Nour head chef Ben Williamson joined the kitchen at the Middle-Eastern restaurant in Surry Hills a couple of months ago, after a six-year stint at respected Brisbane fine diner Gerard’s Bistro. (He’ll also be opening a new Brisbane restaurant, 22 Agnes, in the coming months.)
While he hasn’t shifted from Nour’s Middle-Eastern remit – “The concept is not changing,” he told Broadsheet in May – he’s introduced other regional influences, including Persian and Turkish, to the formerly Lebanese-leaning menu. This dish, though, comes from Lebanon, and is a light and fresh end to a meal.
“Every home in Lebanon and its surrounds has its own version of ‘bouza al haleeb’,” Williamson tells Broadsheet. “The milk ice-cream is usually made from goat or sheep’s milk and is flavoured with ground orchid root (salep) and mastic gum, which also gives it its signature chewy texture. This is a regular sweet treat in Lebanon.
“With the addition of the sweet persimmons, the dish is an easy and refreshing end to any dinner party. Note that pomegranate, berries or any citrus fruits would make excellent winter substitutes.”
Milk bouza and persimmon granita
Prep time: 30 minutes
Freeze time: 10 minutes
12 large pearls of mastic, ground with a little sugar
10ml rosewater (Mymoune is the best)
2 ripe persimmons
50g pistachios, crushed
2kg very ripe Fuyu persimmons (not the astringent variety)
Start by making the persimmon granita – this will only take 5 minutes, but you need to freeze it. Juice the persimmons (don’t forget to set 2 aside for plating the dessert later) with skins on, and adjust to taste with orange-blossom water and sugar syrup. Freeze the mixture in a shallow tray.
Then prepare the bouza: combine the milk, cream, salep, mastic and rosewater and bring to the boil, constantly stirring. Chill, then churn in an ice-cream machine for 10 minutes.
Once churned, freeze in an air-tight container while you prepare the granita.
Once the granita mixture is frozen, drag a fork over the surface repeatedly to shave the ice and form the granita.
Peel the extra persimmons, then thinly slice on a mandolin.
In chilled bowls arrange the sliced persimmon, bouza, granita and pistachio. Serve immediately.