Biscoff Banoffee Pots | The Lotus effect



 

It makes me anxious. Well before the set date, I would have made four lists. A shopping one, the intended menu, preps to be done the day before and what needs to be finished on the day itself. All this time, I’ve only helped prepare the main course or casually looked after dessert. After our move to Dubai, I’ve entertained for my extended family thrice. I feel we don’t do the social house visits, even to the homes of close family, as much as it was done when I was a child. Our lives are just much more busier than what it used to be. However, gathering together for a meal is still a family affair. While preparing for it, I don’t know why I have an adrenaline rush that feels exactly like I am about to sit for an exam. The Math paper, for which I’m unprepared for, to be specific. It’s the nerves of the responsibility of having to do prepare everything solo. Coupled with my little one, it takes a bit longer considering his meals and acitivites are priority. Yet, I love entertaining. I relax once everyone arrives and the conversations overpower the nervous chattering in my head. Needless to say, dessert is the least stressful (and my favourite) course. This was dessert no.2 the night I made that simple Shahi Tukra. Considering how easy it comes together, it would be a wonderful addition to a dinner your’e hosting or even to take over for potluck. 



Lotus biscuits sashayed into the dessert scene in the UAE rather quietly. Nutella had been overdosed on and was a predictable choice on most menus. Lotus biscuits were crumbled over softies, formulated into fudges and injected into cakes and suddenly everyone seemed to be formulating their signature Lotus creation. For a dessert fiend, it would be considered unacceptable that I haven’t tasted any single one of them yet. I was very close to trying the Lotus Softie at SALT but that day they were sold out. It took a while before the biscuits themselves starting trickling down to the commoners and started appearing on the supermarket shelves. That is how I had my first Lotus Biscoff biscuit. And after the first bite, I was glad I hadn’t tasted it before. It screamed Cinnamon. A sharpness of ginger. Did I taste a peppery heat? These cookies tasted similar to a Gingersnap but softer and sweeter. I instantly had to use it in dessert myself. 

The Banoffee pie typically has a layer of crushed digestive biscuits combined with melted butter. Since the dessert is chilled, the butter solidifies and you literally might hit rock bottom towards the end of your serving. The Biscoff cookies crumble into finer crumbs, even with just a rolling pin and a ziplock. I omitted the melted butter step which is honestly my least favourite layer in the classic version. Doing so, the crumbs stick to the layer above, making the dessert cohesive and you’re not left wrestling a clunky biscuit base with your dessert spoon. The most obvious reason to replace the otherwise bland biscuits is purely for its zesty spiciness. It provides a balance for the sweeter layers above.



For the banana flavour to steep, a simple vanilla pastry cream was made from scratch. This custard variation uses the eggs as a whole so I didn’t have to worry about what to do with leftover egg whites. I have begun using whole Vanilla beans for desserts. Working with them requires a patient demeanour and let’s just say that I would have never made a good surgeon. It is tricky enough to scrape off what is required without risking splitting the bean into two. I keep going back, re-scraping the stalk making sure I have collected the teeny tiny seeds by the thousands. 

In the UAE, whole vanilla beans are on the pricier side which is acceptable for a valued spice. I visited Mumbai for a friends’ wedding late last year and one of the things I stocked up were on Vanilla beans from Foodhall. They are sold in packets of 3 beans for the equivalent of 7 dirhams! If you buy Vanilla here, I’m sure you understand why I picked up what I could with eyes popping out of my face. I am trying hard not to push my revelation but the difference has been profound in terms of flavour. I have predominantly seen, tasted and cooked Keralite food and learnt very early on that every spice has a distinct potency that subtly influences the final profile of a recipe. A vanilla extract would be dissolved in the final stage after the custard is cooked and I’ve noticed all it lends is an overwhelming odour. However, the scraped vanilla seeds, just like any spice you would use, is added in the beginning stages of cooking that releases its flavour. The sweetness permeates into the cream leaving a pleasantly light and fresh redolence.



