How a marmalade from India won British hearts
I have big news this week. It comes from the high-octane world of competitive marmalade-making, where India has beaten off stiff competition from Canada, Botswana, Kenya, the Bahamas, Australia and the UK to take first place in the 2018 Commonwealth category of the World’s Original Marmalade Awards held in Cumbria, UK.
The World’s Original Marmalade Awards (Woma) were founded in 2005 by Jane Hasell-McCosh to raise money for hospice charities around the world. Woma aims to encourage home and small-producer citrus preserve making and nurture the teaching of kitchen craft between generations.
This year’s winning entry in the Commonwealth category, an Orange and Ginger Marmalade, was made by Victoria Singh at the Col. Sudhir Farm in Kota, Rajasthan, using organic oranges picked from a tree that grows in the grounds of the house, with white Indian sugar, stone-crushed locally grown root ginger juice, and mountain rock salt.
At the recent awards ceremony held at Dalemain Mansion in Penrith, one judge declared it “a marmalade that is so memorable and bold that you delight in how the flavour stays with you, beyond toast and butter: There’s a beautiful bright citrus flavour to make you smile as you leave the breakfast table.” The head judge, food writer Dan Lepard, said: “India’s marmalade has such a sharp bright zing and boldness that I’d be happy to eat it three times a day, from the first crumpet through to a late-night dessert. We always look for how the key fruit is represented in a preserve, and Victoria Singh has captured the aroma and acidity perfectly in her marmalade. The added flavour of fresh ginger juice and the canny addition of a little Himalayan rock salt added harmony without overwhelming the fruit.”
Singh’s marmalade even received the royal seal of approval when Prince Charles declared it a winner and absolutely delicious, adding that it would go very well with a steamed pudding.
Steamed puds might be great for a royal dining table in the midst of a freezing cold British spring but they’re less appealing at the height of an Indian summer. So I’ve decided to make a marmalade-y version of a quintessentially British summer dessert, Eton Mess. The original consists of strawberries, broken meringue and whipped cream, and is believed to have been invented at Eton College, where it is served at the annual summer cricket match against the pupils of Harrow School.
My Indian summer version, or “Rajasthan Mess”, which is in honour of Singh’s world-conquering preserve, uses mango and marmalade instead of strawberries. If you made the marmalade I gave the recipe for in March, this is a perfect way to showcase your own preserving skills.
Rajasthan Marmalade Mess
3 egg whites
175g caster sugar
500g double cream/malai
200g home-made marmalade
Icing sugar to taste
1-2 ripe mangoes, peeled and sliced
Line a large baking tray with baking parchment. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Put the egg whites in a clean bowl and whisk until they form soft peaks that tip over slightly when you lift the whisk. Next, add the caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to whisk until all the sugar has been added and the mixture is glossy.
Now drop rounded dessert spoonfuls of the mixture on to the baking tray. Place it in the oven on the centre shelf, turn the heat down to 140 degrees Celsius. After 1 hour, turn the oven off. Leave the meringues in the oven to dry out overnight, or until the oven is completely cold.
When you’re ready to make your Mess, whip the cream until thick but soft, adding about one tablespoon of sifted icing sugar. Break the meringues into bite-sized pieces. Assemble the dessert just before you’re about to eat it: Pile the cream into a large bowl, then gently stir in the mango pieces, meringue and marmalade. Serve as soon as possible.
The Way We Eat Now is a column on new ways of cooking seasonal fruits, vegetables and grains.