I have had a life long aversion to rhubarb, ever since childhood. We grew a lot of rhubarb and it was served, stringy and under-sweetened at almost every meal while in season. It has taken until this year, decades later, for me to try it again. And only because I was given some rhubarb from a friend’s garden.
You will love this recipe. It is an alternative to your rhubarb with apples, or rhubarb pie. The jaggery adds that sweet earthiness, cloves add their magic, black pepper brings a bite without tasting peppery, and the poppy seeds add much needed texture.
I have used some of my Gin Soaked Cumquats to enliven the dish – it does need a little acid and these bring a sweet acidity to the dish. You can alternatively add some charred, sugar dipped lemon slices, candied orange or lemon peel, a little (just a little) pomegranate molasses or quince molasses, or even, if desperate, a squeeze of lemon.
Sweet Rhubarb with Cloves and Black Pepper, Poppy Seeds and Gin Soaked Cumquats
1 bunch rhubarb
0.25 cup water
3 Tblspn jaggery or white or brown sugar
3 or 4 cloves
2 pinches ground black pepper
1 tspn black poppy seeds
2 Gin Soaked Cumquats
plain yoghurt or clotted cream, to serve (optional)
Remove and discard the rhubarb leaves. Wash the stems and cut into 5 cm lengths.
Dissolve the sugar in the water over low heat in a non-corrodible saucepan. Add the cloves and black pepper. Then add the rhubarb and cook until it is soft but not disintegrated – this will take anywhere from 5 – 15 mins, depending on your rhubarb. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with the poppy seeds.
Slice the gin soaked cumquats and dot around the rhubarb. Serve with yoghurt or clotted cream, if desired.
recipe notes and alternatives
Roast the rhubarb – macerate with the sugar, pepper and pinch cinnamon for an hour or more, stirring occasionally. Tip onto an oven tray lined with baking paper or foil and roast 200C for about 8 – 10 mins. Watch it carefully – you are looking for rhubarb that is soft but holding its shape. Continue as above, pouring a little of the cumquat gin over the rhubarb.