The name Banoffee is apparently the combination of the word Bananas and Toffee. Toffee itself is caramelised butter and sugar but for this dessert but Dulce de Leche is what is commonly used. Considering it is made from sugar and milk you could say it a jam made from milk. Boiling a condensed milk can inside a pressure cooker sounded terrifying to me. It was, however, the quickest way to make dulce de leche from scratch. Well, it is also more energy efficient than boiling it on the stove in a saucepan of water for more than two hours. I started with a prayer hoping it doesn’t become another pressure cooker disaster episode. I have a smaller pressure cooker so instead of the large condensed milk tin I used two small 90g tins. You just have to make sure they don’t touch each other before you close the lid. It had my full attention and in twenty minutes of cooking and cooling each, I was opening the can revealing this lusciously smooth caramel interior. It requires a heavy hand while spooning as the texture is very thick. 

These days I really can’t browse through the supermarket shelves with leisure since there’s a toddler in tow who has gone rogue with a shopping trolley. I was picking up Raspberry preserves when I saw a jar of what looked like dulce de leche to me. The label said Caramel and when first on the ingredient list was sweetened condensed milk. It has a deeper colour and is looser in texture compared to the one made at home. Considering how versatile it is from dessert toppings to cookie fillings, it’s found a permanent spot on my dessert pantry list. Regardless of whether you are using a store bought one or homemade, dulce de leche has a gummy texture. When you’re making individual servings, it is a bit difficult to spread the dulce de leche. What I like to do is after having spooned it, I use a toothpick and swirl into the pastry cream so you get a bit of it in every bite.



Chocolate in this dessert is purely as a garnish. The ingredients themselves are on the richer side yet I’ve found when they are served in smaller portions it’s surprisingly light. Opt for grated chocolate or shavings. Even if it is milk chocolate, you don’t want to rob the airiness and introduce bitterness with clunky bits of chocolate chips or a dusting of cocoa. Considering white chocolate has no cocoa, I used a combination of milk and white chocolate for the final dusting.



Ali has taken it on himself to quietly finish whatever I set aside for his daddy. One time it was cupcakes I had made for Daddy’s potluck lunch at work. Lips smeared with buttercream, he proudly announced that he had finished ‘Daddy cake’. While preparing this dessert for a lunch date with my friend, I specifically made a bowl for my husband as a treat after Iftar. Ali decided to finish it, while playing on the floor with his fire truck, a spoon at a time. Considering he doesn’t have candy and chocolates from the store, I am a bit easier on him when it comes to homemade desserts. 

I have to admit Individual desserts do take longer to assemble. Nevertheless, once they are brought out, the petite servings become the centre of conversation. It allows your guests to enjoy their moderated dessert or shout out for one glass more. And when your Iftar menu is saturated with fried pastries, sweet and savoury, and an elaborate Biriyani, this dessert makes for a refreshingly sweet ending. 

Biscoff Banoffee Pots

INGREDIENTS

  • 250 g Lotus Biscoff Biscuits – crushed to powder

  • Vanilla Pastry cream (see recipe below)

  • 3 ripe bananas – sliced thinly

  • Dulce de Leche (see recipe below)

  • 2 oz. Dark chocolate – grated

  • Whipped cream

Dulce de Leche

  • Before I found store bought Dulce de Leche, I used this pressure cooker method to make dulce de leche before I found it at the store.

  • In the UAE, you can find Dulce de Leche by Bonne Maman in the Jam section at major supermarkets under the name Caramel. The first ingredient is Sweetened Condensed Milk.

Vanilla Pastry Cream – Recipe from Glorious Treats

  • 3 cups full-fat milk

  • 2 eggs

  • ½ cup sugar

  • ¼ cup cornstarch

  • 2 tbsp butter

  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract OR seeds from 1 vanilla pod

METHOD

Vanilla Pastry Cream

  • Beat the eggs in a bowl with a fork to combine.

  • Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium saucepan.

  • Gradually pour in milk, while whisking, to make a smooth mixture.

  • Cook over medium heat, stirring almost constantly, until the mixture thickens and boils. Continue to cook and stir one minute.

  • Temper the beaten eggs by pouring several tablespoons of the hot mixture into the bowl with the eggs and whisking constantly.

  • Pour warmed egg mixture into the pan with the rest of the hot milk mixture.

  • Return to a slow boil, and cook one minute, stirring constantly.

  • Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

  • Set aside to cool.

  • When the pan has cooled, place in the refrigerator to fully cool.

