The cumquats are ripening on the trees as I put this collection together and it has been a great reminder of the wonderful produce from this little-used citrus fruit. What a great little workhorse it is.
We’ve been making lime pickles from the Makrut Limes (formally known as Kaffir Limes) from our tree. There are an awful lot of seeds in the limes. We don’t like to waste anything, and I also had a couple of dozen cumquats I was looking to use. The seeds from the limes are full of pectin, so I simmered them with the pulp that was left after juicing the cumquats. After straining, it made the most wonderful syrup.
The taste is sweet with citrus-bitter, a little like marmalade. It is almost set but now quite – a perfect consistency for toast and crumpets, and also for drizzling over rice pudding, Besan Payasam, icecream and other desserts. It is also a great drizzle over Brussels Sprouts and other veggies before roasting, onto soups, curries, rice etc.
Of course you won’t have lime seeds at your disposal. Make it anyway, just leave the seeds out. Or you can try with lemon seeds or seeds of other citrus. Add just enough sugar to retain the taste but overcome any sharp sour or bitter tastes. (You want to keep a little sour and a little bitter, don’t eliminate it altogether. We are not used to bitter tastes in our cuisines, but they are wonderful when used in the right way.)
I make a cumquat chutney which is quite divine and these Pickled Cumquats, but this year I wanted to make something a little different. So I took the ideas from the pickle to make this chutney that is sweetened with mango puree. Not only is it mango puree, it is alphonso mango puree, the king of mangoes. You can use any mango puree of course, but I saw some alphonso at my local Asian shop for the first time the other day, so I had to grab some.
If you want to make your own mango puree, please go ahead. There are still plenty of ripe mangoes in the shops if you know where to look (try good Asian groceries). The delight of using mango puree is that it adds a sweet element against the tartness of the cumquats. Add chilli, and you have a hot-sweet-sour chutney which is incredibly additive.
It takes about 45 cumquats to make this chutney, and can be made in 30 mins once you have sliced and seeded the cumquats. We really adore it.
Although it might sound unusual to cook cauliflower with oranges, it is not unknown in Indian and relatively common in China. This is an Indian dish in which I have found a use for the abundance of cumquats in our garden. The oranges adds a beautiful sweetness to the dish while the cumquats balance the sweetness by adding a delightful sweet-sour tang. The cauliflower is coated in turmeric and sauteed before adding to the sauce.
Similar dishes include Pepper and Turmeric Cauliflower, Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin and Sumac, Roasted Cauliflower with Green Tahini Dressing, Cauliflower Fry, and Cauliflower Roasted with Black Mustard Seed.
Who else can eat half a cauliflower by themselves? If the dish is delicious it is all I might make for a meal, and between the two of us a whole cauli will disappear. This is one of those recipes. I make it with any of my tomato sauces that are sitting in the freezer, so it is an incredibly easy dish to pull together. Great for coming home late from work or a day out – it can be on the table in about 30 mins if you prepare the cauli quickly. (Or chop it ready to roast before you go out.)
Similar recipes include French Tomato Sauce, Turmeric Cauliflower with Chilli-Orange Dressing, Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin and Sumac, Cauliflower Roasted in Olive Oil, and Crispy Cauliflower with Capers.
One of our cumquat trees is hanging heavy with fruit, looking gorgeous in the Autumn sun. The other one is covered in flowers! Go figure the timing! It is a different variety though, so perhaps that accounts for it.
We use a lot of cumquats, loving cumquat tea, poached cumquats, cumquat jam, cumquat pickles and many other ways of using them. I saw a house with a cumquat tree hedge recently, and I have just gone wild thinking about how I can do that at my place!
Today we are roasting the cumquats, and using them with some of our thyme that is flowering in the garden, and the seeds and juice of passion fruit, and sitting it all on an eggless custard type mixture that I love to make. I call it Indian custard, but its real name is Besan Payasam.
BTW, In Australia we spell passionfruit as one word. They are abundant here and we take them for granted. We eat them fresh from the garden, we use the pulp for our national dish Pavlova, and we used to drink Passiona soft drink by the litre back in the day.
Take these little balls of tangy sweetness and serve with pudding, baked sweet rice or over a sweet syrupy cake. They go well with icecream, or just with some creme fraiche or thick yoghurt. Chop them up and through them into salads or mix through rice. These are so good! They are exceptional accompaniments to hot Indian curries.
Beautiful cumquats make beautiful jam, and so it is to the stove top that we turn this morning. Some cherry tomatoes are drying in the oven, taking the chill off of the kitchen, and we chop, soak and simmer cumquats before turning them into the most delicious marmalade. Breakfasts are going to be amazing this month!
This jam is also an exceptional accompaniment to hot Indian curries. The sweetness tempers the heat of the dish, and the cumquat tartness is beautiful with the spices.
Spring brings us Broad Beans. Celebrate their freshness with this salad.
Oh the joy of Spring. Two pieces of that joy are the short season of the Broad Bean, and the arrival of ripe cumquats. Today we celebrate the Broad Bean with a quick salad.
Larger Broad Beans need to be twice peeled. That is, they are first removed from the pod, of course, and then each bean has their thick outer shell removed. This seems like a lot of work, but once you are on a roll, it happens quickly. I use a small, sharp knife to knick the outer skin, then a quick peel and the inner bean pops out. The inner bean is much gentler in taste, very delicious.
You can also make this salad at other times of the year – just use frozen broad beans, easily available from your supermarket. You can find them peeled and unpeeled. Go for the peeled ones if you can find them – much easier and definitely quicker.
Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Fava Bean Salad with Garlic and Dill, Green Papaya, Snake Bean and Tomato Salad, Broad Bean and Dill Rice Orecchiette with Broad Beans, Broad Beans with Feta and Preserved Lemon, Broad Beans Mezze, Ensalada, Spring Pasta with Broad Beans and Mint, Broad Beans with Fresh Pecorino, and Pan Fried Broad Bean Salad.
Rasam, that tangy, spicy, soup-like liquid of South India, is commonly made from lemons, limes and oranges, so, with a surfeit of cumquats in the kitchen, we made a delicious Cumquat Rasam to eat over rice.
You may be wondering what a Rasam is. It is a soup-like dish which can be thick or thin, and is usually eaten as part of a meal and served with rice – read more about Rasam here.
I’ve been discussing the spelling of Cumquat with others. In many places it is spelled Kumquat, but the British (and Australian) spelling is Cumquat. Surprisingly, in India, which has followed the British spellings in other things, has chosen Kumquat. But actually, neither spelling is correct. The name derives from the Cantonese gām-gwāt 金橘, literally meaning golden orange or golden tangerine. Our transliteration of the Cantonese, with the g sound so close to the k sound, had become C(K)umquat. There are parts of the world that call them Chinese Orange – so much simpler.