recipes and photographs taken from cinnamon kitchen: the cookbook by vivek singh, photography by lara holmes (absolute press, £25). to buy the book at a special price, turn to reader offers on page 129
- 2 William pears (not too ripe)
- 250g caster sugar
- generous pinch saffron strands
- 5cm piece of cinnamon stick
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 2 star anise
- 50g demerara sugar
- 10 sprigs of coriander cress
For the saffron jelly
- 75g caster sugar
- a pinch saffron strands
- 1 green cardamom pod
- 1 star anise
- 1g vegetable gel or 2g agar-agar
For the raisin raita
- 200g Greek yoghurt
- 2tbsp raisins
- 1tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves and stalks
Make the jelly. Bring 100ml water to a boil in a heavy-based saucepan and stir in the sugar until it dissolves. Remove from the heat, add the saffron and leave for 30 minutes to infuse. Add the cardamom and star anise, return the pan to a low heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Whisk in the vegetable gel, stirring to dissolve. Pour into a shallow tray or mould and leave to cool and then chill for about 30 minutes, until set. Unmould and cut into cubes.
Peel the pears, leaving stems on, and place in a bowl of water to prevent discolouration. Find a saucepan that will fit the pears upright; add 600ml water, sugar, saffron, cinnamon, cardamom and star anise. Slowly bring to them boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the pears, reduce the heat and poach for 15-20 minutes, until the pears are tender, but still slightly firm. Remove pears from the poaching liquid and leave to cool. Increase the heat, bring the poaching liquid to the boil and allow it to reduce by half. Once syrupy, remove from the heat.
When the pears are cool, cut them in half lengthways and remove the cores and pips. Mix together all the ingredients for the raisin raita and spoon onto plates. Place the pear halves upright on a baking sheet, sprinkle over the demerara sugar and caramelise with a blowtorch or under a grill. Leave until the glaze becomes crisp, then add to the plates, decorate with saffron jelly, spoon over the poaching liquid, sprinkle with coriander cress and serve.