The big eat of Christmas is over, the holiday tan fading. And if everything I read in the papers is to be believed, folks are fairly depressed in Januworry. But it’s a twelfth of the year people, so I refuse to hate January. Instead I choose to celebrate high summer with an icy indulgence that puts a smile on my face without breaking the bank. Granita to the rescue!
Now if you’ve never made granita before, it’s high time. At its simplest, this chilly delight with its origins in Sicily is just pureed fruit and water that is frozen, then scratched with a fork to form grainy crystals. Most recipes these days add a bit of extra sugar in the form of a simple syrup (like what you would use for making cocktails) instead of just water. But granita is something you can really play with. Like this watermelon granita – for something a bit more complex, I added cardamom seeds to my sugar syrup as well as that quintessentially South African favourite, rooibos tea. And because I love taste counterpoints, I give it a decent squirt of fresh lime juice for a delightful tang to offset the sugary sweetness. It’s stupid easy, incredibly refreshing and dirt cheap – just the thing to overcome any January blues.
All you need is…
½ cup of sugar
1 cup water
10 cardamom pods, smashed open with the side of a chef’s knife or bashed in a pestle and mortar
2 rooibos tea bags
quarter of a giant watermelon (10 cups once pureed)
juice of 2 limes
Place the water, sugar, cardamom and rooibos in a saucepan and heat through while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat and set aside for 30 minutes to infuse. Remove tea bags and strain through a sieve to remove cardamom.
Remove seeds from watermelon and puree with a stick blender or in a food processor. Add the syrup and limejuice and stir well. Pour into a shallow dish and place in the freezer. As soon as it’s lightly frozen, scrape the granita with a fork to form rough ice crystals. (If you wait until the granita is frozen rock hard, it will be difficult to do this.) Place the granita back in the freezer until used. I usually fluff it up with a fork again just before serving.