: Candied Peel, Cordial, Posset & Pectin

{please see comments section for updates/ corrections on lemon variety.}

A few weeks ago, a binge of bloggers* gathered in Drummond Street for a tasty, vegetarian, Indian meal. MiMi went shopping first and gifted organiser Will, with a large, green citrus. I adore the smell of limes and lemons and couldn’t stop myself from picking up this beautiful fruit and sniffing it, somewhat dementedly, throughout the evening.

I wanted one. I needed one. I had to have one!

So a couple of days later, armed with MiMi’s instructions on where to find the shop, I went back and bought not one but three of the large fruits for the princely sum of £4.

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I asked the shopkeeper what kind of limes they were. He told me they were Bangladeshi lemons.

I have since discovered that they are also known as wild oranges and shatkora. Neither a lemon (Citrus limon) nor one of the many species of limes, they are actually a different species, Citrus macroptera. Bangladesh grows a variant called annamensis which is known locally as shatkora.

Oh, and while I remember, please can I strongly recommend against an image search on the term “Bangladeshi lemon” without first turning on your safe search filter to exclude some rather explicit images! It seems the word “lemon” has come to be used for something quite, quite different!

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Shatkora are quite large, broadly oval in shape, with pointy ends and a deeply ridged exterior. In terms of the oils in the zest, I’d say that the shatkora smell much closer to limes than lemons. Oddly, the juice tastes more like lemon than lime.

I was determined to make as much of my glorious citrus as possible.

 

Candied Citrus Peel

I’ve never candied citrus peel before but have intended to do so for many years. These shatkora had such an intensely perfumed, oil-rich zest that I decided a recipe focusing on the peel would be a good place to start.

I found several recipes on the internet and amalgamated a number of them into the following:

Ingredients

130 grams lemon peel
180 grams sugar + additional for finish
8 tablespoons water

Method

  • Peel the lemon, removing as much pith as possible from the skin, and cut into long narrow strips (approximately half an inch wide).

I found the easiest way was to cut my shatkora into half along their length and then cut each half into three, also along the length. Once I had 6 long segments, it was easier to cut the main fruit away from the peel and outer pith with a sharp knife. The shatkora had really, really thick pith so the next job was to cut the peel into the narrow strips and then Pete and I spent an hour paring as much pith away from each strip as we could.

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  • Weight your strips of peel so you can work out roughly how much sugar and water you will need, though you don’t need to be too precious about exact ratios – I wasn’t!
  • Put the pith-stripped peel into a saucepan of boiling water, bring to the boil and then drain.

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  • Repeat twice more with fresh water.
  • Combine sugar and water in your saucepan and put in the drained peel, submerging as much of it as possible.
  • Bring to a bubbling simmer and keep it bubbling for about 10 minutes.

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  • Reduce the heat and simmer more gently (barely bubbling) for about 45 minutes, until the peel becomes translucent.I kept an eye on it (because of an innate fear of boiling sugar) but didn’t stir.

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  • Drain (and save syrup, see below).
  • Roll the peel in additional caster sugar to finish.
  • Spread out on parchment paper or baking sheet and either leave to dry in warm sunny spot or dry in a very low oven for an hour or so.
  • Store in airtight container. Should keep for a few weeks.

A couple of the strips retained a touch too much pith and were therefore just a touch too bitter for my taste, but most were fine and really tasty, with a strong lime flavour.

 

Citrus Cordial

I bottled the sugar and water cooking syrup from making the candied peel to use as a cordial.

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Lemon Posset

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My first thought was to make lemon curd but a last minute lightning rod of inspiration turned my head to posset. This time a couple of years ago I’d never heard of posset but it’s resurging in popularity lately and I love it.

In medieval times posset referred to a hot drink of milk curdled with wine or ale, often with treacle and spices added for flavour. It was considered to be a general restorative and a remedy for various illnesses. Later, in the 16th-century, posset was often made from citrus juice; cream and sugar, sometimes with the addition of egg; it sounds rather like lemon curd to me, but was apparently served as a sauce to accompany meat.

These days posset most commonly refers to a cold set dessert containing cream, sugar and citrus juice, similar to a syllabub but without any wine.

Recipes on the internet vary wildly in ratios of cream, sugar and lemon juice. I used this Nigel Slater recipe (scroll down) and found it to be spot on.

