Cooked apples in a sweet, rich sauce
This recipe is in honour of my grandmother, who loved to eat and cook with apples. In Pakistan, you can buy tins of candied apples called murabba, made with or without saffron. Interestingly, the tradition of preserving fruits in sugar is indeed a Mughal one. These apples are very sweet and rich, a perfect accompaniment to yoghurt, ice cream or lightly whipped double cream.
1 litre apple juice (clear not cloudy)
220ml caster sugar
Pared rind of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
A good pinch of saffron threads
10 cardamom pods, bruised
4 large or 6 small braeburn apples, peeled
2 tbsp rose water
Lightly whipped double cream, yoghurt or ice cream, to serve
To decorate (optional):
4-6 sheets of edible silver leaf or rose petals
A handful of flaked almonds or pistachios, toasted
Combine the apple juice, sugar, orange rind, cinnamon stick, saffron threads and cardamom pods in a large, heavy-based pan set over a medium heat. Bring the mixture to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Add the apples to the syrup and simmer over a medium heat for 25-30 mins, until they are tender when pierced with a sharp knife.
Rotate the apples occasionally to ensure that they cook evenly. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apples to a serving dish. Continue to simmer the syrup left in the pan until about a cup remains. Add the rose water to the pan, then strain the syrup into a jug—it should have the consistency of maple syrup. If you find that the syrup is too thick (as it often becomes thicker as it cools), loosen the mixture with a few tbsp water.
Spoon the saffron syrup over the apples. Decorate each poached apple with edible silver leaf and toasted almonds or pistachios, if you like. Serve with lightly whipped double cream, yoghurt or ice cream.
Recipe: Saliha Mahmood Ahmed