Recipe – Classic Kesar Shrikhand


 

Shrikhand is a traditional dessert made from full fat hung yogurt known in Maharashtra as Malai Chakka. These days chakka is easily available at halwais and dairies so people don’t spend hours straining the water from the yogurt. In many cities I have seen the use of Greek Yogurt too which is okay in case you’re in a rush or don’t  have access to Chakka. I, on the other hand, prefer to make it the traditional way.

It is one of the sweets offered in Prasadam to the Gods and a must preparation for all auspicious and festive occasions. These days we find a lot of variations to the classic Shrikhand with addition of fruits etc but while I was growing up only Aamrakhand or mango flavored Shrikhand was the other variation. Alphonso mangoes were used to make this flavorful sweet. I like Aamrakhand but I absolutely love the classic Kesar Shrikhand.

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For me Shrikhand brings memories of a lost love, a city that’s become meaningless for me now and yet there is that pull which I can’t let go of. It also reminds me of someone very special I’ve lost. Kalindi maushi did my elder son’s Annaparashan with the delicious Shrikhand she used to make among other things. It was specially made for Adi and the  boy literally put his whole face in the pot after that first lick. He still loves it to the heart. I cherish the time we all spent with her. Sometimes we need to keep both the love and the loss alive for the strength it gives.

I have grown up eating Shrikhand and made it several times. Never liked the store bought ones. They are too sweet for my taste. We don’t get chakka (Hung curd) in Delhi so it is always a labor of love to prepare the sweet. The best full fat yogurt ( usually home cultured), hours of hanging it in a muslin cloth till the last drop of water leaves it or if in a hurry then layers n layers of newspapers topped by layers of muslin cloth (changed in between) with yogurt on top so that all the water gets absorbed quickly. I use this method v rarely though. Don’t like shortcuts. The thick creamy hung curd is rubbed through the sieve ( a puran yantra was used in aaji’s home), whipped and then into the silky smoothness, boora cheeni and saffron (warmed, crushed and diluted in milk) is mixed into it. The sugar is just right so the slight tartness of yogurt remains. That’s essential for a good shrikhand. Usually I don’t prefer to add nuts ( pista, charoli etc) but I indulged today and added some. Had this sinful creamy shrikhand with crisp pooris and dubkiwale aloo. The best way to eat it is by licking it off with a finger. That’s the only way I know and love.  I will post the potato curry recipe soon.

Hot crisp Poori and smooth chilled Shrikhand are a perfect match just like Poori and Aamras. Another of my favorites.

To make the Srikhand you’ll need :

Ingredients : 

Malai Chakka – 1 kg ( homemade hung curd proportion – 1 kg full fat yogurt gives approximately 250 gram hung curd)

Boora cheeni or Powdered Sugar – 700 -750 grams

Salt – 1 pinch

Finely grated Nutneg – 1/4th tsp ( optional as I did’t use it)

Milk – 1/4 cup

Saffron strands ( warmed, bruised and soaked in milk ) – a few ( 8-10)

Pistachio and Charoli ( chironji)  ( soaked and finely chopped) – 1 tsp

Green cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp ( if using nutmeg then avoid this)

Method : 

If using store bought chakka or Greek yogurt just it in a muslin cloth for an hour or so to remove all traces of water.

If making Hung Curd at home then put the curd in a muslin or cheese cloth, gather its edges and tie into a knot. ( I use old cotton dupatta or saree cloth too) Hang from the knot end over a large container so that the water drips into it. Let it remain for at least 6-7 hours. I sometimes put the cloth on a sieve and place the container in fridge overnight so that the curd doesn’t get sour. Another way is to place layers of old newspapers topped with double layered muslin cloth and placing the yogurt on the cloth. In a few hours the newpapers will absorb all the liquid. You may change them ones in between.

Once you have hung curd with zero traces of water take it out in a large bowl and gently fold and stir Boora chini into it along with saffron milk, nutmeg or cardamom powder. Once everything is incorporated well cover and keep it for half an hour. Remember not to whisk or stir it briskly or it will tend to become watery and runny. You need to be patient and kind. The sugar will release some water in this time.

Now gently rub this mixture through the sieve so that all the ingredients mix into a homogenized smooth mixture. Spoon the Shrikhand into a serving bowl and garnish with a little saffron milk and chopped nuts if using.

