I remember that back yard apricot tree with fruit full of sweetness and flavour. I remember picking the fruit, and eating them still hot from the sun with juice running down my chin. I remember picking them, twisting the fruit in half and throwing them onto a hot BBQ to cook just enough to melt some icecream over and eat on a stinking hot, 40 degree C day.
Times have changed. Rather than full and ripe, the interior is like cotton wool. These dry’ish, cardboard-y apricots that we get locally are not really worth the investment. The only saving grace is that one or two shops sell the good ones – but you have to hunt those shops out yourself, because those in the know are not telling!
Good old Nigel Slater is quite eloquent about the lack of flavour of apricots in England – and I can so imagine them being even more bland than our current ones, as they do need the heat of summer to bring out the full flavours. He says in Kitchen Diaries II :
Elusive, capricious and frustrating, the apricot can infuriate more often than it delights, leaving anyone to wondering anyone would bother with its pale orange, cotton-wool flesh.
He says that with a little help on the heat front (with an oven, or in my case, a BBQ), and sugar in copious amounts, and some flavourings, Apricots can sing again.
Let me be clear – I prefer fruit in the hand, succulent and full of flavour. But once in a while, baking them is an amazing alternative. The flavour of this dish is intense! Thanks, Nigel. If you celebrate Pancha Ganapati in December, this is a perfect dish for Day 5, 25th December, when the colour is orange.
Bake them in the oven or BBQ
This dish can be baked using your oven or in a covered BBQ. I did not use a lid for my BBQ but if you are cooking on an uncovered BBQ, fashion a lid out of foil if you are using a dish without a lid.
Honey or Sugar
The honey can be replaced by sugar if you are following Ayurvedic principles or prefer sugar to honey.
The pic shows them just out of the BBQ, still bubbling away.
Baked Apricots with Honey and Orange, baked in an oven or BBQ.
Source : adapted from Kitchen Diaries II by Nigel Slater
Cuisine: perhaps British?
Prep time: 3 mins
Cooking time: 15 – 20 mins
Serves:as many as you wish, easily adjustable
The best apricots that you can find, but even average apricots will be good cooked this way. Use 1.5 – 2 apricots per person
Honey or sugar
1 – 2 oranges, depending on how many apricots you are baking
Orange Flower Water or orange flavoured liqueur (optional)
Split the apricots in half and remove the stone. Place them into a backing dish so that they fit snugly. Drizzle honey or sprinkle sugar over the apricots – you can be quite liberal.
Grate the zest of one of the oranges over the apricots. The halve the orange or oranges and squeeze orange juice over the fruit. You do not need a lot of juice – you don’t want the apricots swimming in it – just enough to provide enough moisture for the apricots to bake in. Keep in mind that the fruit will release some of their own juices during the cooking process.
Add about a teaspoon of orange flower water or orange liqueur – this step is optional.
I also sprinkled over a little of the amchur spice powder, as I happen to like its tang and what it does to fruit, but you may not have this on hand. Don’t fret, leave it out.
Bake in a 180C – 200C oven until bubbly and soft. Alternatively, heat your covered BBQ to about 200C, and place the dish onto the roasting rack. It takes about 20 mins to cook, but check your oven or BBQ occasionally to ensure proper progress. For example, fan forced ovens will cook quicker than traditional ovens. There is a lot of variation in timings depending on your oven.
Serve over pudding or icecream, or you can even eat for breakfast over muesli.
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