Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Kesar Shrikhand- Sweetened Greek Yogurt


I must have been  four or five when I first visited the city of Mumbai.Mumbai or Bombay as it was called then, was something more than I had seen or dreamt of. Before visiting Mumbai, I had never seen a beach Or the Planetarium. I had never seen a city so crowded. And I had never eaten Shrikhand before that.


I remember like yesterday when my mother and I had spent a couple I'd days in my grand aunt's house. She was my mother's paternal aunt. She was a talented and an enterprising woman who loved to create. She was a fabulous cook and had a penchant for arts and crafts. It was in her house that I first tasted Shrikhand and instantly fallen in love with it. The Shrikhand she had served was yellow, thick, creamy, and had a custard like consistency.  The combination of tart and sweet flavors bowled me over completely. 

From that moment on, I Shrikhand became a favourite dessert of mine. I used to buy Amul shrikhand from time to time lick away the creamy goodness. It was only a few back that u actually thought of making it myself.

The process of making Shrikhand can be a little time consuming but very simple. All you need is a large quantity of thick yogurt, sugar and a piece of clean muslin cloth or a fine sieve and a few hors of refrigeration and shrikhand will be ready. It might seem like a long and tedious ordeal but this creamy dessert is worth all time and effort.

Since Navratilova is on, this dessert will be perfect for the festivities. You can serve this as a desert or as a side dish along with puri. Wishing you all a very happy Navratilova!!!

Shrikhand recipe:
Preparation time: 3-6hrs
Cooking time- nil
Serves- 4 to 6 people

Ingredients:
Full fat yogurt- 12 cups or 3quarts
Confectioners sugar- 1 cup or 240ml
Saffron- 15-20 threads, Soaked in 1/2 a tbsp of milk
Cardamom- 10, crushed to a fine powder
Pistachios- 15-20, finely chopped
Slivered almonds- 2tbsp.

Method:

  • Take a cloth that has been chosen for the purpose of straining. You can use a white teeshirt, a tea towel or a cheese cloth. Stretch the cloth over the top of the bowl and secure the edges with rubber bands or a thread around the outside of the bowl. Pour the yogurt onto the strainer and place the bowl along with the suspended yogurt in the fridge. Allow the yogurt to drain for 3 to 6hrs or overnight. Alternatively a fine sleeve can be used for this purpose.
  • Transfer the drained yogurt to a bowl. Add the sugar, soaked saffron, cardamom powder and mix gently with a balloon whisk.
  • Stir in the chopped pistachios and slivered almonds and chill for an hour or so before serving.
Notes:
  • Ready to use Greek yogurt can be used to make shrikhand. But it will lack the characterstic tart flavor that home made yogurt has. 
  • You can add some fruit puree or berries to give this dessert an exotic flavor.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Cream of Asparagus Soup



I tasted asparagus only a fortnight ago. I had neither seen nor heard about them when I was in India. I came to know about their existence only after moving to Africa. To me they seemed like long stems with little feathery leaves. It was only later that I came to know that the "stems" were called as Asparagus and it was actually a vegetable. It did seem very healthy and full of nutrients. Despite this, I couldn't bring myself to cook these spears. Simply because, I really didn't know how to include asparagus in my style of cooking. 


About two weeks ago, I came down with a nasty flu. For three days, I was going around with a throat that felt like it was rubbed with Sand paper and a temperature that refused go down. It was during this period that I craved for a bowl of soup. Since I was not in a condition to make that bowl of soup, S took me to one of my favorite restaurants and ordered this Asparagus soup for me. At first, I was extremely skeptical. It did look rich and creamy. But would it taste as good? I reluctantly took a sip and I was completely bowled. I had never expected the soup to taste so delicious. 


I am not sure if it was the flu, the ambiance of the restaurant, the garlicky flavor. Or simply the combination of all these. The soup was so good that I could have easily licked the bowl clean. After that, I simply had to make this soup. It wasn't very long before I got a large bunch of Asparagus. 


My version of Asparagus tastes a little different than the one that was served in the restaurant. But it is just as delicious. This soup is incredibly flexible and I am sure it would taste just as great with countless variations. 


I know it's not great to fall sick. But a steaming bowl of soup can make things a lot brighter!!!

Cream of Asparagus Soup Recipe:
Preparation time: 20min
Cooking time- 20 min
Servs- 4

Ingredients:
Butter or oil- 2tbsp
Garlic- 3 cloves, peeled and chopped
Asparagus- 20-25spears
Spring onions- 5, finely chopped
Salt- To taste
Black Pepper powder- 1/2 tsp or to taste
Vegetable stock- 250ml
Milk- 200ml
Cream- 3tbsp
Red chili flakes- 1/2 tsp (optional)

Method:
  • Wash the asparagus and break off the woody ends. If the skin is tough and thick, then peel it. Cut the asparagus into 1/2" cubes and set aside.
  • Heat the butter or oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add the chopped garlic and fry till the raw smell subsides.
  • Add the chopped spring Onions, Asparagus, Salt and pepper and fry for 3-4min.
  • Add the Vegetable stock and cook covered for 10-15mins or till the vegetables are completely cooked.
  • Remove the mixture from heat and set aside to cool completely. Once cooled, blend the mixture in a blender till smooth.
  • Transfer the ground mixture back to the pan. Add the milk, mix well and bring the mixture to a gentle boil. 
  • Stir in the cream and allow the soup to simmer for five more mins.
  • Adjust the salt and pepper if required. Sprinkle the red chili flakes if desired and serve the soup hot with some croutons on the side.
Notes:
  • Leeks and/or potato can be included in the soup.
  • The Spring onion can be replaced with one medium sized onion.
  • The milk and the cream can be replaced with 200 ml of half and half.
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