Kheer Komola is a beautiful sweet dish made using oranges, a specialty from the state of West Bengal. It is typically prepared in the winters, when fresh oranges flood the markets. It is also a common offering to Maa Durga during Durga Pooja in Bengal. Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for this utterly delicious Bengali-style Orange Kheer.
Durga Pooja commemorates the victory of Maa Durga over the demon king Mahishasura, with several sweet and savoury confections being prepared for the occasion. These Bhapa Aloo by Sasmita, Tomato Khejur Amshotter Chaatni, Anarosher Chaatni, Strawberry Bhapa Doi, and these Kheerer Malpua by Sujata ji are a few examples of the foods cooked in Bengali households to celebrate Durga Pooja. I am so grateful to have had a chance to participate in these celebrations at the homes of Bengali friends and also learn how to make this kheer.
What goes into Komola Kheer?
Oranges (called ‘komola lebu‘ in Bengali) and milk are not a combination you would think of normally, but those are the major ingredients of this kheer. Full-cream milk is first thickened and sweetened, then allowed to cool down, after which orange segments and juice (sometimes zest too) is added to it. The end result is this delicate, extremely delectable, rich and creamy dessert called Kheer Komola or Komola Lebur Payesh.
This kheer is usually kept very simple, with just the bare minimum of ingredients going in – oranges, milk and sugar. However, you may flavour it with cardamom powder or garnish it with some nuts if you so prefer. The Kheer Komola recipe I am sharing here is very basic, requiring just the most basic of ingredients.
How to make Kheer Komola
Making this kheer is so ridiculously simple it hardly needs a recipe. However, there are certain techniques you need to follow to get the perfect outcome, which I have discussed at detail in the course of this post.
Ingredients (serves 4):
- 1 litre full-fat milk
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar or as needed
- 2 large ripe, sweet oranges
- Zest from 1 large orange, about 2 teaspoons (optional)
- About 1/4 cup orange juice
1. Take the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan, and place it on high flame. Allow it to come to a boil. This takes 5-7 minutes.
2. Now, reduce the flame to medium. Add in the sugar. Mix well.
3. Let the milk cook on medium flame till it reduces to more than half of its original volume. This will take 15-20 minutes, by which time it will start to change colour and thicken. Stir intermittently. Scrape down the cream that forms on the sides of the pan, back down into the milk.
4. When the milk has thickened, switch off gas. Allow to cool down to room temperature. You can even chill the milk in the refrigerator for a few hours, if you prefer.
5. Just before serving, zest a large orange and add to the milk mixture. Peel the oranges and separate the segments. Remove all seeds and fibres, and retain only the orange flesh. Cut the flesh into bite-sized pieces. Also, squeeze about 1/4 cup of fresh orange juice and keep it ready. Add the orange segments and juice to the mixture. Mix well.
6. Let it sit undisturbed for 10-15 minutes, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator, for the orange to spread its flavour in the milk. Consume chilled or at room temperature, after this.
Tips & Tricks
1. Full-fat milk works best in the making of this Kheer Komola. Here, I have used full-cream milk from Nandini.
2. I have used regular refined sugar here.
3. Use oranges that are in season, for best results, fruits that are neither too sweet nor too sour. Mostly sweet oranges with a tinge of sourness work best in this Kheer Komola.
4. Use a heavy-bottomed pan to reduce the milk. Patiently wait for the milk to reduce well to almost half of its original volume. If the reduction isn’t done well, the kheer will taste more like plain milk and oranges rather than having the rich and creamy texture it should. Moreover, remember that we will be adding some orange juice to the kheer too, which will slightly dilute it. However, the kheer does thicken up more upon cooling.
5. Remember to wait till the reduced milk has completely cooled down, before adding in the orange segments, zest and segments. Otherwise, the milk might curdle.
6. I have used Valencia oranges that I had at home, to make this Komola Lebur Payesh. They were more yellow than orange in colour, but were wonderfully sweet with just a wee bit of sour – just perfect for the kheer.
7. This Kheer Komola tastes best after it has rested for a while. You can do this either at room temperature or in the refrigerator. I prefer having this kheer slightly chilled.
8. Adjust the quantity of sugar, orange juice, zest and segments as per personal taste preferences. I have used a regular grater to get the zest. Make sure you grate only the orange skin and do not get any of the underlying white pith, as that might make the kheer bitter.
9. Like I was saying earlier, you don’t really need to use anything other than milk, sugar and oranges in this kheer. However, you may add in toasted and slivered almonds and/or cardamom powder for more flavour.
10. I have seen Bengali families skipping even the orange juice and zest altogether. In that case, only orange segments (with seeds and fibres completely removed) are added to the reduced milk. If you are skeptical of the kheer turning bitter with orange juice or zest, you may follow this method.
11. Do not use over-ripe oranges. Sometimes, they have a wine-y smell that may make the Kheer Komola less than stellar.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!