ASSEMBLY

  • Add 3 tsp of Biscoff powder to the bottom of your serving bowl.

  • Using the back of the spoon, press it firmly against the bottom and sides.

  • Add enough pastry cream to cover the powder.

  • Flatten it gently without mixing it into the powder.

  • Place 4 thinly sliced pieces of banana.

  • Add 4 tsp of pastry cream to completely cover banana pieces.

  • Place 1 tsp of Dulce de Leche and swirl it into the pasty cream with a toothpick.

  • Using an offset spatula or a piping tip, cover the remaining part of the bowl with whipped cream.

  • Sprinkle grated chocolate on top.

  • Allow it to set in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

NOTE: If you can’t find Lotus Biscoff cookies, Ginger biscuits make a suitable substitute.

Have a good food day.

Crisp Pulled Chicken Rolls | Stuffed to the brim


When you are 7 years old and have just begun fasting, you’re constantly thinking about what Umma is preparing for Iftar. At that age, you don’t comprehend to the significance of fasting long hours. She would ask what my brother and I would like to eat to break our fast. These rolls were one of them. Sweet morsels of bread, a filling cutting through the sweetness with a lingering heat and the buttery crispness that is the start to this delightful bite.

Back then it was also probably because each bite could be dipped in ketchup. What is it about ketchup that makes it itself appealing to children? My own little one has recently tasted it for the first time and can’t get enough. At the supermarket yesterday, he threw in the largest bottle of ketchup his little hands could reach out and hold into his trolley.


Let’s start with the filling. When I made these rolls, I did not make it from scratch. I had a bit of Roast Chicken Moplah style leftover from Friday lunch. I shred the meat and tossed into golden sautéed shallots. As the chicken was already roasted, the texture worked out to be a little smoother than I would like it. Don’t be limited to poultry. Cook a stuffing of your choice of meat or fish exactly how you would make for cutlets or puff pastry. 

Leftover chicken curry is another genius dish to repurpose for this recipe. It has all the ingredients you would need if you’re starting from the beginning. Pick out the flesh from the bones, add it back into the curry and then cook it on a frying pan till it reduces and thickens enough to use as stuffing. You could add sweetcorn, beans and/or carrots into your stuffing too. Totally optional. Crumbled hardboiled eggs aren’t optional unless you really hate them.


Humour me when I call these rolls Samoon. That is what hot dog rolls were referred to when I was younger and I have an inkling that they’re still called that in the smaller grocery call-and-we-deliver stores. Ideally it is best to use rolls bought on the same day. The bread is soft enough to scoop without ripping the roll which might happen if the bread is a bit stale.



And don’t throw away those bread remains. Toss them right back into your stuffing at the ready. And add a drizzle of melted butter to stir things up. Never a bad idea.





Now this is what made these rolls my favourite back then. The edible flour sealant that crisps up in brown butter. Flour is mixed with a little bit of water to make a thick paste to contain the stuffing. It should be thick enough to spread with your fingers. In a very hot frying pan, pat down a knob of butter and wait for the sizzling to calm down. You then place the rolls, flour side down to cook and eventually seal in the stuffing. 

Now if it is close to runny, the paste might bubble and burn, leaving an exposed bread roll waiting for stuffing to tumble out. If it is too thick, it would not cook through and a gummy, chewy start to a roll is, well, rather unappetising. This is precisely the reason you should try having these rolls fresh off the stove when it as it’s crispest. It could get a bit soggy when it becomes cold.

I like to dip it with Thai sweet chilli sauce now. Ali has taken over the ketchup legacy for now. I hope your month of fasting is a blessed one.



INGREDIENTS

  • Hot dog rolls – cut into half

  • 5 tbsp All Purpose Flour

  • Water as required

  • 2 tbsp melted butter

  • Stuffing of your choice

Chicken Stuffing

  • 250g Boneless chicken cut into thin strips

  • 2 tbsp ginger garlic paste

  • 2 chills sliced finely

  • ¼ tsp Turmeric powder

  • ½ tsp Chilli powder

  • ½ tsp Garam Masala

  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced

  • 2 hardboiled eggs

  • 5 tbsp water

  • 2 tbsp coconut Oil

  • Salt to taste

METHOD

Chicken Stuffing

  • Heat coconut oil in a medium pan.

