Ginger-poached pears with pomegranate and poppy seeds

Ginger-poached pears with pomegranate and poppy seeds

Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast
Emma Lee

There is an Indian sweet, murabba, which is effectively poached fruit or vegetables in a super-sweet syrup, so they are candied and can be stored for months. This dessert, much loved by my father, always seemed to me to be a waste of good produce, as the end result tastes of sugar and not much else. On the other hand, I love fruits being elevated to pudding status, and poaching a pear is a really elegant and easy way of doing so. The ginger here really complements pears, while the pomegranate seeds help create a dramatic plate and add a lovely astringency and fresh burst of flavour.


Quantity Ingredient
100g caster sugar, plus 3 rounded tablespoons for the pomegranate syrup
1 lime, juiced
30g root ginger, peeled and coarsely grated
4 firm but ripe pears
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
600ml pomegranate juice
creme fraiche, to serve
1/2 pomegranate, seeded
8 mint leaves


  1. Place 1 litre of water and the sugar in a saucepan large enough to hold the pears, and bring to the boil, stirring all the time to help the sugar dissolve. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the lime juice and ginger. Peel the pears, then halve, core and slice each half into three wedges. Slip straight into the water. Bring back to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently until the pears yield completely to the point of a knife and appear to be slightly glazed, 18–25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pears from the poaching liquor, making sure you leave the ginger in the pot. Reserve the pears. Continue to simmer the liquid for eight to 10 minutes, until it is a light syrup and the ginger looks glazed. Take off the heat; remove and reserve the glazed ginger.
  2. Dry-roast the poppy seeds in a pan (I use a cast-iron one), shaking often for a couple of minutes until aromatic. If using pistachios, dry-roast these until lightly toasted. Whichever you used, remove them from the pan to prevent further cooking.
  3. When ready to serve, pour the pomegranate juice with the 3 tablespoons of extra sugar into a pan and bring to a boil. Simmer until the bubbles have enough viscosity to remain on top of the sauce and it has reduced to a thin syrup (it will continue to thicken off the heat).
  4. Meanwhile, divide the slices of pear between four plates, spooning the glazed ginger over. Add a good dollop of cold crème fraîche and drizzle over a little of the hot pomegranate syrup (you will have some left, which is delicious and versatile and can be used for everything from spooning over yogurt to sweetening black tea).
  5. Sprinkle with a pinch of poppy seeds, scatter over some pomegranate seeds and mint leaves and serve.
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