As I mulled over on how to finish off the last few fresh apricots in the bowl, I headed over to social media for a spot of inspiration. And the timeline was filled with stories on Ramazan and a lot of them had to do with food. They were bloggers sharing ideas for 'iftar' dinners at home and articles by food lovers on the cities' most revered and popular eating joints, each an institution in their own right. Photo features on the tiny lanes of the traditional Muslim neighbourhoods, all lit up and buzzing with food stalls, crammed against each other, that come up every evening of Ramazan to cater to the faithful, after a long day of fasting.
This is rich, decadent food in all its glory, that pulls no punches. And amidst all that food, mostly meat dishes, there is of course, always a mention of something sweet. Most of it were familiar sweets like phirni, malpuas, jalebis, sheer khurma, falooda but there were a few unfamiliar ones, like sandaal and 'khubani ka meetha'.
'Khubani ka meetha' caught my eye because 'khubani' is the Persian word for apricots. Popular in Hyderabad, it is a dessert made with dried apricots that are cooked with a sugar syrup to make a sort of a compote that is served with cream. However, the photographs are not too kind to it. The compote looks like some sort of brown sludge which I'll admit does not look very appetising.
But, I liked the idea of cooking apricots in a sugar syrup. Only instead of the dried ones, I used the fresh apricots that I had. And instead of cooking them into a compote, I decided to maintain their integrity by gently poaching them with some saffron and star anise.
Star anise because I like the way the spice flavours fruits and saffron because it imbues everything with that beautiful colour. I paired the apricots with some lightly sweetened and cardamom scented yoghurt. But, feel free to use whipped cream or even, some vanilla ice-cream if that is more to your liking.
Poaching fruit is a beautiful way to use up the fruit for a simple dessert. The cardamom in the yoghurt is very subtle because the star of the show are the apricots. That reduced saffron syrup just ties it all together beautifully with the help of those chopped pistachios on top.
It is fruity, lightly scented and delicately flavoured and does the job beautifully for a dessert on a week night. Try it before the apricots simply vanish from the market!
Saffron And Anise Poached Apricots With Cardamom Scented Yoghurt
For the Poached Apricots
- 350 mls water
- 1/2 cup/100 gms sugar
- 4-5 apricots
- 1/4 teaspoon saffron strands
- 1 star anise
- Halve the apricots and remove the stones.
- Meanwhile, bring the water and sugar to boil in a medium-sized saucepan. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the saffron and star anise.
- Simmer for a few minutes and add the apricots. Poach until they are soft, around 4-6 minutes. Insert a knife through one, if it goes through without any resistance, they are done.
- Take off the heat and remove the apricots with the help of a slotted spoon into a bowl.
- Put the saucepan back on the heat again with the poaching liquid and reduce it to syrup consistency.
- Set the apricots and syrup in the fridge to cool until you are ready to serve.
Cardamom Scented Yoghurt
- 150 gms Greek/hung yoghurt
- 1-1.5 tablespoon caster sugar
- 2 cardamom pods (remove the seeds from the pods and grind the seeds with a mortar and pestle into a fine powder)
- a few pistachios, chopped for garnish
- Hand whisk the sugar, freshly ground cardamom powder and yoghurt together until smooth and well mixed.
- Serve it cold. Spoon some of the yoghurt in a bowl with the apricots, drizzle the syrup over and garnish with some chopped pistachios
- The amount of sugar used and the time taken to poach the apricots depends on the how sweet the fruit and its size. Adjust accordingly.
- Likewise for the yoghurt, taste it and adjust if you would like it sweeter.