This year has been about using up every possible ingredient without much wastage. Covid lockdown created a sudden shortage of hitherto easily available produce and while I have always been a proponent of low wastage, this time I stretched myself and my ingredients :-D, to produce quite a few interesting dishes. The stars of my show were the watermelon rind and orange peel and I will be gradually documenting all the recipes that I created out of these scraps.
I will start with the Orange Peel/rind pickle that I made, more so because I am quite pleased with the picture that I clicked. The bangle adorned hands of my neighbor, inspired me to style the shot, with the bright colors matching the exciting tanginess of the pickle. Not to mention that both of us were out of our minds with boredom, being jailed at home for so many months and needed some action to entertain us 😀
Orange peel –
I prefer local produce and I usually do not opt to buy imported items. But during lockdown, our choices were limited and I had to buy Valencia oranges (which strangely were available). Of course this did have an advantage because these peels are milder in comparison to our local Indian oranges. You can use regular orange peels of the Nagpur or Coorg oranges but they have a harsher flavor.
Orange peel uses –
Orange peels are quite versatile in their uses. Despite their bitterish taste, these are quite popular for their ability to add flavor and fragrance to dishes. Orange zest, candied peels, orange peel kuzhambu (a south Indian curry), gojjus (relish of sorts), pickles, chutney powder etc etc are some of the things one can utilize these peels in.
The peels are also a great ingredient in home made cleaning liquids, bio enzymes, cosmetics, medicines etc.
Procedure to make pickle –
Since I was already on a watermelon rind spree, I naturally was unable to spare the orange peels either 😀 and making pickles and gojjus with them became my favorite pastime. I went through various recipes on the internet and picked ideas and ended up mixing and matching ingredients and procedures that thankfully gave me good results. So while this recipe works for me, you can also tweak it to suit whatever you have or prefer and there are no hard and fast rules here. It is really a flexible recipe both taste wise and consistency wise.
I have also used souring agents in the recipe because I wanted a tangy taste and the peels do not have any. In fact the Valencia orange peels are so mild that they barely have any character. But then again, this works fine with those who may not like intense flavors.
Also you can use a sweetener of choice. I have tried this recipe with jaggery and organic sugar but honey or any other sugar should do well too.
Recipe for Orange Peel Pickle –
Valencia orange peel chopped fine – 200 gm
Water to blanch the peels – this is an optional step (See Notes)
Jaggery – 100 gm
Salt – 2.5 teaspoon
Spicy chilli powder – 3 teaspoon
Kashmiri chilli powder (to impart color) – 2 teaspoon
Haldi (turmeric) powder – 1/2 teaspoon
Mustard oil – 1/4 cup
Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Saunf (fennel seeds) – 1/2 teaspoon
Jeera (cumin seeds) – 1/2 teaspoon
Kalonji (nigella seeds) – 1/2 teaspoon
Methi (fenugreek seeds) – 1/2 teaspoon
Hing (asafoetida) – 1/4 teaspoon
Lime juice 3 – 4 tablespoon
If using the blanching method, boil sufficient water to submerge the peels. Drop the peels in the boiling water and let them simmer for 2 – 5 minutes. Drain out the water and air dry the peels for 30 minutes.
If you want to skip this step, then proceed directly as below.
Heat the oil in a medium sized wok or non stick pan. Add the mustard, jeera saunf, kalonji and methi seeds. When they splutter, add the hing.
Add the peel and fry on high heat for 5 minutes.
Add salt, both the chilli powders and haldi. Fry for 2 – 3 minutes on low heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
Add jaggery/sugar. Within a few moments the jaggery melts and becomes syrupy. Cover the pan and cook for 10 – 15 minutes or until the peel is as soft as desired. Frequently open and stir.
Remove the cover, add lime juice and cook until the oil separates. This may take approximately 5 – 10 minutes.
Please note that cooking times at all stages may vary based on the type of peels that you are using.
Cool the pickle to room temperature and bottle it. Keep refrigerated.
This pickle keeps well in the fridge for nearly a month. Use only a dry spoon to serve.
I have tried both the blanching and direct methods. Blanching softens the peel and also reduces the orange flavor.
In the direct method you may sometimes fry the peel for a bit too long and this will result in the peel getting stiff and hard. So the trick is to fry for an optimal time. In case the pickle does get too chewy, then just run it in the mixer and turn it into a coarse orange chutney powder of sorts.
I hope you will successfully try this recipe and I would really appreciate if you leave your feedback in the Blog comments.