  • Fry the onions till they become glassy.

  • Add the ginger garlic paste and chillies and saute till the onions turn a deep golden colour. This may take a while.

  • Add the spices and saute well.

  • Add the chicken strips and stir well ensuring it is coated with the spices.

  • Pour water, lower the flame and cover the pan.

  • Keep checking the chicken for doneness in 5 minute intervals.

  • Once it is cooked, using a wooden spoon or a spatula, shred the chicken in the pan. Since the chicken is hot, it will shred easily.

  • Remove the shells of the eggs and crumble it well.

  • Add crumbled eggs into the chicken mixture and stir well.

  • Check seasoning and take off heat.

Assembly

  • Using your fingers, gently scoop out the bread from within the rolls to make it hollow.

  • Add the scooped bread and melted butter into the stuffing and mix it well.

  • In a bowl, put the flour and add water, a few teaspoons at a time, just enough to make a paste.

  • Consistency is key. The paste should be thick enough to spread using your finger. If it turns out too runny, add flour to make it thicker.

  • Heat a frying pan and brush with melted butter.

  • Using your finger, spread the flour paste on the opening of the stuffed bread to seal it.

  • Place the roll, flour paste side down, on the hot pan.

  • Fry till it becomes crisp. This shouldn’t take more than a minute.

  • Toast the roll on its sides lightly and take off heat.

  • Serve alongside your favourite sauce.

 

Perfecting the Stovetop Pizza | Tweaking techniques



Can you explain the appeal of Pizza? It took a whole new meaning after our honeymoon in Italy. Making pizza at home never really replicated the ones we had at the pizzerias. I tried buying a pizza stone for the oven but taking it out was always a mess without a peel. And then I found out that pizza can be made on the stovetop. All under 20 minutes! The weather in Dubai right now is pizza conducive. The heat will allow yeast to bloom and rise in no time. Considering Iftar is late into the day, I’m looking for options beyond the fried food platter. This recipe is going to help me on that front this month. More than a good dough recipe, mastering a few techniques promises rustic pizzas every single time. I’m sharing my tips and tricks so that you can perfect the stovetop pizza.



Let’s talk about sauces. On this particular day, I made two pizzas. The first one was the Uber Supreme, a name my husband came up with, on an all-purpose flour base. For this I used a combination of his favourite hot sauces and assorted ketchup flavours. Yes, we have more than one ketchup bottle in the refrigerator.

The second pizza was a vegetarian one for the little one using a whole-wheat pizza base. For his pizza, I used his favourite homemade pasta sauce. It is a pink sauce that I have been making for him almost every Thursday. I start with a whole pod of garlic, sweet shallots and sliced juicy fresh tomatoes sautéed in oil and reduced for a while. After seasoning, in goes a pinch of oregano, a splash of heavy cream and grated cheddar cheese. I’ve made it so many times that I can do it in my sleep. It would be the first time he would be trying pizza and he’s usually a bit sceptical when it comes to trying something new. Since he is more than accustomed to the flavours of his pink sauce, I was hoping he wouldn’t run off after the first bite.



I use two cheeses for my pizza. Firstly, the sauce is topped with coarsely shredded mozzarella cheese before I pile the vegetables or meat depending on what pizza I am making. At the very end, right before I start cooking the pizza, I roughly tear chunks of fresh mozzarella straight out of its brine. (There’s nothing like the real stuff, right Achi?) You could mix it up with cheese you prefer but just make sure it is the sort that has high moisture content so it melts easily. You do not want to crank up the heat to forcefully melt the cheese because you certainly do not want a crust that is tough, bitter and burnt. 



Apart from fresh green salads or having them absolutely raw, my husband won’t have any sort of vegetables. No stir-fries and certainly no gravies either. He’s open to the odd Cauliflower Manchurian and didn’t mind Ful Medames at an Arabic breakfast we tried a few years ago but apart from that, at the dining table he turns a blind eye to anything that isn’t meat. He takes his poultry very seriously and that makes cooking for him a breeze. For this pizza, I wanted to finish a bit of Pepperoni salami lying in the refrigerator and a few slices Beef Bacon we hadn’t used from brunch he made a couple of weekends ago. There was leftover chicken mince from meatballs I had baked for Ali’s lunch a day ago too. I hadn’t seasoned it heavily and spruced it up a bit with pantry spices. After chopping the bacon into bits and pan frying it in its own fat, I cooked the remaining chicken mince in the same pan. And only because nothing should go to waste in my frugal kitchen.


