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.