Stewed Pakistani dried apricots with a spoonful of double cream

The advent of summer (yesterday — ?) is no reason to shun dried fruit. These tiny, intensely fragrant apricots — which must be soaked and briefly stewed — make the most perfect dessert to punctuate a hot evening outdoors with friends. There was one just a few weeks ago, before it started to rain, again. (Now even my garden, sopping, seems to say ‘enough!’)

I first saw mention of these remarkably small apricots, famously from the Hunza valley in northern Pakistan, by the food writer Jenny Linford on Instagram some weeks ago. They are dried directly on the trees and become so hard that they need to be soaked — coaxed — overnight back to tenderness. I am quite a fan of dried fruit, as a couple of recipes on these pages can attest, and started hunting for them immediately.

It is no hyperbole to say these are entirely unlike any apricot — fresh or dried — I have ever tasted. Emphatically, they justify breaching the attempt to eat as locally as possible. Some exceptions are worth it.

To accentuate the aroma of the apricots I created a faintly sweet, barely cardamom syrup.

Stewed Pakistani dried apricots recipe

These apricots are sold with kernels, and I left them in so the fruits stayed round and plump when cooked, but opinions differ. If you wish to remove the kernels the best time to do this is after soaking and before cooking.

400g apricots
3 Tbps golden caster sugar (or similar)
2 whole cardamom pods
Thick double cream to serve

In a bowl, soak the apricots overnight in about double the amount of water needed to cover the apricots, as they will swell and soak up the water. Add water if necessary so that all the abricots stay submerged.

The next morning, transfer the apricots to a saucepan and simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove the apricots with a slotted spoon or ladle and set aside. Add 3 heap tablespoons of sugar and the seeds from two cardamom pods, lightly crushed in a mortar. Simmer for 10 minutes (or longer for a more intense cardamom flavour).

Strain the syrup and pour over the apricots. Let the apricots cool completely then place them in the fridge for at least a couple of hours and before serving.

Serve with spoonfuls of thick double cream.

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