As of now, these are a few vegetables Ali loves. The aubergines were coated with turmeric, chilli powder and salt, rested for a while and then pan-fried in olive oil. The spinach was wilted in a bit of heat and wasn’t seasoned. Then there was half a cob of boiled sweet corn. The okra was stir-fried the naadan way, mustard seeds and shallots tempered in coconut oil and then okra sautéed in it, for his lunch. If he wasn’t taking a nap while I was preparing this pizza, I know there wouldn’t be any Okra leftover for topping.



I have more ketchup variants in my pantry stock. Heinz can add anything to their ketchup and my husband will buy it. They occupy a good third of my refrigerator door shelving. I combined the above 8 bottle contents in proportions I don’t bother noting down. Taste as you go is the key here. No prizes for guessing it is rather spicy. You don’t have to be this adventurous though. Just a bit of inspiration.





I firmly believe the crust maketh the pizza. I prefer thin crusts but my pan will never replicate the results of a wood fired oven. I’ve tested the recipe a total of four time for this pizza dough. The only ingredient that varied was the proportion of yeast. The fermentation process of this fungus is what traps air pockets causing the dough to double and make it pliable to work with. While testing I added a bit of sugar to produce more gas and it also helped toning down the flavour of the yeast.  

Another testing finding was a generous tablespoon of Extra Vigil Olive Oil made a softer dough. This helps especially in the case of a whole-wheat pizza base. As it has less gluten it toughens up and chewing on a base that tires your jaws is not favourable. The dough is much darker and it deepens on the portion where the crust comes in contact with the hot pan. That being said with a little practice I started getting crusts that cook through and are on the softer side. 



One thing I noticed about the dozens of videos I watched of stove top pizza is the final result looks misshapen. This is something I had the most trouble with. I would attribute it to the fact that the pizza base has to be flipped once before you start adding the topping and cheese to allow the base to cook through. You start by carefully placing your stretched dough into the pan. The dough is floppy and flipping it when it being half-cooked makes it stretch even when you don’t intend to. 

This is where shaping the diameter of your pizza base makes it perfect. You are creating a tiny fort that holds in all the toppings. It even holds the cheese and prevents it from melting and setting on the crust. You could either use just the index fingers of both hands or using your index finger, gently push the dough into the palm of your other hand. You don’t have to make it too tall.  The tricky part is the fort side is what needs to go down first into the heated pan. However, this makes it relatively easier to flip the pizza once it is cooked. The biggest difference I found is that it is this faux fort that prevents the pizza from spreading while flipping and retains it shape.



The size of your pizza depends (obviously) on the pan. Use a deep pan that has a lid (here’s what I use) because you would need to cover it for the cheese to melt evenly. I would suggest not going above 9” in diameter to avoid the nightmare of flipping the pizza. Ideally your  toppings and cheeses should be prepped and ready close to your stove. Once the pizza is flipped, the sauce-topping-cheese layering has to be completed fairly quickly. The longer you take to finish, you risk cooking the base too long and that could result in a tough crust.



Each pizza takes no longer than 15 minutes to cook. It shouldn’t be alarming that you can finish eating it in lesser time. Given how easily it comes together, it’s going to be a family favourite in no time. 

 

Stove Top Pizza

INGREDIENTS

  • Toppings of your choice

  • Pizza Sauce – recipe below

  • Pizza Dough – recipe below

  • 4 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese

  • 250 g fresh Mozzarella cheese – roughly cut (optional)

Pizza Sauce

  • 6 tbsp Tomato Ketchup

  • 2 tbsp Tabasco or Hot Sauce (optional)

  • Oregano – 1 tsp

Pizza Dough – All-Purpose

  • 1½ cup All-Purpose Flour

  • ½ tsp Yeast

  • 1 tbsp Sugar

  • ½ cup warm water

  • 1 tbsp Olive oil

  • 1 tsp salt

Pizza Dough – Whole Wheat

  • 1½ cup Whole-Wheat Flour

  • ½ tsp Yeast

  • 1 tbsp Sugar

  • ½ cup warm water

  • 2 tbsp Olive oil

  • 1 tsp salt

METHOD

Pizza Sauce

  • Mix the sauces together in a bowl.

