Sweets are popular in Persian cuisine. Jams, or murumbeh, are intrinsic to preserving excess amounts of abundantly grown fruits in the region. A no-waste policy that the Parsis brought with them to India.
Growing up in Karachi, where some of the best seasonal fruits are available, we learned about and enjoyed the variety from month to month all year long. The summer was extremely hot and humid. The heat was often unbearable, but the abundance of delicious fruit to look forward to made it all worthwhile. I remember the plums being delectable. It's flavorful and just right. The abundance of it left us with overripe ones that were often turned into jam to enjoy.
With over 2,000 different varieties of plums grown around the world, the flavours range from sweet to tart to sour. While the dried plum fruit called allo bukhara, which is golden, chewy, and wrinkly by nature, is used as a flavouring in Persian cooking, the west is familiar with prunes, which are another variety of dry plum fruit.
|The beauty of this jam lies in the fact that its so simple to make.|
The garnet colour is delightful.
|The beautiful garnet colour of dark fresh plums makes this jam worth the effort.|
Makes 1 1/2 kg or 3.3 lb of jam
1.2 kg/ 2.5 lb fresh plums
550 g/ 1.25 lb sugar
juice of one lemon or lime
1/4 tsp salt
Wash the plums well.
Place the plums in a pot filled with fresh tap water. This should be halfway to the plums. Bring it to a boil, cover it, and allow it to cook on a medium flame for about 45 minutes. Turn off the stove, wait for ten minutes, and add the sugar. Mix it properly until all the sugar melts, making sure every crystal of sugar has melted. The heat will be good enough to melt it without the help of the stove. Add the lemon juice and salt. Mix it well and bring it to a rolling boil. Cook this uncovered until the right consistency is desired. It generally takes 30 to 40 minutes.
Fill sterile jars with the jam and allow them to cool completely.
Store it in the refrigerator for up to a year.
Keep the plums whole with the skin. The boiling process cooks and softens it enough to break with the back of a spoon. You can remove the stones at the end of the process or leave them all in one of the bottles.
My family used to add 2 tablespoons of good, salted butter to the mix to enhance the flavours. But it will make it cloudy!
Living in the west, where wines are easily accessible, I often add 1/4 cup of a Japanese plum wine prepared locally.Plums, peaches and nectarines are all classified as "drupes," or fruits with a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds.
My published cookbooks are available for sale through myself and on amazon.
The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022.
The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine was published in 2016 by Austin Macauley and continues to be available through amazon book depot book depository and from the publishers.Photo credit Niloufer Mavalvala.