Saturday, November 22, 2008
Now before the editors, well-meaning, pernickety and perfectionists among you rush to conclude that Sra doesn't know it's Qubani Ka Meetha and not QuRbani Ka Meetha, let me assure you that I'm doing my bit through this post to stop the massacre of the name of this Hyderabadi delicacy***.
Qurbani means sacrifice. It is also an '80s Hindi film that had a big star cast. The closest Qurbani came to 'meetha' (sweet), as someone said, was Zeenat Aman, who played the love interest in the film. You can see her here. Aren't we glad we have YouTube?
Now Qubani/Khubani/Khoobani, on the other hand, is the Urdu word for 'apricot'. I'm not even sure what it's called in Lebanon or Turkey or the rest of the region, which seems to be where this dessert's roots lie, but let's not quibble about Qubani when my friend Aparna is celebrating her blog birthday and is waiting for all of us to come to her party.
I saw this recipe years ago when I bought Vimla Patil's 'International Food Indian Style'. The recipes use ingredients available in India to turn out food from all over the world. This dessert has been on my mind all the years that this book has lain on my shelf. However, it was a trifle too long for my liking, so I scoured the Net for a shorter version and came up with one that eliminated the baking part of the recipe, but now for the life of me, I'm not able to locate the original source. Here's how I made it anyway. Patil's contribution are the peanut brittle/chikki and the curds/yoghurt.
40-44 whole dried Turkish apricots or dried apricot halves
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 cups water
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/2-3/4 cup peanut brittle/chikki, crushed
1 cup thick yoghurt or hung curds
1/2 cup flaked and toasted almonds/chopped unsalted pistachio nuts
Put the apricots in a bowl, add just enough water to cover, and let stand overnight. Drain.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer until thickened. Add the apricots and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and continue to simmer for a minute.
With a slotted spoon, very, very carefully transfer the apricots to a baking sheet or a large plate. Reserve the syrup in the pan. Let cool to thicken slightly. If the syrup is not thick enough, reduce it further over medium heat.
If using whole apricots, carefully cut each apricot along the seam with a small sharp knife to create a pocket. Put in the peanut brittle and fill with a bit of the hung curds/yoghurt. (You have to keep a light hand, otherwise the apricot could tear.)
If using apricot halves, spoon the filling onto the centres of half of them. Top with the rest.
Place the apricots on a serving platter. Spoon the sugar syrup over the stuffed apricots, top with the almonds or pistachios. Refrigerate until the syrup is set, about 30 minutes.
The Internet recipe also suggests that the apricots be brought to room temperature at serving time. "Whole dried Turkish apricots work well in this dessert. When cooked, they plump up to reveal a seam where the pit was removed which becomes a pocket for the stuffing." Kaymak, mascarpone or creme fraiche are other choices of filling.
The Spouse and a colleague said it tasted good and helped themselves to some more. I tried it and found it not very sweet. It's not a difficult dessert to make but time-consuming, but looks good.
***(There is also some discussion on the Net as to whether and how 'sacrifice' and 'apricots' are connected but in the interest of [relative] brevity, I have sacrificed some informative links.)
Celebrations Event Curds/Yoghurt Apricot/Khoobani/Khubani/Qubani Qubani/Qurbani
Chikki/Peanut Brittle Humour Hyderabadi delicacy