It doesn't get more authentic than this classic Pakistani dessert – called 'khubani ka meetha' – which was "shared with me by my old friend Humaira," Usmani says. "Hunza apricots have a stunning toffee-like flavour and this Hyderabadi dessert is a little taste of heaven." 

Ingredients

  • 1kg Hunza apricots
  • 250g cups caster (superfine) sugar
  • 250g vanilla custard
  • 250g double cream, whipped
  • 1 tbsp blanched dry-roasted almonds, to decorate (optional)

Method

  1. The day before making the dessert, wash the dried apricots and soak them in a bowl of water overnight. The water should come up 3 fingers or 5cm above the apricots. Leave the bowl uncovered.
  2. The next day, the apricots should have doubled in size and become plump. Remove the stones carefully, without breaking the flesh.
  3. Reserve the stones and the water. In the same water, boil the stoned apricots for about 30 minutes over a medium-low heat, without stirring too much so the apricots don’t go mushy, until all the water has evaporated.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, add the sugar, without stirring too much again, and allow the sugar to dissolve and form a syrup (this takes about 5-10 minutes). Switch off the heat. The texture should be pulpy and sticky.
  5. Cover the pan with a sieve, to allow the apricots to cool and protect them from anything falling into them. As soon as the apricots are cold, place them in the fridge, or freeze until ready to use.
  6. When ready to serve, put the apricots into individual serving dishes, add a layer of custard then a layer of whipped cream. Decorate with the nuts found inside the stone of the Hunza apricot, which can be easily removed, if gently bashed out. Alternatively, decorate with blanched, dry-roasted almonds.

Summers Under the Tamarind Tree by Sumayya Usmani is published by Frances Lincoln. Photography by Joanna Yee. £20; quartoknows.com.