I’ve now made this three times (the first time using shatkora zest and juice, the second two times with ordinary lemons) and scaled up to using 1.2 litres of double cream the last two times.

Posset is incredibly rich, so a small serving per person is all you want. The quantities below will serve 4 to 6.

Ingredients

600 ml double cream
180 g caster sugar
90 ml shatkora or lemon juice
optional: finely grated zest

Method

  • Put the cream and caster sugar in a large saucepan (that allows for the liquid to double in volume) and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar.

This takes several minutes but keep a close eye, as when it reaches boiling point, it expands very fast.

  • Reduce the heat so that the mixture doesn’t boil over, but not too low as you want to allow it to bubble enthusiastically for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and zest and leave to settle for a few minutes.
  • Pour into small serving dishes or cups and leave to cool. Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.

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Given the lack of colour in the juice, I was amazed at the bright yellow of the finished posset – it was glorious! Apparently, the colour is the result of changes to the cream when it’s boiled.

The posset set perfectly into a really thick, intensely rich cream with the perfect balance of sweet and tart.

The first time I made this, using the shatkora, I pared lots of vivid green zest from the 6 pieces chopped off both ends of each lemon. I chopped this and stirred it into the cooked cream with the lemon juice but, in retrospect, I should have chopped it far, far smaller. The next two times I made posset, using ordinary lemons, I finely grated the zest and this worked really, really well.

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I served the posset with a stick of candied shatkora peel in each serving.

On the third making, I poured the posset into cute black and white espresso cups and served it with a stick of candied shatkora peel sticking upright into each cup. Sadly, I have lost all my photos of that evening, so can’t show you just how chic it looked!

 

Cold Juice

The shatkora gave a lot of juice, especially since we found an electric juicer in a cupboard and it thrashed the heck out of the fruit segments, extracting every last drop.

I froze the leftovers for later use.

 

Taking The Pith

I also kept all the pith from our initial peeling and paring of the peel and following the juice extraction. I was surprised at how much there was so I bagged it up into portions and froze it, for use to provide natural pectin, next time I make jam.

 

* What collective noun would you use for bloggers?

Please leave a comment - I love hearing from you!
58 Comments to "Bangladeshi Shatkora Citrus: Candied Peel, Cordial, Posset & Pectin"

  1. shayma

    love all this citrus loveliness, Kaves. we lived in Dhaka for a while, so you can imagine my excitement to see all the things you did with the shatkhora. x shayma

    Reply
  2. miss south

    This is so impressive, so many ideas so that not even a millimeter of fruit is wasted…and it all looks so stylish too!

    I have citrus envy now!

    Reply
  3. BeccaRothwell

    You are a bloody citrus fruit genius! Also I LOVE that you turned my half thought out “I bet it would be good candied” comment into THIS! I only wish I'd been around to taste the stunning results. xxx

    Reply
  4. Kavey

    HH, MiMi directed me to a small shop with orange-awning at the West end of Drummond Street, which is very near Euston station. They sell them!

    Shayma, how did you use them? I understand there are meat dishes named for the shatkora which presumably make heavy use of the citrus within them?

    Mis South, thank you, I was so pleased to get such good use from them!

    Su-Lin, you should try it, you could make a smaller quantity, it's so easy and is rich and silky.

    Becca, thanks love, and thanks for the reminder. I have been bookmarking candied orange peel recipes for the last few years, even just a few weeks before and yet hadn't made the leap, so much appreciated thought there! And no, not kaffir limes at all! 🙂

    Reply
  5. Kavey

    Sarah, don't do it. Don't. It's icky home-made naked stuff at it's most unpleasant.

    Hanna, try it and do let me know how you get on!

    Reply
  6. shayma

    Kaves, I think it is a dish from the Sylhet region- they make it with lamb. our cook used to prepare it and i loved it- so tart. x shayma

    Reply
  7. Kavey

    Aah interesting, as that is one of the areas listed as being a major growing region for these shatkoras! I don't like really tart dishes, I need a good balance of sweet along side!

    Reply
  8. LexEat!

    Twitter has been a-gush with talk of this posset so I'm so glad to finally have the recipe!

    I only found out about posset a few years ago too. I asked for it in a restaurant, trying to be posh “Posse'”, only to be told it's British, not French and you most definitely pronounce the “t”!

