Once upon a time, in a land far far away (in the same galaxy though and close to my heart) my lovely mother used to make these unbelievably amazing whole-fig jam preserves that were golden and translucent – just succulent – that have long since taken on the patina of magical qualities in my memories. (I waxed poetic about this epic fig jam at some length, nestled somewhere in the text of this long-winded musing here.)
Well, figs are in season … and with a name like Fig & Quince, we’d be sadly remiss not to do a fig-centric recipe. Anyone can see that. So I begged my dear mother to make some of that old-timey-magic-fig-jam for “the good of our blog” (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it) but a pivotal ingredient, namely lime (not the citrus-fruit lime but a chemical compound used to turn fruit translucent and also used in masonry – hah!) is apparently hard to get a hold of here in the U.S. (That’s my mother’s story and she’s sticking to it.)
Imagine my disappointment! But my mom turned my long-faced gloom into zippy cheer when she showed me how to make a super-easy moraba ‘yeh anjir (fig jam) instead. I slightly revised the recipe with my mom’s nod of approval – both of us very happy with the outcome. This is such a no-brainer recipe (ridiculously easy) and the results are so good (yummy & also pretty what with that gorgeous pink syrup) that if you’ve ever had even the tiniest inkling of an urge or instinct of wanting to make your very own jams and preserves, I hesitate not to warmly nudge you to play along and make some.
Rosewater and cardamom are used sparingly but justly in this recipe, giving it a classic and wonderful Persian taste, but fret not if you don’t have one or the other – just skip both and substitute vanilla instead. The flavoring will no longer be flagrantly (and fragrantly) Persian but the fig preserves will be still delicious.
The only other thing I have left to say before delving into the recipe is that when gathering your figs, aim for small and dainty ones that are as thin-skinned as possible. Thick skin is good in life for self-preservation when the capricious hand of fate slaps you around, thin skin is good when you are a delicious fig about to be preserved and consumed with abandon.
Now without further ado, let’s make some moraba yeh anjir!
- 1 pound black or green figs (as evenly sized as possible to allow uniform cooking time)
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 lemon or lime, juiced (prevents jam from crusty-crystalization)
- 1 teaspoon rosewater
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (or one cardamom pod slightly crushed; discarded at the end) Note: you can substitute 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla in lieu of the cardamom & rosewater
- 2 cups filtered water
- Wash and dry figs. Do not remove the stems.
- Puncture each fig 3 times -on each side- with a fork. (This is so the fig can release its nectar.)
- Transfer figs to a big bowl and pour sugar over the figs. Make sure all the figs are nicely covered and coated with sugar. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to sit overnight. (During this time, the figs will hopefully release their juice which will turn somewhat syrupy combined with the softening sugar.)
- When it’s time, pour the figs and its sugar syrup into a pot. Add water, the lemon/lime juice, and the cardamom pod. (If you’re using cardamom powder do not add it now- wait till the next step.) Bring pot to a slow-bubble gentle boil. Reduce heat to low and with the lid ajar, simmer fig and syrup gently for 1 to maybe 1 1/2 hour. Check occasionally and stir. (Tip: you’ll know your jam is ready when the syrup is neither watery nor too thick or viscous. Use own discretion and trust your judgment.)
- In the last 10 minutes, add 1 teaspoon of rosewater, and 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom powder (unless you’ve already used a cardamom pod) and gently stir to mix. (Or, use vanilla in lieu of the rosewater and cardamom.)
- Allow to cool. Pick figs by the stems and place in a sterilized jar. Pour syrup over the figs. Close lid and refrigerate.
Moraba ‘yeh anjir is delicious with bread (and some butter, or feta cheese, or goat cheese), with yogurt, with heavy cream, with ice cream. With fingers!
For an impulsive sugar fix: open jar’s lid, pick up fig by stem, gobble up and count your blessings. Then count your fingers to make sure you didn’t eat one by mistake.
In sealed sterilized jars your fig jam should keep up to 6 months. Don’t worry though, it will disappear well before its expiration date.
Make it, enjoy it, and noosheh jaan!