'What's that Mamma?' she asked, a curious twinkle in her eye. I glanced over to see where her finger was pointing. 'That's rhubarb,' I said. An incredulous giggle escaped her. 'That's not Rabab!' It was my turn to laugh. Rabab is a friend of Maryams and she certainly doesn't look like a ruby red sword sitting comfortably on the supermarket shelf.
She grabbed the rhubarb from the shelf- 'See Mamma, this isn't Rabab.' I explained to her that rhubarb was actually a fruit. One that we hadn't eaten or experimented with ever. 'Like strawberries?' Hmmmmm, not quite. We put it into the trolley and I promised we would transform it into something magical.
When we got home, I had forgotten but she had not. 'Can I eat Rabab?' As I carefully washed the woody stalk, I wondered what I would do with it. I have never eaten or cooked with rhubarb so I knew I wanted to do something simple.
And what could be more simple than compote- sophisticated and uncomplicated. Maryam grabbed a small piece and put it into her mouth. The pained expression on her face told me she wasn't a fan. 'Once it's cooked, it will taste much nicer, sweeter.'
I quickly tossed the pretty rubies in sugar whilst throwing together the rest of the ingredients in the blender for the crepes. In no time at all, we had paper thin cardamom crepes topped with the prettiest pink compote I have ever seen. Some finely chopped pistachios to garnish....just because everything tastes better with nuts.
Maryam was unsure about putting the cooked rhubarb into her mouth- once bitten, twice shy, no? With some reassurance, she did. Although there wasn't that pained expression on her face, she didn't ask for seconds. That's OK though. She doesn't have to like every fruit. At least she tried though.
The crepes, however, she loved. Topped with plain icing sugar. Gobble gobble gobble and then lick lick lick the dust of icing sugar from around her lips. 'Yummy in my tummy,' she squealed. I had never heard that expression from her before but it's once I hope to hear many many times.
And so that is the story of how we both discovered rhubarb!
Cardamom Crepes with Rhubarb Compote
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup milk
½ cup soda water
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbs butter, melted and cooled
½ tsp cardamom powder
Melted butter for frying
2 cups chopped rhubarb
¼ cup caster sugar
Mix all the ingredients in a blender and mix until the batter is smooth and lump free. If lumps remain, sieve the batter. Let it rest for at least an hour or more.
In a non stick frying pan set over medium heat, ladle approximately 1/3 cup batter at a time (the amount will depend on how big your pan is) and swirl the batter around the pan. Cook for about 1-2 minutes. You can add a few drops of butter to help lift the edges off to flip the pancake over. Cook for a further minute on the other side. Serve immediately with icing sugar or rhubarb compote.
To make the compote, cook the rhubarb and sugar until the rhubarb is soft (less than 5 minutes). Serve with crepes warm.
Makes 10 crepes.