I went on a Master Chef cooking class and learned to cook with Pistachios, Rose water, Pomegranates and cheese. A new world opened with all these beautiful ingredients. Not only for their taste but also for there vibrant colors and aromas.
Pistachio: The small tree Pistacia Vera is native to parts of Western Asia, areas between Turkey and Afghanistan and has been eaten since about 7000 BC. Plain pistachios are delicious, but roasted their flavor is exquisite.
Pomegranates: Pomegranates are often described as the dinosaur of the fruit Kingdom. In medieval times, Islamic mystics believed that pomegranates could ‘raise the soul’ and purge it of rage, hatred and envy. In the Middle East, there are a number of varieties, both sweet and sour. The Pomegranate fruit has a leathery skin that conceals the treasure of the translucent ruby seeds inside.
Rose water: These roses are grown in the Mountains of Jebel Akhdar in the Sultanate of Oman. They bloom during April when the petals are harvested and transformed into fragrant rose water. Rose water is used widely in the Middle Eastern cooking.
Now, with that all said, I decided to do my own take on all these ingredients.
6 Pears peeled and deseeded
500 ml Pomegranate juice
2 tbsp Pomegranate molasses
½ tsp red food coloring
In a fairly large pot, combine the pomegranate juice, molasses and food coloring. Add the pears. Cook for about one hour until the pears are soft and red in color. Remove the pears from the pot and leave them to cool down.
Continue cooking the juice for another 15 minutes until it reduces to a honey like consistency.
500 ml whipped cream (Labneh can also be used this is more like a cream cheese)
2 tbsp of LaBelle pistachio paste (If you cannot find any pistachio paste, blend 150 gr pistachios in a blender)
Fold the pistachio paste (or blended pistachios) into the whipped cream.
Optional: you can sweeten the cream with a little bit of castor sugar
225 gr Sugar
150 ml water
Juice of half a lemon
50 ml Rose water
Add the sugar and water into a pan and bring it to a boil, while stirring continuously. Add the lemon juice and rose water, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer, until the syrup thickens a little and coats the back of a spoon. Leave to cool
225 gr Konafa shredded pastry or Filo pastry cut into 1 cm thin strips.
110 gr melted butter of Ghee
Divide the shredded pastries into a 6-muffin pan and separate the strands as much as possible. Pour the melted butter over the pastry and using your fingers rub the butter gently into the pastry until they are well coated. Press the pastry gently to the sides to create pastry bowls.
Pop the muffin pan into a pre-heated at 180 °C and bake until the pastry bowls are golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Assembling the dish
Using 6 plates or desert dishes, place a pastry bowl into each and gently pour the sugar syrup over.
Add a big dollop of the pistachio cream into each pastry bowl.
Place a pear onto the pistachio cream into each pastry bowl.