    Reply
  9. Kavey

    Lex, how cute, isn't pronunciation in restaurants a minefield? I was once corrected in an Italian restaurant (by a non-Italian waitress) on my pronunciation of bruschetta. I wouldn't have minded if SHE hadn't been the one pronouncing it wrong! And yes I did say so! 😉

    Reply
  10. Kavey

    Thanks Rosana… it was really lovely that something so simple and easy received such a positive reaction from the group! So glad you liked!

    Reply
  11. The Grubworm

    Interesting – and like Becca says, I thought initially they were the same things as Kaffir Limes. I wonder if they are related at all?

    Love the triple use of the fruit and I think your abandoned idea of a curd would be ace too. Am dying to give the candied peel recipe a go now.

    Reply
  12. Kavey

    Aaron, could well be, I'm not really familiar with what they look like so chances are they are related!

    Yes I shall probably make curd with some of that frozen juice!

    Reply
  13. Celia

    What an interesting post, Kavey! I wonder if those lemons are related to the Italian cedro? One thing – suggest you taste any pectin you make from the pith. If you found the candied peel bitter, the pith pectin might impart a similar flavour to any jam you make?

    Reply
  14. Kavey

    Good idea, though would imagine most pith same? I was just going to tie pith/pips into muslin bag and pop into jam pan – can I extract pectin from it in some other way first?

    Reply
  15. celia

    Kavey, I don't use citrus pectin, we make ours from apples instead. If you have lots to play with, maybe you could boil up a small amount in a little water and see what the liquid tastes like? From what you were saying, it sounds like this pith might be a lot more bitter than regular orange or lemon pith. Also, I think citrus pectin usually uses the rind and seeds as well?

    Reply
  16. Kavey

    Fantastic, I shall make sure to do some research and experimentation, when I'm next ready to make jam! Thank you so much for the tips! x

    Reply
  17. Naj

    Hi. Stumbled across your blog as I was interested in knowing the actual name of lemon I've eaten all my life! The trio you have pictured are not Shatkora. The Shatkora is very much a round shaped, extremely bitter citrus which is always cooked rather than eaten raw. The ones you have pictured are my absolute fave and the zest with its aroma is just to die for when eaten with a meat dish. If I find the actual name, I'll post it here.

    Reply
  18. Kavey

    Naj, I would love a name if you can find it. I did a lot of searching and it did seem that shatkora varied in shape but if it's a different variety I would dearly like to know. Thank you!
    x

    Reply
  19. Naj

    I'm shocked to find just how many varieties of lemon/citrus fruits there are!

    I'm fairly confident now that the variety on this blog is a citron called, in bengali, Zara (Jara) Lebu.

    Reply
  20. Kavey

    Thanks Naj, that's great to know. Really appreciate it. Would you consider dropping me an email via the link in left panel of the blog? Would like to find out more from you!

    Reply
  21. meemalee

    Kavey, I think Naj is right – they're citrons (specifically diamante ones) – read the Wikipedia article I've linked to, especially with reference to flavedo and scent

    Reply
  22. Rob

    I bought two of these last week and made marmalade out of one this morning. The pith is not bitter and has a reasonable lemon taste so you could treat it like Citron and candy it for use in cakes I think (the second fruit will be experimented on). They do not give very much juice though.

    Reply
  23. Butterfly

    Hi just saw your interesting article on Shatkora. Naj is right this isn't shatkora as it looks like a grapefruit but I don't think it is jara lebu either. It is just called a shashni jamir which is a citrus and you can eat the rind which is great in salads or with curry, rice and dhal. Jara Lebu is can be the size of a small rugby ball about 15cm-20 cm long and is DELICIOUS. Usually each one costs £7 or £8 and even in Bangladesh, particularly in Sylhet where I have had it, it costs 6-700 or more taka and are like gold dust and it is often the rich who buy them and are really protected by those who grow them as they can be one grocer's profits for the day. there are so many different trypes of lemons and limes in Bangladesh with different uses I lost count when I was on my gap year.There is the khata lebu which is used to cure headaches and stress by squeezing the juice on your head and sitting quietly, It does work surprisingly. Or if you are sick or feeling sick, a bundle of these lime leaves are given to you to smell especially if you are travel sick. I developed a love for the Jara Lebu when it was given as a gift from a relative who was really poor and had nothing else she could give. What a lovely thing for her to do.I was too young to know what it was until my dad bought it home from his travels one day and I asked him the name. It was divine and worth the £8 I spend on it. It usually comes out around August and September and is usually in Bangladeshi shops esp Tooting and Brick Lane. During the other parts of the year the Shashni Jamir that you have is fine and does a grand job. I stumbled on your blog as I wanted to know whether kaffir lime is the same as ada jamir which is also like shatkhora but has to be cooked and the rind imparts a limey flavout to curries.

