Standing in front of the fridge with its door wide open to cool off was perhaps the most sought-after, most pre-planned of all nuisances that I ever committed every summer as a child. Every kid who had a fridge did that. They still do – my little nephew does, I hear. With air conditioning still a rare luxury back in the 80s, the fridge worked best. The cold draft was like the breath of heaven. It was like diving into an oasis after travelling a thousand miles under the sun over a hot sandy desert for 30 days … you must be getting my idea by now.
But this was not such a good idea for all the fridge’s contents. It was an even worse idea if there were to be a power outage shortly thereafter – a daily occurence in West Bengal. No matter how sneaky I had tried to be Ma always found out … always. The condensation on the bottles placed inside the fridge door gave her a clue.
In the fridge door there also used to be another guilty pleasure: a 70 ml bottle of Kissan’s Orange Squash. The plan had always been to grab the bottle of orange squash, another bottle of cold water, and some ice. When I finished bathing in the cool drafts, I’d plan to make myself a cold cold orange drink – or maybe two. Those bottles didn’t last very long. They were a summer-time commodity around the house and no summer was ever complete without them. I think I abused those bottles a bit. I was quite hooked on that drink – so was every friend I knew. Needless to say, our parents grew weary of replacing them.
Not a summer goes by without me thinking about those bottles of orange squash from Kissan. Always there on the fridge door nestled next to the bottled water. I miss doing the misdeeds and pouring myself an orange squash to quench my thirst. A few weeks back I found Saira standing in front of the fridge with one of the doors pried open. On tippy-toe she was trying to fish out something. A reflexive, “What are you doing, Saira?” came out of me without even thinking, which made her quickly close the door and run, protesting over her shoulder, “nothing!”. There’s no orange squash for her to fish out, and neither was she cooling off – she was just being an imp. I wished that tall bottle of orange squash from my childhood had materialized in the fridge door. I wished I could make some for the both of us and sip it silly until the last drop.
Since what I was looking for was nowhere to be found in St. John’s, I decided to find a recipe and make my own. When I went to buy the oranges and saw the kumquats, I had a change of mind and bought them instead. Kumquats are packed with a fabulously intense citrusy flavour. They were just right for what I was dreaming of. So here it is, kumquat squash that you can enjoy in any way you please. They make great effortless drinks and they are also great over shaved ice eaten as a slushy.
All this nostalgia got me thinking and pining for more. Another favourite childhood drink was rose syrup mixed with cold milk – now I can’t wait to experiment with a recipe. I’ll have to wait for the roses to bloom for that!
Makes: 1.5 cups
- Kumquat: 1 cup sliced
- Fresh Orange Juice: 250ml, about 5 oranges
- Fresh Lemon Juice: 150ml, about 2 lemons
- Sugar: 1 and 2/3 cups
- Water: 1 cup
- Orange food colouring(optional): a few drops to your liking
- Zest the oranges, then juice them. You Set both aside.
- Juice the lemons and set aside.
- Slice the kumquats and take the seeds out.
- In a saucepan add all the ingredients except for orange juice and colouring and bring to a boil.
- Once boiled, reduce heat, cover and let boil on low till the kumquats are completely cooked.
- Turn off heat and add orange juice and food colouring, stir to combine.
- When cooled, strain the mixture through a medium sieve and store in a sterilized bottle.
- Refrigerate and use within a month.
- To make a drink: pour desired amounts over ice and cold water.