Pomegranate panna cotta with pear & basil jelly

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Appears in

Fusion: A Culinary Journey


By Peter Gordon

Published 2010

  • About

Pomegranates originated in the Middle East, somewhere in Persia, between Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. They are a fruit mentioned in all the main religions originating from the region, and remnants have been found which date back thousands of years. Funnily enough, even though they’re incredibly exotic and don’t grow in the UK, my partner Michael remembers eating them in south London as a wee boy back in the 1950s. So, it might be fair to say they’ve been part of the British diet for a while. They’re surely one of the most beautiful fruit, but you need to make sure you pick the seeds properly or they can have a bitter taste. The best way to prepare them is to wear gloves and an apron. Cut the fruit around the outside with a small sharp knife, avoiding cutting in too deep as the white pithy flesh is bitter. Pull the two halves apart and then ‘tear’ each half in two, folding them back on themselves, as though turning them inside out, and pick the seeds out. The pomegranate molasses I tend to use in my cooking comes from Lebanon, but I also use Jordanian and Turkish varieties that work really well. Some are quite bitter so taste it first - you may need to add a little more sugar to the recipe. Serve this with a crunchy biscuit like biscotti or a nutty 7 tuile.


  • 6 leaves gelatine
  • 320 ml chilled pressed pear juice (if you can only get watery pear juice then you’ll need to add an extra half sheet of gelatine)
  • 10 g basil leaves - the leaves from 6 leafy stalks
  • 90 g sugar
  • 400 ml cream
  • 300 ml milk
  • 30 ml (2 Tbsp) grenadine
  • 40 ml (2 Tbsp + 2 tsp) pomegranate molasses
  • pomegranate seeds to garnish


First make the jelly. You’ll need eight jelly moulds able to hold around 200 ml each. Soak two leaves gelatine in icy cold water. Heat 50 ml of the pear juice almost to boiling point, drain the gelatine and mix it into the hot liquid until dissolved. Mix in the remaining juice and put to the side. Leave the juice to cool to room temperature. Using a pestle and mortar, pound the basil leaves with 30 g of the sugar until you’ve made a paste then mix this into the cooled pear juice. Pour 3 Tablespoons into each jelly mould. Place on a tray and leave to set in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Once the jelly has set, make the panna cotta. Bring the cream, milk and remaining sugar almost to the boil. Take off the heat, pour into a metal bowl (ideally) and stir in the grenadine. Soak the remaining 4 leaves gelatine in icy cold water for a few minutes, then drain and add to the now pink cream, mixing them in until completely dissolved. Sit the bowl in an ice bath to help it cool down quicker, although this isn’t essential. After a few minutes mix in the pomegranate molasses. You’ll notice the mixture thickens a little when you add this, which is fine. Once the mixture has cooled to body temperature, or cooler, you can carefully ladle it on top of the jelly. If you add it while it’s still hot, you won’t get a clean line between the jelly and the panna cotta. Place in the fridge to firm up, then cover with plastic wrap and leave to set fully, preferably overnight.

To Serve

Either dip the moulds very briefly in hot water, or carefully run hot water over their upturned moulds. Shake them a little from side to side, then invert over a plate and tip out. Garnish with pomegranate seeds.