The mere mention of certain smells and flavours bring back floods of childhood memories so intense that they stop me dead in my tracks. Rose cordial with ice-cold milk in a tall glass takes me straight back to the steps of my grandmother’s porch where I use to sit sipping it slowly so that it would last for as long as possible.
Gum mastic (a dried resin from the mastic tree) was reassuringly present in many sweet dishes and breads, its distinctive cedar like flavour adds an extra dimension and it’s difficult to imagine Turkish delight without it.
Rose and gum mastic are such a big part of the East Med flavour tapestry; gum mastic in particular is used in many different ways in both savoury and sweet dishes because of its gelatine like quality.
This pot is full of flavour, colour and memories not just my own but anyone who has travelled to the East Med cannot fail but travel back at the first spoonful. The yogurt and rose combination is velvety soft and rich while the pomegranate seeds give it a little crunch and zing. I have added sweet walnuts as a garnish, a common sweet preserve (others include quince and watermelon). A jar of the sweet walnuts is worth a purchase, I am thinking of planting a few in a chocolate brownies or ganache.
This is such an easy dessert to make even for a dessert shy person like me.
200g of full fat Greek yogurt
80g of pitted dates, chopped
60g of pistachios kernels, roughly crushed
3 tablespoons of pomegranate seeds
4 teaspoons of rose cordial
The juice of half of an orange
Half a teaspoon of crushed gum mastic (a small crystal)
Half a teaspoon of caster sugar
The juice of half of a lemon
One walnut in syrup
- In a pestle and mortar crush the gum mastic crystal with the sugar into a fine powder.
- Squeeze the juice of half of an orange into a small saucepan and add the crushed gum mastic and sugar powder. Gently heat and stir until the powder dissolves. Set aside and allow it to cool completely.
- In a bowl stir the cordial into the yogurt in stages to ensure that the flavour is to taste, rose cordial has a strong flavour. Gently stir in the pomegranate seeds but keep a few for garnish and set aside.
- Place the crushed pistachios in two glasses but hold back few to garnish.
- Poor the cool orange juice with the gum mastic into the pots over the pistachios.
- Add the dates to each pot and push down firmly and then squeeze the lemon juice on top of the dates.
- Spoon the yogurt mixture into each pot and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon.
- Slice the walnut and add to the top along with the pomegranates and pistachio.
- Put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to chill.