Oranges are back! Yay!!! I love juicy fruits and oranges definitely top the list of favourites – not just for the taste but for the very refreshing citrus fragrance.

My favourite winter family activity is to sit outdoors in toasty sunlight and enjoy oranges and roasted peanuts. Also I love to make orange sauce for chicken wings and add sliced oranges to salads.

This sliced oranges in rose syrup dessert is inspired by Mediterranean cuisine. I love how fruits are used in Mediterranean culture in desserts without overpowering them with too much sugar, flours or any other heavy ingredients.

I substituted jaggery for regular sugar in the traditional North African recipe for Portokal Kompostosu or Sliced Oranges in Fragrant Syrup. Jaggery and honey are the only two acceptable sweeteners in our home these days.

For fragrance I replaced orange blossom with rose water and added a pinch of salt to cut through the sweetness. I have no words to describe how delicious was the syrup!

A little cheese and few walnuts added creaminess and crunch to syrupy, slurpy sliced oranges – an interesting textural contrast.

2 oranges
2 tablespoons jaggery or organic brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1 stick cinnamon
1 star anise
1 tablespoon rose water
A pinch salt
1/4 cup cottage cheese or paneer
A handful walnuts
Few mint or basil leaves

This Is What You Do:
Wash and pat dry oranges. Peel. Save a peel. Cut into very thin strips.

Cut oranges into round slices. Remove all seeds and pith.

Heat water in a saucepan. Add jaggery, honey, star anise, cinnamon and orange rinds.

Cook on medium low heat till the syrup slightly thickens.

Remove from heat. Add salt and rose water. Allow to come down to room temperature.

Scoop out cinnamon, star anise and orange rinds.

Arrange orange slices in a deep dish. Pour clear rose syrup over them.

Place a little cheese and half a walnut over each slice. Refrigerate till chilled.

Garnish with orange rinds and mint or basil leaves.

Serves 2

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