Monday, May 18, 2015

Maple Syrup – Qatar Style

Many Qataris don’t travel all the way to Canada, and while some do go to the US they rarely go to places like Vermont. Thus, many Qataris have never tried maple syrup. Maple syrup is sold here, you can occasionally find it in grocery stores, but like many specialty foods in Qatar you’ll see it one week when some stock comes in then you won’t see it again for months. I think most people just see a syrup bottle, assume it’s regular pancake syrup, and walk on by.

When I travel to Canada I always try to bring back maple syrup or treats like maple sugar or maple butter for people to try. One of the Qataris I gave a bottle of syrup liked it a lot so took it home for his family to try.

Fast forward a couple of months later and he gave me a bottle of maple syrup, only it looked a little different, a bit darker and had some bits of plant or something in it.

Well it turns out that a lady in the house, I think his Mother, decided to prepare the syrup the same way one can prepare an Arabic sugar syrup, by heating it and mixing it with cardamom and saffron. He said the spices really balanced the sweetness of the maple syrup and it tasted great so he gave me a bottle to try it out.

I tried it twice, once with a friend at a restaurant, and once with a family I know (who made pancakes for the occasion). Both times I also had regular maple syrup on hand for comparison. Verdict – Qatari Maple is really nice. The spices were not subtle and distinctively changed the flavour but it made it seem less sweet and with a more complex taste. I wouldn’t have a problem using either regular or Qatari syrup, two friends were of the same opinion, one preferred regular maple, and his daughter thought both the regular and Qatari syrup were great.

I don’t have the exact recipe but you heat maple syrup in a pan and add some crushed cardamom and a little bit of saffron (apparently saffron is strong enough that you don’t need to use much). After mixing let it cool then put back in the bottle, or use right away, preferably with pancakes or waffles!

Dang it, now I want some waffles. . .

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