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
60g walnuts, halved
60g blanched almonds
60g pine kernels
100g dried apricots
100g golden sultanas
4 tsp orange blossom water
Six mint leaves, slivered, to garnish
Edible rose petals, to garnish
For the rosewater cream:
400ml 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 prepared apricot leather and pour over 500ml boiling water. Cover and allow to boil quite vigorously, stirring occasionally until it’s dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the fruit and set aside to cool.
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.
Suggested wine pairing from Ben, Director of Novel Wines
Ben recommends Benvenuti Corona Grande 2015, a sweet wine from Istria in northern Croatia that blends together the Ulovina, Malvasia and Muscat grape varieties. This wine takes its name from the single vineyard in which it’s grown, Corona Grande, situated 350m above sea level with its own microclimate of light winds and long sunshine hours. The Malvasija Istriana grape dominates, giving apricot and peachy notes over acacia honey, while Ulovina and Muscat add blossom, orange and raisin aromas. Ageing in wood, which the winemaker does lightly, adds complexity with hints of cinnamon, clove and barley sugar. Ben says: “I picked this wine to complement the fruit and nut notes in Kiki’s dessert, but its acidity is what makes it special, adding freshness and ensuring it doesn’t overpower the more delicate rose and mint notes in the dish.”