 

The sign of a good Shrikhand is that it should hold a place on a plate when served and not need a bowl.

You can freeze this Shrikhand in airtight containers for a few days but usually it is licked off sooner that you can imagine.

If you make it from my recipe do tag me and share your experience.

 

 

Recipe – Spicy Lamb Curry with Dark Rum


I perfected this recipe in my kitchen and have fond memories of many Sunday lunches when friends came over and we had great times over food and drinks. The basic recipe is of Mughlai lamb ( Mutton) curry with addition of Dark Rum. The dish is rich and full of aromatic spices which is a specialty of Mughlai cooking.  Although Mughlai preparations can be eaten all over India but it is the specialty of the North India. This is not a dish for calorie conscious but for those who relish rich food a  perfect dish for a Sunday meal on a cold winter day. Hope you will enjoy it as much I do. So, here is the recipe for all you meat lovers.

Ingredients : 

Mutton (Lamb Meat)  –  1 kg ( shoulder of lamb and front quarter provides the best meat) Cut into small pieces

Yogurt – 1 cup (Beaten)

For Gravy –

Onions – 3 large (cut very fine)

Ginger – 1 inch (grated or finely chopped)

Garlic – 6 pods (finely chopped or grated)

Tomatoes – 5 Large (grated)

Spices –

Black cardamom – 3

Green cardamom – 4

Cinnamon stick – ½ inch

Clove – 4

Black pepper corn – 5 -6

Whole red chilies – 4

Bay leaf – 1

Cumin seeds – ½ teaspoon

Asafoetida – 2 pinch

Salt to taste

Red chilli powder – 1 teaspoon (as per taste)

Fresh ground coriander seed powder – 4 tablespoon

Garam masala – 1 teaspoon

(You can put first 7 spices in a small muslin pouch, tie it and drop it in the gravy or use them as it is)

Desi Ghee – ¼ cup (clarified butter)

Dark rum – 60ml

For Garnish – Fresh green Coriander – half cup ( finely chopped)

 

Method –

 

Marinade the lamb pieces by smearing yogurt and a little salt over them. Cover with cling foil and keep aside.

Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan

Add all the whole spices (if using the pouch, just add cumin seeds and asafoetida)

Once the spices crackle add chopped onions and salt. (Fine chopping gives a different texture and flavor than grated. Adding salt will help the onions to become crisp brown.  Indian food is all about passion and the more you give it time and patience the better it going to be)

Keep the flame on medium and stir onions till translucent.

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Add garlic and ginger at this point. (It is important to follow steps. At what point a certain ingredient is added changes the taste of the dish)

Fry them till golden brown then add the red chili powder and half a cup of water so the chili powder doesn’t burn, adding chili at this point with give the gravy a good color.

When the water is reduced and the mixture becomes browner add the powdered spices and mix well. The aroma will tell you when they have blended well.

At this point add grated tomatoes. I don’t puree them, grating gives a better color.

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Keep the flame on high and stir the mixture till the oil starts leaving the sides.

Once the mixture is properly done add one cup water. (It you are using spice pouch, add it now)

Lower the flame and let it simmer till nicely browned and reduced to thick paste

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Add the lamb pieces and raise the flame to high.

Keep stirring till all the pieces are fully covered in the paste.

Roast the meat in the gravy till oil starts to separate and the mutton is nicely done.

Check with a fork or knife to see if it’s become a bit soft.  It should be half done by now.

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Add enough water to cover the lamb pieces completely.

Check salt and add more if needed.

Add dark rum at this point and keep the flame high.

I use Old Monk but you can use any dark rum. Rum is a tenderizer also and it gives a distinct flavor to the curry. You can use up to 120 ml of rum depending on taste.

Turn the flame to slow now and cover the pan with a lid.

Let the curry cook on slow flame till the lamb pieces are soft and break on touching.

I make thick gravy but you can change the consistency according to taste.

Once done, stir in half of the chopped fresh coriander.

Take out the aromatic mutton curry in a serving dish and garnish with the remaining fresh coriander

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Serve hot with Nan, Parathas, Roomali Rori, missi roti or rice.

Bon Appetit