The Monzu - Watermelon Jelly alla Religiosa

Time to look back again at recipes by great Sicilian old times chefs, I Monzu, and monsieur Luigi Maddi in particular, with his watermelon jelly, Gelatina di Popone alla Religiosa, for my Sicilian dessert recipes series.

As I have already explained in a previous post, Maddi was born in Catania in 1860 and trained under the guidance of Casimiro Urna, who directed the kitchen of Prince Manganelli.
Over the years, he worked for various aristocratic families and worked also abroad following the Duke of Palazzo. He returned to Sicily in 1904 and was employed by Baron Cerami.
He controbuted regularly to Italian food magazines of the time and published some of his recipes even in the French magazine "La cuisine Francaise et Etrangere" between 1902 and 1904.

Today's recipe Gelatina di Popone alla Religiosa (watermelon jelly à la religieuses) was published in 1905, just a year after he returned to Sicily, on the Rivista Italiana d'Arte Culinaria (Milan-October 15, 1905).


1.5 litres fresh watermelon juice
500gr sugar
150gr starch
10gr cinnamon


Melt starch(1) in a glass of watermelon juice. When the starch is completely dissolved add the remaining juice, sugar and cinnamon water(2) prepared in advance. Boil this mixture for three minutes(3). Then fold in some pistachio nuts(4), previously halved and cubes of candied pumpkin. Pour the mixture into individual moulds. Leave them in a cool spot and serve when the gelatina has set.

1) As for the starch, you can use simple wheat starch or corn starch.
2) I think that when Chef Maddi mentioned "cinnamon water" he probably referred to cinnamon sticks previously left to soak into water to take all the flavour out, today we could simply add some freshly ground cinnamon instead).
3) When placing the mixture on the fire, keep stirring until it thickens.
4) You can also use chocolate chips instead of pistachio nuts or both.

Written on
July 26, 2011