Barely any recipes with fresh figs can be found in traditional Arab cookbooks. Instead, they were enjoyed fresh or preserved in recipes like this one. Here, the fruit is cooked whole in a spiced sugar syrup for just 30 minutes, so the final product has a shorter shelf life than jam. Not to worry, says chef Muzna Bishara, it’s rare that leftovers go uneaten. The preserve can be spread on slices of bread or added to desserts like dried fig malabi, a sweet milky pudding.
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted in a dry pan (optional)
Mix the sugar and water in a heavy-bottom pot. Place over a medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a low heat and cook until the syrup thickens, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, use a toothpick or fork to pierce holes in the figs. This will allow them to absorb the syrup while they.
Add the lemon juice and cinnamon stick to the pot and mix. Carefully add the figs, adding them one at a time. Cover the pot and cook the figs over a low heat, occasionally stirring gently until the figs are glossy and the sugar syrup thickens, about 30 minutes.
Add the anise and sesame seeds (if using), remove from the heat and cool.
Transfer the whole figs gently to a sterilized jar and pour the syrup to cover. The preserve will keep for up to 3 months in the fridge.