The Shatkora Fruit, or Bengali Lemon
With little to endear this fruit at first sight, there is actually more to it than meets the eye. Get past the lack of the uniformity of shape often associated with other citrus fruits, the unruly wrinkled skin in an often mottled shade of green, and what we have is a star in the making. Widely used in folk medicine to relieve the effects of colds and flu or gastro problems, the Shatkora, or Bengali Lemon, as it is sometimes called, is also regarded with respect in the religious rituals of the Garo people. These hill tribes of Bangladesh and Meghalaya are known to place the fruit on the bodies of the sick during their last rites and again, should they pass, to protect the family from their ghost.
Shatkora fruit have a bitter, sour taste and do not make good eating. The pulp is usually discarded in favour of the rind which is cut into small pieces and cooked in a variety of curries and stews. Aside from being used with meat and fish dishes, it also makes flavoursome pickles and chutneys. Whilst the pulp is dry with little or no juice, the oils in the skin are much sought after for use in the perfume industry. As with many essential oils, the oil of the Shatkora commands a high price.
Abul’s Spice menus feature signature dishes which incorporate the Shatkora fruit, which is sourced from a specialist grocer in the Midlands. Try Abul’s personal recipe for Shatkora Bhuna Chicken or Welsh Lamb with fresh garlic, coriander and spring onions. Since fish is an integral part of Bangladeshi cuisine, where fangash is one of the nation’s favourite, Abul’s Spice has made Fangash Shatkora their own.