Rhubarb-and-rose cream with rhubarb twirls

Rhubarb-and-rose cream with rhubarb twirls

Mark Roper

In her lovely book The Legendary Cuisine of Persia, Margaret Shaida writes that the Persian word for rhubarb – reevas – means ‘shining light’. Rhubarb is a plant with ancient and holy connections: Zoroastrians believe the human race emerged from the rhubarb plant, which in turn grew from supreme being Ahura Mazda’s first earthly creation. Certainly, Persians make great use of it in their cooking – for both savoury khoresht and sweet sherbets – and it has important medicinal value as a digestive and as a ‘cold’ ingredient.

Rhubarb’s tart flavour marries beautifully with sugar, orange, ginger and rosewater in this creamy dessert. Serve in pretty bowls, or set in dariole moulds and turn out.


Quantity Ingredient
370g rhubarb stalks, chopped
50ml orange juice
2 1/2 tablespoons caster sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped
150g soft brown sugar
2 leaves titanium-grade gelatine
2 teaspoons rosewater
lime juice, squeezed
370g thick natural yoghurt
300ml thickened cream
molasses or caramel, to garnish, (optional)
1 teaspoon ground ginger

Rhubarb twirls

Quantity Ingredient
100g caster sugar
100ml water
4 long rhubarb stalks, trimmed to an even length


  1. Preheat the oven to 100ºC and line a baking tray with baking paper. To make the rhubarb twirls, dissolve the sugar in the water in a small, heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat, stirring from time to time. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool a little.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, slice each stalk length-wise into wafer-thin, pink-edged ribbons. You can do this side-on or down the face of each stalk, depending on how wide you’d like your ribbons. Dip each one in the sugar syrup, then lay them out flat on the lined tray. Bake for 50–60 minutes, or until the ribbons are starting to colour a lovely golden brown. Remove a ribbon from the tray and allow to cool. If it doesn’t crisp up as it cools, return the tray to the oven and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  3. Transfer the rhubarb to a wire rack and gently twist each ribbon along its length to form long twirls. Leave to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. If the twirls soften, they can be re-crisped in a warm oven.
  4. Bring the rhubarb, orange juice, caster sugar, cinnamon stick and vanilla pod to a boil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat, then cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time.
  5. When the rhubarb has collapsed to a pulp, remove from the heat and cool for a few minutes, then push through a sieve into a measuring jug – you need about 250 ml purée.
  6. Return the measured purée to a clean saucepan, then add the soft brown sugar and warm gently. Meanwhile, soften the gelatine leaves in cold water for 2 minutes, then squeeze dry. Stir the gelatine into the warm rhubarb, then add the rosewater and lime juice and remove from the heat. Set aside to cool completely.
  7. Gently whisk the yoghurt and cream together. Fold in the cold rhubarb purée until evenly combined. Pour into little serving dishes or lightly oiled dariole moulds and leave to set in the refrigerator for 4–6 hours.
  8. Turn out the creams, if using dariole moulds. Garnish with rhubarb twirls and a drizzle of molasses.
Middle Eastern
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