As children, we remember plucking Gondhoraj lebu from our garden in Asansol, just before lunch and rinsing it with tap water and slicing it in half to release the divine aroma. It used to have very little juice, but the aroma was so fresh and lemony that it could be detected from far away and of course, made up for the meager quantity of the juice.
I remember the best combination with Gondhoraj lebu was with masoor daal tempered with garlic and onion seeds. We loved how the aroma would blend so perfectly with any food that we added and I miss it so much now…
The Gondhoraj lime is much larger in size than a regular lemon and is usually available in fresh green colour. It is sturdy, has a smooth and a woody exterior and its aroma is very alike to the Khaffir lime. I think I can call safely call it a ‘distant cousin’ of the Khaffir lime.
On my last trip to Calcutta, I went shopping to the Gariahat market to buy vegetables to bring back to Kerala. Yes, I shop for vegetables when I travel, especially when I don’t get large brinjal (to prepare beguni or bharta), Gondhoraj lebu, potol (pointed gourd), tender bhindi (Okra) in the place where we live in Kerala. I did not realize how rare and expensive the Gondhoraj lebu has become. The vendor charged Rs. 8/- per piece and when I bought 10 pieces, he gave me a discount of Rs. 2/- . The scent from the Gondhoraj lebu always bring back many childhood memories – so it is a happy scent.
We attended a wedding last December in Calcutta and the catering was done by ‘6 Ballygunge Place’ – the food was exquisite and they have brought a new level to Bengali cuisine. For starters they served Gondhoraj Chicken, that went so well in the chilly winter night. I liked the flavour of the mild pepper, with a hint of Gondhoraj.
I tried recreating it back home, but made a meal out of the chicken, instead of a starter. So here goes. If you don’t get Gondhoraj, you can substitute for any other lime (even though it won’t be the same, you could try).
- Chicken – 500gms
- Gondhoraj lebu – 1 whole (regular lemon/ lime – 1/2)
- Garlic – 6-7 flakes
- Onion – 1 medium size, finely chopped
- Black pepper – to taste
- Salt to taste
- Green chillies – 3-4 nos.
- Marinate the chicken with Gondhoraj lebu, salt and pepper and keep aside.
- Heat oil in a wok and brown the onions and add the garlic.
- Now add the marinated chicken and mix well.
- Keep covering and stirring every 5 mins.
- Once done, slit the green chillies and add them to the chicken and close the lid.
- Serve hot with steamed rice.