Everyone I know who had a Jewish grandma has tasted dried fruit compote at least once in life. Compote is a lovely sounding French word that means “mixture” and it usually means a mixture of fruit cooked in sugar syrup.
My Jewish grandma, who made this dish, (of course) called it “kumput,” which made all of us kids giggle at the sound of it. Also, as I recall, none of us liked this dish and we made a lot of jokes about the fact that it often included prunes, which we knew, even then, did —- well, everyone knows what prunes do. (Are prunes still the object of kid jokes?)
I think one has to be older and more sophisticated to eat and appreciate dried fruit compote. Anyway, that’s what happened to me — as I got older I tried it again and liked it.
My cousin Leslie, who is only one year younger than I am, however, says the dish still gives her the “willies.”
Because I associate dried fruit compote with Jewish grandmas, I was a little surprised when, on a recent visit to Egypt, the dish was prominent on every breakfast buffet at every place we went.
Yes, I ate it with yogurt, and what a treat it was.
But it isn’t my grandma’s kumput.
It’s called khoshaf, a Muslim specialty that is often served to break the Ramadan fast. But also, from what I found, widely available at other times too.
Khoshaf is different from grandma’s kumput in one very important way. It isn’t stewed, isn’t cooked at all, so the fruit never completely softens. It stays firm and pleasantly chewy after soaking in hot, sweet syrup.
Frankly, it tastes better and the texture is better than grandma’s kumput. In fact my cousin Leslie, who tried it at my house recently, said even she thought it was delicious.
So, here’s the recipe:
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup apricot nectar
1/4 cup (or more to taste) sugar
1 tablespoon orange flower water, rosewater or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 lemon or orange cut into quarters
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup prunes or dried plums
1 cup dried figs, halved or quaretred, depending on size
1 cup raisins
chopped pistachio nuts
Combine the water, apricot nectar and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until slightly syrupy. Remove from the heat and stir in the flavoring. Pour over the fruit and toss ingredients. Let rest for at least one hour, tossing the ingredients occasionally. Sprinkle with nuts and serve. Makes 6-8 servings