This is one my most exciting ventures in the kitchen – I am still rollicking with Verge’s Cooking with Fruits books. The thing about such books is while we want to remain completely true to the recipe, they often also kindle creativity and allows your brain to fantasize a new and exciting way of using the fruits, which would in certain ways, be more suitable to one’s own palate – don’t you agree?
The other wonderful realization that dawned on me preserves are the western pachadis – seriously! We make pachadis with just about any fruit- so also does the west make preserves with just about any fruit! I am catching myself doing what I do too often – trying to find parallel between cultures so we can find a point of intersection – I firmly hold the belief that food brings people together like nothing else can!
I also need to share a short story behind making this. We had gone for a vacation to Bermuda and for those do not know, Bermuda is quite famous for their Gombeys folk dance comprising of African, Native American for dance and British influences in the music. And the hot& sweet preserves are a huge tourist attraction and of course being the gourmands that we are, we bought a six pack back home one more flavorful than the other, the spice making our hair stand on edge, while the sweet overtones try to soften the explosion that is to follow as the last flavor of the habanero, jalapeno and Serrano peppers emerge in full throttle ☺ We had it on crackers, on bread, with chapatis and with English muffins – they were Da bomb!
Having said that, I needed to try and recreate something similar if not the same before I forgot the flavors! They do not provide their recipes on the label! So if you go to Bermuda anytime, do not miss out on the Gombey preserves!
Here is my recipe for this preserve
Prep time 5-10 minutes
Cooking time – 10-15 min
1lb box of fresh strawberries
1 habanero pepper
1-inch sized ginger (about 2tbsp grated)
½ cup Agave nectar
½ cup Orange Blossom Honey
1 packet pectin (roughly 1tbsp)
Wash strawberries thoroughly and cut the heads off
Remove the head of the habanero
In a blender, add the strawberries and the habanero and grind – do not use any water
Grate the ginger with the finer side of the grater
Ready a saucepan
Add the puree quickly followed by the honey and agave
Add the grated ginger as well
Let them cook together for about 3-4 minutes
In 1tsp of water, mix the pectin like you would besan to thicken sauce.
Gently dribble it into the pan stirring swiftly as you do it so that you do not encounter knots or white balls of unbroken pectin!
Allow it t thicken some and switch off
Come morning, find a nice bottle to transfer it into – you will have the perfect consistency of a jam/preserve
The other thing you will notice is the spiciness of the jam from the previous night would have tempered down a bit and will only get you at the very end of the taste – so that part coincided with the Gombey preserves we bought and I was quite relieved and happy that I was able to recreate a similar taste without using too many preservatives. Enjoy with dosa, idlis and the usual food mates like bread and pancakes!