Gondhoraj lebu,the literal translation of this bengali name for a particular variety of lime means ”king of aroma”.Indeed this lime stands true to it’s name.It is one of the best variety of lime in terms of smell, that I have ever come across.The mere mention of this lime when bengalis are in conversation can send paroxysmal of joy that only someone who have smelled this lime will know.Hot and humid West Bengal summers would provide the perfect setting to indulge in the pure joy of having rice,patla mushoor dal (watery lentil soup)with a bout of gondhoraj lebu squeezed in.Some time my dimma (grandmother) would make daal with the leaf of gondhoraj lebu immersed in it ,to make it aromatic and refreshing.This lime is generally bright dark green,with a tough and hard outer surface and much larger in size than the ordinary key limes.The pale inner segment of the lime yields scanty juice but is always marked by overpowering smell that will compellingly bring one to the dinner table once it’s served with the food. But this fragrant lemon kind of disappeared(until recently) from my life once I stepped out of Bengal.Gondhoraj lebu is pretty much region specific and find it’s firm footing in Bangladesh and West Bengal in India.
The scientific name of this lime is said to be Citrus Limonia .This Rangpur lime variety got it’s name from a place called Rangpur in Bangladesh,where it is grown profusely.It is a cross between mandarin and lime,not very juicy in nature,but orgasmic in fragrance for sure.
The distant cousins of our very own Gondhoraj lebu can be found in South China as Canton Lemon , in Japan as Hime Lemon,as Limao Cravo in Brazil or Mandarin Lime in the United States.These are all different variety of the same family of Rangpur limes.
My search for the ever elusive Gondhoraj lebu ,however,finally ended when I came across it in a Bangladeshi grocery shop in Birmingham,England.My joy knew no bound the moment I saw them.I grabbed a few and headed straight to the counter.We had our Gondhoraj happiness with lime wedges cut,squeezed and smell inhaled with the regular mushoor daal and bhaat(rice) .That pacified our gondhoraj craving souls to a great extent.But some of them were still sitting pretty in the fridge side-cabinet.I decided to do some fusion dessert with my favorite lime variety. Inspirations were in plenty.The other popular aromatic limes like the Kaffir lime or the thai lime often used to make desserts like ice cream,white cake or the Carribean Key lime known to make refreshing cheesecakes were my point of reference.I decided to make some egg-less mousse with the signature fragrance of Gondhoraj lebu.Mousse is a French food that incorporates air bubbles to give it a smooth and light texture.Contrary to popular belief it can be consumed as dessert as well as in its savory form depending on the choice of ingredients.From the colder spring we are gradually progressing to warmer summer here in UK ,while the whole of Bengal is all ready under the spell of summer sun.Just the perfect time to make and lap up this yummy cool dessert.
- Double cream : 600 ml
- Condensed milk : 395 gm
- Paneer or home made chhena : 250 -275 gm
- Gondhoraj Lebu juice : 1-2 tablespoon
- Gondhoraj lebu zest : 1 teaspoon
Pour the double cream and condensed milk in a clear and chilled container. Whip the double cream and condensed milk together with a hand blender or an electric beater till it forms firm peaks .Keep aside.Mash the paneer or chhena well to paste consistency ideally with the mixer grinder.Make sure the paste is smooth enough without any hint of lump(mine was not smooth enough to my expectation ,hence the warning!),otherwise the mousse will be little grainy in texture.Fold in the whipped double cream and condensed milk into the paneer or chhena paste.
Add the gondhoraj lebu juice at this stage.Give a gentle mix.Spoon the mousse mixture into the chilled serving dishes and top it with gondhoraj lebu zest.Scrap the lemon zest with a grater or a zester.Make sure you remove only the bright green zest and not the white pith ,which is bitter in taste.Seal the serving dishes with cling fling and refrigerate for at least 4-5 hours or overnight.Serve the Gondhoraj Lebu Mousse chilled.
Note : For this recipe you can use the store bought paneer or make your own chhena at home,what ever suits you.Only make sure to drain as much moisture as possible of which ever option you are opting.