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Growing up in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tahmina Ghaffer recalls a childhood surrounded by young families coming together to share meals. In the warm evenings, the families would enjoy long, communal dinners of korma and always plenty of rice. They would sip cardamom tea with sugared almonds and cookies.
But in 1993, warring factions in Afghanistan forced Ghaffer and her family to flee, crossing through central Asia and eventually finding a new home in Rotterdam, Netherlands. The violence in Afghanistan has made it impossible for Ghaffer to return to her homeland, but thanks to family connections in the region, she was able to connect with two farming families who could supply saffron for her new company, Moonflowers Co. The brand sells premium saffron, all picked by female farmers in the country’s Herat region.
“Being part of the Afghan diaspora always made me feel connected to my country of birth,” Ghaffer says. “Seeing the suffering in Afghanistan made [me see] selling saffron from Afghanistan as my calling. I had to give back to those who didn’t have the same chances, especially women. According to statistics, Afghanistan is the worst country to be born in as a woman. I want to be part of the change to this. I want to empower those women.”
For this saffron peach jam recipe, Ghaffer combines peak summer peaches with floral saffron, which amplifies the golden orange color of the fruit and brings a heady fragrance to her morning toast, which she enjoys with a smear of labne and a sprinkle of fresh herbs.
Tahmina Ghaffer’s Saffron Peach Jam Recipe
- Start with blanching the peaches: Bring a pot of water with the salt to a boil. Prepare an ice bath at the same time. Score the peaches with the end of your knife and create a X shape, don’t cut too deeply in the flesh though. Boil the peaches for 1 minute and then transfer the peaches to the ice bath. Remove the skin of the peaches using your hands. Place the skinned peaches on a cutting board and slice them.
- Grind about 25 threads (2 pinches) of saffron with your mortar and pestle (you can also use the back of a spoon). Add a pinch of sugar to ease the grinding.
- In a cast iron pot, place all your ingredients (the cut peaches, lemon juice, sugar and saffron) and cook over medium heat. Stir well, so all the ingredients are mixed together. “I like when my jam has texture, so I choose not to smash the peaches,” Ghaffer notes. “If you prefer it smashed, you can use a potato masher.”
- Cook the jam for about 35 minutes on medium heat or until it has reached about 210 degrees F. Remove from heat and test the jam by placing a spoonful on a plate, running your finger through it. If the liquid doesn’t run back together, it’s good to go.