The narrow streets that curl around the vibrant Kadiköy market – the perfect setting in which to explore the sights, sounds and aromas of the Asian side of Istanbul – is lined with family owned grocery stores with shop fronts only just visible behind mountains of beautiful fresh produce, dried fruits and nuts. The aromas of freshly ground coffee and baking bread linger heavily in the air and hawkers shout out to attract your attention already hugely distracted by the sheer theatre of it all. Inside every shop you will find a cornucopia of oils, olive oils, natural soaps, herbs, teas and tisanes, olives and pickles, barrels of feta and huge buckets of biber salçası, a beautiful red pepper paste available in both hot (aci) and sweet (tatli) varieties, dried vegetable cases and fruit leathers. Just to wander up and down the narrow lanes is one of life’s greatest pleasures especially in the late afternoon as twilight shines through and the market throngs with shoppers looking for inspiration for that evening’s supper. It is heaven to me. Served with a simple rosewater cream, this beautifully opulent naturally sweet dessert transports me back to that beautiful and inspiring place in less a minute.
200g apricot leather (available in Middle Eastern food stores), cut into small pieces
100g dried apricots
100g golden sultanas
60g walnuts, halved
60g blanched almonds
60g pine kernels
4 tsp orange blossom water
Six mint leaves, slivered, to garnish
Edible rose petals, to garnish
For the rosewater cream:
300ml low fat crème fraîche
2 tbsp rosewater
3 tbsp icing sugar
How I make it
Make the rose cream by mixing all the ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate.
Mix the nuts together and cover with cold water. Set aside for two hours and then drain.
Place a medium pan on a high heat, add the water and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and add the prepared apricot leather. Gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until the leather has dissolved. Pour the apricot juice over the fruit and set aside to cool. Cover and place in the fridge for at least a couple of hours (I usually leave it overnight).
Add the drained nuts to the fruit and apricot juice. Stir in the orange blossom water and garnish with mint and rose petals.
Serve slightly chilled with the rosewater cream and, perhaps, a lemon madeleine cake.