Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cool ingredient: Jallab syrup

While browsing amongst the shelves of my favourite local Middle-Eastern bakery/grocery (every neighbourhood should have one), I came across the bottle of luscious dark goodness that is jallab. It is a sticky syrup, Levantine in origin, made from dates (or grapes) and sugar, scented with rosewater. The combination is heavenly. I'd wager this kind of product dates back hundreds of years, since before sugar became widely available; in those days, grapes and dates were boiled down into a kind of honey substitute.

Now that many gourmands have got wise to fragrant Persian cotton candy and the tart delights of pomegranate molasses, perhaps jallab will be the next chic ingredient to cross over from the Middle-Eastern kitchen to the mainstream.

How do you use it? Traditionally it is mixed with water and served over ice, then topped with pine nuts or pistachios. Very refreshing, although the nuts seem like an odd addition to a drink.

Beyond that, just think of it as a sweet syrupy topping or a cordial. Pour over shaved ice for a Persian-style sharbat or mixed with mineral water it makes a fantastic soft drink, while its also great stirred into natural yoghurt. Or you can mix it with tahini paste and spread it on bread. Drizzle it over vanilla ice cream or poached fruit. Or mix it with vodka and soda, which is clearly not halal but delicious anyway.

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1 comment:

  1. I stumbled upon this in a Middle Eastern market and love it. It's not halal, but replacing the Triple Sec/Cointreau in a classic Cosmopolitan recipe yields an amazing cocktail.