    Reply
  24. Kavey

    Thanks, Butterfly!
    I didn't pay anywhere near £8 per lemon, but they were more than regular European lemons, of course!

    I think Meemalee has hit the nail on the head with her link to Citron, specifically Diamante Citron, see the wiki link.

    I think khatu lebu just translates to sharp or bitter lemon?

    Reply
  25. R

    Hi, the item u have pictured and used is a Shashnee(sp), eaten freshly sliced with curries. The Shatkora appears in the Rick Stein series Asian odessey episode 6.

    Reply
    Shamim

    I agree, I think they’re ‘shashni lebu/jamir’ too. I would love to know their English name together with the scientific name,though.

    Reply
  26. K

    I think the other fruit referred here as shatkora is know as citrus macroptera. Hope that helps all who are interested. Being Bangladeshi I have always enjoyed the fruits you mentioned in my own dishes. However, have suddenly discovered a newfound passion for the horticultural side, hence recent scouring of internet during the course of my research.

    One other fruit you may want to consider is the kaffir lime, natively know to the Bangladeshi community as ‘Ada’ zamir. Also features heavily in Thai cuisine.

    I hope this helps you or any other budding chef/gardener.

    Reply
  27. Shamim

    Hi,
    I stumbled on this page searching for ‘shatkora’. The citrus fruit in your recipe is in fact an exotic lemon. Like yourself, I love this citrus fruit a lot. I think it has the most wonderful fragrance and it’s my absolutely favourite type of lemon! And I love the taste of the rind too, with it’s wonderful aroma and texture!

    I was born in Bangladesh and I, and every other Bangladeshi I know have been eating this citrus fruit as a lemon. It’s Bengali name is ‘jara lebu’ which simply means ‘jara lemon’. It’s widely available in Bangladesh and West Bengal, India. It’s also now commonly available in Bangladeshi grocery shops in the UK. So, it seems the shopkeeper you bought this lemon from was quite right to describe it as a ‘Bangladeshi lemon’.

    I also love the shatkora (citrus macroptera) referred to in your article. It’s a different type of citrus fruit, similar in size and shape to a small grapefruit but with a unique flavour and aroma. It tastes wonderful in curries cooked with beef or mutton and adds a lovely mild citrusy flavour to the whole curry. However, to appreciate it fully, I think it is an acquired taste – but most people I know who are from Sylhet, Bangladesh just love it. Beef shatkora or mutton shatkora is now available as an item on the menu in many Bangladeshi restaurants, especially in the Brick Lane area of East London. As someone already pointed out earlier, a beef shatkora curry was also featured in Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odysey, Episode 6 on BBC2 in August 2009.

    Next time you’re in the shop again ask the shopkeeper for a shatkora and examine it for yourself – (from experience, I’m pretty certain that he’ll have it for sale in the shop too).

    Hope this helps.

    Reply
  28. Shamim

    PS: The pictures of the lemons are great, especially the one cut open in half – I can almost smell and taste it from here! 🙂

    Reply
  29. Shamim

    Hello again!

    I must apologize and correct myself for calling the citrons pictured above as ‘lemons’. How hasty of me!

    ‘Lebu’ or ‘lemon’ is a generic term used in Bengali to apply to almost any citrus fruit and I think that is why the shopkeeper incorrectly called these citrons from Bangladesh as ‘Bangladeshi lemons’.

    As to exactly what variety of citrons (citrus medica) they are, it is very difficult to identify and give a name in English – although they do resemble the Diamante citron cultivar in many ways.

    Anyway, thanks for posting this interesting article.

    Reply
  30. Dilwar

    Hi, just for information the three lemons are not shatkora but what Sylhetis call Shashni Jami / Lebu!

    Reply
    Shamim

    I agree completely, (I don’t think they are ‘jara lebu’ as they are smaller in size) but I would love to know the scientific name and the common English name for the ‘shashni lebu’ and the ‘jara lebu’.