  • Add oregano and mix well.

Pizza Dough

  • In a large bowl, pour in warm water.

  • Sprinkle yeast and sugar over water and let it rest for 5 minutes.

  • Add flour, salt, and olive oil.

  • Using a wooden spoon, stir all the ingredients until it starts coming together.

  • Lightly flour a surface and put the dough on to it.

  • With a heavy hand, start kneading the dough, for a minimum of 5 minutes, till it becomes smooth.

  • Grease a bowl with olive oil and place the dough into it.

  • Cover it with plastic wrap.

  • Set it aside in a warm place.

  • Allow it to rest and rise for a minimum of 2 hours and a maximum of 4 hours.

ASSEMBLY

  • Lightly flour a surface and place pizza dough.

  • Roll out the dough to ½” thickness.

  • Make sure the pizza base is smaller than the pan you will be using.

  • Using your index finger, gently press the diameter of the base into the palm of your other hand (pictured above), forming a slight wall.

  • Using a fork, prick all over the pizza base.

  • On medium-high heat, pour a tablespoon of olive and swirl the pan to spread it.

  • Slowly transfer the pizza base, wall side down, into the pan.

  • When the pizza base starts bubbling, slowly flip the pizza.

  • Spread the tomato sauce on the pizza base within the wall.

  • Sprinkle half of the shredded mozzarella cheese.

  • Add your toppings.

  • Sprinkle remaining shredded mozzarella on top.

  • If using fresh mozzarella, dot the pizza with the chunks away from each other.

  • Pour olive oil on the pan close to the pizza base.

  • Drizzle the top of the pizza with no more than ½ a teaspoon of olive oil.

  • Cover the pan with the lid and allow the cheese to melt.

  • Lift the lid once in a while to prevent the moisture from the lid falling on top of the pizza.

  • Allow the pizza to cook for 8-10 minutes on low-medium heat.

  • If you are cooking a whole-wheat pizza base, take the pizza out of the pan as soon as the cheese has completely melted.

  • Serve immediately.

Have a good food day.

 

Badam Milk 2 ways | A balmy favorite



Ramadan Kareem everyone!

I was never the child who winced at the sight of the milk. Nor the one who stealthily poured it down the sink when mom was not looking. I don’t start the day to pretty lattes or a steaming mug of tea. It is a habit lost on me. I start my day with tepid milk most likely with muesli. When we eat out for breakfast, there’s always a little part of me missing my glass of milk. Coming home from school, there’s usually a tall glass of milkshake (usually banana) waiting on the kitchen table. In the cooler months it was a mug of warm Cadbury hot chocolate.

In India, milk is the start of so many desserts. There is khoya which is milk simmered for several hours. The water content evaporates leaving behind coagulated mass. Shaped into spheres and deep-fried, the syrup engorged Gulab Jamun’s the first entry under desserts in an Indian restaurant. Curdle milk with freshly squeezed lemon and half an our later draining the solution, you can start on another syrup engorged favourite, pearly white Rasgulla. The dessert is currently going through a custody battle between the state of Odisha, claiming invention rights, and West Bengal, whom the world credits for formulating. And I don’t know who to credit for creating Rasmalai. Personally I prefer the latter. The dumplings itself are flattened lightly, poached in sugar syrup and then put to rest in a milky syrup laced with cardamom.


Then there’s Kaju Kati. You could call it fudge, except it is not milk and butter, it is ground cashew nuts and (hopefully) pure ghee heated in sugar syrup. It becomes pasty enough to spread in a dish and is adorned with edible silver foil. These diamond cut bites are dangerous for my self restraint especially when they can be found ominously waiting on the dining table. They are tiny and I find myself making an argument in my head how one or maybe even two is a treat. It is primarily nutrient packed nuts and ghee and sure, there’s sugar, but it is still healthier than a fat slice of chocolate cake, two slabs of salted caramel brownies OR four chocolate chunk cookies straight out of the oven. 

