Wednesday, 9 February 2011

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

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.


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!


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:


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


  • 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.

BanglaLemon-5607 BanglaLemon-5609

  • 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.

BanglaLemon-5610 BanglaLemon-5612

  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.

Shatkora Cordial

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



Shatkora or Lemon Posset


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.


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


  • 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.

LemonPosset-5625 LemonPosset-5628

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.


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?


Heavenly Housewife said...

What a beautiful citrus fruit. I hope to come across it.
*kisses* HH
p.s. I have the same desert glasses as you, the ones on the stem (from F&M).

shayma said...

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

miss south said...

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!

Su-Lin said...

What great ways to use up your citrus bounty! I've never had posset before.

BeccaRothwell said...

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

BeccaRothwell said...

Also very interesting to find out they weren't kaffir limes after all! They apparently look like this:

Kavey said...

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! :)

Sarah, Maison Cupcake said...

Looks fantastic, I love a gloopy citrus pudding. Having to sit on my hands now to not google bangladeshi lemons, intrigued but not THAT intrigued!!!

Hanna @ Swedish Meatball said...

Citrus pudding rocks my world! I will look out for this bad boy, have never seen it before and would love to try it!

Kavey said...

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!

shayma said...

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

Kavey said...

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!

LexEat! said...

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"!

Kavey said...

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! ;)

Rosana said...

I tasted it made by Kavey and it's gorgeous! thanks for the recipe. Lots of love

Kavey said...

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

Julianna Barnaby said...

Wow - I'm impressed! And thanks for the google warning...

Mamta said...

Where is my portion then :-(!

The Grubworm said...

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.

Kavey said...

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!

Celia said...

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?

Kavey said...

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?

celia said...

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?

Kavey said...

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

Naj said...

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.

Kavey said...

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!

Naj said...

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.

Kavey said...

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!

meemalee said...

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

Kavey said...

Thanks MiMi! :)

Rob said...

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.

Butterfly said...

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.

Kavey said...

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?