    Does anyone have this information?

    Reply
  31. MAF

    I came from Sylhet, Bangladesh, studied Plant Sciences in Bangladesh and UK, and grew Shatkora, Kaffir lime and Sasni lebu plants from seeds in my backyard in the USA. The pictured fruits you bought are indeed Sasni lebu (a Bangladeshi variety of lemon with a thick rind that emanates fruity smell and has a mild taste). It is a variety of Citrus limon (http://www.agroforestry.net/tti/Citrus-citrus.pdf). Shatkora, on the other hand, is a variety of Citrus macroptera, and its fruit is very different in shape and size (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shatkora). Kaffir lime belongs to the species Citrus hystrix, and its fruits are smaller in size and strongly aromatic (http://thaifoodandtravel.com/blog/grow-your-own-kaffir-lime-tree/). I like to thank Naj, Butterfly, K, and Shamim for bringing out the truth about these interesting fruits.

    Reply
    Shamim

    Thank you for your comments MAF.

    We know that they are a variety of citron (not lemon) but what are the scientific names and the common English names for the ‘shashni lebu’ and the ‘jara lebu’?

    Reply
  32. MAF

    Addendum: Ada Lebu (or Ada Jamir or Ada Zamir) is not Kaffir lime as mentioned by K. Although the Ada Lebu and Kaffir lime are more or less equal in size and shape, the surface of Kaffir lime is rough, while the surface of Ada Lebu is relatively smooth. The kaffir lime leaves and fruits are strongly aromatic, and some people do not like their strong smell. Ada lebu has a mild flavor, which is very desirable in meat and fish curries. Ada Lebu beonlgs to the species Citrus assamensis, named after its place of origin. Both Shatkora and Ada lebu plants grow well in different environments, but do not flower or fruit easily outside their native areas. I could harvest only 3 Ada Lebu fruits after growing the plant for 20 years. My Kaffir lime plant, however, produces fruits in hundreds throughout the year.

    Reply
  33. Shah Alam

    I am afraid the pictures of the citrus fruit you refer to as Shatkora are actually Jara Lebu, my dad grows them in Bangladesh.
    Shatokora is used in meat and fish curries, jara lebu is eaten as an accompaniment to curries or juiced. Ada lebu is a smaller variety of shatkora and is also used to cook curries. Kagji lebu is another small oblong variety of citrus grown in Bangladesh.

    Reply
    Shamin

    I would just like to add that ‘kagji lebu’ is in fact a very common variety of lime found in the West and is known as ‘key lime’ in English.

    Reply
  34. Shamim

    Does anyone know the English name or the Latin scientific name for the Bangladeshi ‘shashni lebu/jamir’ pictured above and used in Kavey’s recipe?

    It’s about time someone identified it correctly and gave the English and scientific name? Are there any botanists out there who can throw some light?

    As a layman, the best I can come up with is: citrus medica ‘Bengal’, i.e. ‘Bengali citron’ or ‘citron from Bengal’, because it seems to be a citron that is peculiar to the Bengal region.

    Reply
  35. Shah

    I am afraid that you were fooled by the shopkeepers as these lemons are not Shatkora, Shatkora, which is locally called Hatkora in Sylhet region of Bangladesh, is a different kind of citrus fruit that looks more like a squashed grapefruit. And it is solely produced and available in Sylhet and a popular curry ingredient of the Sylheti people. Outside of Sylhet, Bangladeshis are not familiar with the Shatkora.

    Reply
    Shamim

    Lol. Your comments do not add anything to the discussion. What you have just stated has been pointed out by a dozen other posts.

    Please read the previous comments before making a comment of your own. Otherwise, you’ll simply be repeating what has already been said.

    Reply
  36. kaveyeats

    Ha ha, you’re lucky, I have one picture seared into my memory and believe me, I’d rather not!

    Reply
  37. Sham

    You are so resourceful!

    I am reading this post 5 years after posting. Google seems to have caught on to the unsavoury results returned by ‘Bangladeshi lemon’, and now it is just pictures of real, boring lemons. Which leads me to ask – what images came up when you googled that in 2011?

    Do let me know.

    SK

    Reply
  38. Munim Siddiqui

    I am Bangladeshi, from bangladesh, this is not satkara lime, it is kalambo lime or lemon.
    satkara is round not oval.

    Reply

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