Summers are for peaches, berries and apricots. Apricots mature early than the others, fresh one has a hint of tang in them but I love their apricot y color and musky flavor. The fruit is native to Armenia and the region is known for producing and using apricots since antiquity. Fields after fields filled with dried apricots in Turkey presents such a pleasurable sight.
Around 400 years ago these Turkish apricots travelled all the way passing through the mighty Himalayan mountains and reached “Hindustan“, it’s transporters were on the verge of establishing a new dynasty in a foreign land. Rest is history with the rise and fall of Mughals, but apricots stayed here.
Apparently apricots seems to love this new humid and tropical country, but since its cultivar can not survive under the scorching sun, they shifted northwards, under the shade of mighty Himalayas.
Apricots finds its destiny as “Qubani ka meetha” under the tutelage of Nizams (Governor of realm) of Hyderabad and thus evolved into one of the most elusive dessert and find its rightful place in the “shahi dastarkhwan” – a meticulously laid out ceremonial dining spread.
With time everything fades out in the oblivion, so as “qubani ka meetha”. A more popular dessert nowadays rules Hyderabad called “double ka meetha“, or bread pudding that off course represent common man’s pudding! Nizams are gone, so does the apricot pudding but food connoisseur still strive hard to preserve the tradition.
During my few years of stay in Hyderabad, I have come across many versions of khubani ka meetha, but honestly speaking I never liked it. An unappetizing brown color sugary mass with an oversize dollop of vanilla ice cream, can not be Nizam’s “khubani ka meetha” .
But I was lucky enough to savor it again, only this time it was served in a Muslim wedding of one of my colleague. Whether your are close to your colleague or not, does not matter, an invitation to wedding must be honoured in all respect, at least for the sake of grandiose and luxurious feasts weddings are known for in India. That event has changed my perception, khubani ka meetha was delicious with chopped kernels in it, not syrupy sweet and was served with a thick cream.
Recipe is simple. Just four ingredients. Apricot, sugar, cardamom and cream.
- Dried Apricots : 30 (pitted)
- Sugar : as per requirement
- Sliced almonds : a handful
- Heavy Cream : ½ cup
- Cardamoms or cinnamon or nutmeg to flavor
- Soak the apricots in enough water (just to cover the apricots) overnight. They will become rehydrated and plumpy.
- If the apricots are not pitted then remove the seeds. My apricots are already pitted so I skip this step.
- Heat the apricots and water together, add a stick of cinnamon or few pods of cardamom or even a star anise if you wish to. This is just to infuse the flavour in the dessert.
- Few drops of lemon or orange extract, if you have. I added few drops of orange extract and it heightened the flavor to another extent.
- Now add the sugar and keep stirring.
- I love the way how sugar slowly caramelises.
- Keep stirring and cook on low heat till it reaches a mushy consistency.
- At this stage you can puree it for a smooth texture and this is more traditional way of doing it or you can leave it half crushed.
- Qubani ka meetha is ready and you can serve it warm or cold with saffron cream, garnished with slivered almonds or apricot kernels.
- Give some wings to your imagination and present it in a different style like this – apricot pudding trifle.
- For this take a dessert glass and put the base layer of finely chopped almonds, pistachios, walnuts etc.
- Pour the apricot pudding over it. Top it with saffron cream. If requires repeat the steps and serve chilled.
There are ways to replace the sugar in the recipe, some suggests use dates instead and some honey. I have added honey to it.
Qubani ka meetha resemble closely to English desserts like apricot fool (e), originated much the same time but food historians vouches that the original dessert was more liquid in nature and was translucent. If that was the case then today’s khubani ka meetha resembles no way close to Nizam’s recipe. Until someone dig the past and willing enough to share the centuries old recipe, lets enjoy its modern version.
Happy Weekend and please do not forget to share it on Facebook.