The combination of milk and ground Almonds is a beverage I can never refuse. Almost 12 years ago my family along with my cousins went on a road trip to Munnar in Kerala. Over the days when we would be walking on the streets, I would be on the lookout for a Milma cart around the corner. Apart from tea and coffee, they served a drink named rather unimpressively hot milk. It was poured in a literally paper thin cup and I would hold it with the stole I was wearing saving my fingertips from scalding. Pale yellow and overly sweet, it had a faint taste of crushed cardamom. The high altitude temperature would quickly cool the boiling milk and I would sip on it very slowly thoroughly enjoying myself. I doubt there was almonds in this milk but, to me, it tasted very similar to Badam Milk.



Let me tell you something odd about the way I drink milk. Unless it is Nutella hot chocolate, I don’t drink milk from a glass. I drink it with a spoon. What I mean is there is always a bit of Muesli or oats sinking at the bottom. Off late I add the crusts (you’ve got to try it) of Ali’s morning sandwich into my morning muesli. When I fast, more than food, I am looking forward to something cool to drink. That’s how I would drink my Badam Milk. Straight out of the refrigerator, with a tall dessert spoon. The texture is quite thick and it feels like I am having Payasam. I flavour it with freshly ground cardamom and generous pinches of saffron. For a little more bite, I chop a handful of pistachios, cashew nuts and almonds roughly and add it to the milk right before I sit down to drink it. And oddly (for myself) I no longer add sugar to the milk. The combination of ground almonds and the assorted chopped nut leaves behind a sweetness which I leave undisturbed. 



I was making myself a glass for the first day of Iftar when I decided to add a little more almonds than the recipe normally calls for. Exactly a fourth of a cup more. When the milk started reducing after I had added the ground almond paste, the consistency naturally changed from a pouring one. As I tipped it over with my spatula, a smoothie bowl began to form in my mind. I tipped it all back, and placed enough thinly sliced apples to cover the base. THEN, I poured it all back and added a few dried figs, and caused rose petals and more sliced nuts. It is what I am going to be having for Iftar for the next few days. It is light enough not to pique an empty stomach and fills you up slowly without the food bogging me down. I’m planning on making a batch that will last me a couple of days and make bowls for Iftar everyday depending on what I feel like having. It saves me a lot of time with regards to what I want to eat to break the fast and l can go about making the rest of Ali’s meals and a few fried tidbits for the mister.

If you have picky milk refusers in your family, give this recipe a try. Provided that it isn’t topped off with a lot of sugar, it is a healthy and nutrient-rich beverage that will help you tick off their daily glass quote. 

Have a good food day.

Badam Milk 

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

  • 500 ml full-fat Milk

  • ½ cup almonds, blanched and peeled

  • ¼ cup full-fat milk

  • 3 green cardamom pods, crushed finely

  • A generous pinch of saffron

  • 2 tbsp warm full-fat milk

  • Chopped nuts – ¼ cup

  • Sugar – to taste

METHOD

  • Soak the saffron in warm milk and set aside.

  • Grind the almonds and ¼ cup of milk into a smooth and fine paste.

  • In a wide bottomed saucepan, pour the milk and bring to a boil. Keep stirring in intervals or the milk will burn at the bottom of the pan.

  • Once the milk starts bubbling on the side, add the ground almond paste and stir really well.

  • Lower the flame and cook the mixture for about 10 minutes.

  • Once the mixture starts bubbling, watch it closely and keep stirring to prevent the milk burning.

  • The milk would have reduced at this stage. Add sugar, saffron along with the milk and cardamom powder.

  • Stir well and then take the pan off the heat. If you want to chill before serving, allow the badam milk to come to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator.

  • Top off with chopped nuts right before serving.

 

Smoothie Bowl

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup Almonds, blanched and peeled.

  • 500 ml full-fat Milk

  • ½ cup almonds, blanched and peeled

  • 3 green cardamom pods, crushed finely

  • A generous pinch of saffron

  • 2 tbsp warm full-fat milk

  • Chopped nuts – ¼ cup

  • Fruits – as desired

  • Sugar – to taste

METHOD

  • Prepare the Badam milk in the same method as stated above.

  • Place chopped fruits and nuts in a bowl.

  • Pour the almond milk into the bowl and let it cool.

  • If desired, you could chill the bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours.