Fruit compote made with fresh apples and a variety of dried fruits. Recipe courtesy of The Bangala, Karaikudi.

Raman, one of the sous chefs at The Bangala, is not only in charge of the dining room, he also makes all of their desserts. I happened to mention how much Pauli-Ann and I enjoyed his fruit compote and he beamed. He also took me straight to his pantry.

Together we rummaged the ample larder to find all the compote’s dried fruit ingredients. Before I knew it, we were back at the stove and Raman was whipping up a batch so we could include it in our offerings to you. It was completely spontaneous and just another example that hospitality knows no bounds with the gracious hosts and staff at The Bangala.

Jaggery is one of the key ingredients in this recipe. Cooks in the west may not be familiar with it but it is an all natural reduction of juices or sap from sugar cane, date palm or sugar palm trees. Like Canada’s maple syrup, it has trace minerals and a distinctive smoky caramel flavour. Once reduced, jaggery is either poured into moulds and left to harden or dried and ground into a brown sugar like powder.  If using one of the moulds of jaggery, which you can find at Indian grocers or large supermarkets with an international aisle, you need to shave off chunks until you have enough for the weight or measurement required in your recipe. You then boil them in the water. Often, there may be residue so when using this form of jaggery, you may need to strain the liquid before continuing with the recipe. If you can’t find jaggery, you may substitute brown or demerara (turbinado) sugar.


The Bangala’s Fruit Compote Recipe

Yields
12 - 1/2 cup servings

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (200 grams) jaggery (or brown or demerara sugar)
4 cups water – divided (2 then 2)
1 (5-inch) cinnamon stick
4 apples, peeled, seeded and chopped in bite size pieces
1/4 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup dried cranberries
5 dried prunes
12 dried apricots
1 cup candied orange peel
5 figs, quartered
1/2 cup rum
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lime juice


Method

  1. Place the jaggery (or sugar) and 2 cups of water in a saucepan on medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the jaggery.
  2. Strain the jaggery – if necessary – through a sieve and then put the strained liquid back in the saucepan and bring to a boil again with the cinnamon stick for about 30- 45 minutes or until it becomes a slightly thick caramel coloured sauce.
  3. Add the chopped apples and the remaining one and a half cups of water and cook until the apples are crispy soft.
  4. Add the other fruit and cook 5 to 10 minutes (until the dried fruit rehydrates and becomes soft and plump).
  5. Remove from heat and add the rum and orange and lime juices, stirring well.
  6. Enjoy on its own, as a light dessert with ice cream or drizzled over yogurt for breakfast.

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