Persian Quince Jam with Cardamom and Rosewater For Breakfast

27 Oct

Quince are  large yellow knobbly apple-shaped fruits that have a slightly floral flavour and ripen in the Autumn. On the tree they have a white furry layer over their skin that will probably be rubbed off if you see them for sale. You see old Spanish ladies buying  bags full at the market. They will be boiling up huge pots of them to make Carne de Membrillo, a sweet quince paste that is traditionally served with a nice cured Manchego cheese. Chica Andaluza has the recipe if you are interested.

I fancied making something a little different with my very modest single kilo of the fragrant fruit. It’s a very similar thing but comes via Persia to this table.

As I have mentioned before, in the summer we were cooking lunch for an Iranian family for a few weeks. We used to arrive every morning at about 11am  after shopping for the day’s food. As we were unpacking the shopping they would still be finishing off their breakfast. Breakfast was a long and luxurious family occasion that I found fascinating. The table was generously laid with breads, cheeses, fresh fruit, dried fruits, nuts, honey, yoghurt, tahini and cinnamon pancakes that one of the husbands made every day. A bowl of Bran Flakes and a quick cup of coffee it was not.

The family live in different cities all over the world but meet up once a year for a holiday together. On the first night, the Grandma arrived from Paris on a very late flight carrying a huge jar (like 5 litres) of something that looked like homemade chutney or jam. How on earth did she get that through customs? The daughters and granddaughters were very pleased though, it was obviously a family favourite that no holiday would be complete without.

I found out the next morning, when they let me taste some, that it was a very special quince jam that their Grandma had always made that they all loved. It took pride of place every morning on that amazing breakfast table. A perfect match for the cheese, like our very own Dulce de Membrillo.

She didn’t speak any English and my French is very rusty but I managed to get that there was cardamom in there, I could see the little black seeds too. The recipe is obviously a very closely guarded family secret because she always very politely managed to avoid telling me anything more. It was delicious, I can see why she was so protective of it.

So this is a recipe I found on the internet, it tastes very similar but not as good as Grandma’s obviously. The quince flesh turns from a very pale yellow when raw to a bright coral or even a rich ruby-red when cooked. It depends how long you cook it for and how often you open the lid. If you cover the pot with a tea towel and then put on the lid while cooking (and don’t peek) it goes darker like mine. I may have overdone it slightly I think.

Persian Quince Jam Recipe

Makes about 1 large jar, vegan, gluten-free. Adapted from Turmeric & Saffron

  • I used 4 quince (about 900 g), washed, cored & cubed or sliced (you can peel it too if you like)
  • 250 g sugar
  • 500 ml water
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 cardamom pods, bashed to open them
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 or 2 tbsp rosewater

Remove any dark bits in the fruit and squeeze half the lemon over the chopped pieces to stop discolouration.

Put the water and sugar in a large saucepan, bring to the boil then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered for 5-7 minutes.  Add a splash more water if it is drying out.

Add the ground cardamom, the bashed cardamom pods and the quince to the sugar syrup, stir well, bring back to the boil and add 2 tbsp lemon juice. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the top with a tea towel then put on the lid. Simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until reduced and jam-like. Check it very occasionally and stir gently.

Add a tablespoon of rosewater and simmer for another few minutes. Carefully taste and add more rosewater if you like.

Pour or spoon the hot jam into sterilised jars, seal and leave to cool. When cool store in the fridge.

Serve for breakfast with a creamy smooth cheese or yoghurt on toasted bread. Or go for the whole breakfast feast and fill the table with fresh fruit, gorgeous breads, a selection of cheeses, dried fruits, nuts, honey, yoghurt and cinnamon pancakes.

Take the time to sit down and enjoy a long leisurely weekend breakfast.


14 Responses to “Persian Quince Jam with Cardamom and Rosewater For Breakfast”

  1. spree October 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm #

    Would love to get my hands on Persian Quince, and if I could, they’d follow in the steps of ours!

  2. Enchanted Seashells October 27, 2012 at 5:58 pm #

    I’d be tempted to dab a bit behind my ears…sounds very fragrant and perfume-like AND delicious!!

  3. frugalfeeding October 27, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

    Gorgeous ingredients! This sounds so flavourful!

  4. peasepudding October 27, 2012 at 8:23 pm #

    Lovely with the cardamon and rosewater. I roast some aubergine while I had the char ole grill on last night, you inspired me to make Babaganoush.

  5. El Oso con Botas October 27, 2012 at 11:32 pm #

    I make the persian orange jam with cardamom and its really a full of flavory one. I have to try this one also.

    • tony ward October 28, 2012 at 9:29 am #

      sounds delice guapa, and the thoughts of a long lingering breakfast

  6. Three Well Beings October 29, 2012 at 4:46 am #

    I’m sure I have never paid any attention to quince before. You’ve made it really clear that it’s a beautiful and special fruit. I’m glad to know that. And I love the story of the Iranian family’s attention to breakfast and the art of starting the day with such a delightful pastime. It’s enviable! Lovely story and wonderful jam, Natalie!

  7. Chica Andaluza November 2, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    Hi Natalie – what a very beautiful recipe this is – and I love that you tracked down your version after the family Grandma managed to keep hers secret! Thanks too for the link – too kind!

  8. narf77 November 5, 2012 at 10:13 pm #

    Now THIS recipe really excited me! What a mouthful of Persian flavours! I can’t wait to ferret out some persimmons to go with my friends quinces to make this exquisite looking jam. Thank you SO much for this amazing recipe 🙂

  9. Elizabeth Mars May 25, 2013 at 2:45 am #

    This looks lovely, just got some quinces from the market so I’ve been googling quince jam and just discovered your blog. Gorgeous vegetarian food I’m amazed I haven’t stumbled across it before. I will have to come back again.

  10. Mary May 30, 2013 at 2:24 am #

    Yum yum yum and wow! I made this Persian Quince Jam last night, because after reading through it, it reminded me so much of the Quince Jam my middle eastern grandmother used to make for us as children. This morning for breakfast this wonderfully fragrant and uniquely flavoured jam took me back to my childhood. I can’t wait to give my father a jar when i see him tomorrow. Thank you

    • Mary September 15, 2014 at 6:57 am #

      Well I made this beautiful jam again this year but decided to use cloves instead of the cardamom as my father said his mother used. It was equally as divine!

  11. sarie herbst June 3, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    Sounds gorgeous!


  1. Sweet Quince, Fennel Seed and Pistachio Sambousek Pastries « Cook Eat Live Vegetarian - October 29, 2012

    […] made these little pastries using the Persian Quince Jam from last post but you could use any jam you like. I have used this lovely fig & honey […]

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