Tag: evaporated milk

Garam Masala Tuesdays: Kavita Massi’s Mango Kulfi

Its getting hot- quite hot here in our small town. Back in India, its getting even hotter. Thus, its only apt that I post this for today’s GMT- a sweet treat to beat the escalating summer heatKulfi. And since ’tis the season for mangoes, I thought of taking it up a notch and made Mango Kulfi :)!

In India, kulfi – a frozen milk-based dessert- is a street-vendor food. Sellers keep the frozen treat cold in a special ice and salt filled big pot called a matka. Although the usual way to serve it is with a simple garnish of nuts, some vendors also serve sweetened vermicelli rice noodles with Kulfi. Some serve it in small earthernware pots called matkas– and this kind is called Matka Kulfi. For me the name Kulfi always reminds me of this vendor who used to sell kulfi outside Moet’s in Defence Colony, Delhi. I loved his Kulfis. I am not a falooda fan, so would just have the stick of Kulfi. Kulfi is also quite a popular menu item at Indian weddings, especially summer weddings.

Unlike western ice cream, Kulfi is not whipped, resulting in a solid, dense frozen dessert that takes a long time to melt– hence the perfect treat during a hot summer day- you have no worries of it melting it on your shirt or ruining that new summer dress you bought!

It is believed that the first Kulfi was made by freezing Rabri (reduced milk and sugar) in ice. During the Mughal empire reign in India, the ice was brought in from Hindu Kush to Delhi. For a long time the privileges of having Kulfi were limited to royalty and upper levels of aristocracy in India until modern day refrigeration technology reached South Asia.

Traditionally, Kulfi is prepared by evaporating the heck out of milk by slow cooking it and stirring it continuously so that the milk does not stick to the bottom of the vessel and burn. This is done until the volume of the milk is reduced by more than half and you get an extremely thick milk. This takes hours. After the milk is reduced, sugar is added while still hot. Nuts like pistachio or almond and flavorings like saffron, rose water, kewra are added. The mix is then frozen in tight sealed molds that are then submerged in ice mixed with salt to speed up the freezing process. The ice/salt mix, along with its submerged kulfi molds, is placed in earthen pots or matkas that provide insulation from the external heat and slow down the melting of ice. Kulfi prepared in this manner is hence called ‘Matka Kulfi’. Kulfi, thus prepared by slow freezing, also renders a unique smooth mouth feel that is devoid of water crystallization.

I also read that aging the mixture overnight (about 12 hours) in the refrigerator prior to start freezing, gives a better Kulfi.

Now, now, I would not dream to suggest you all to be in the kitchen for hours at a stretch especially in this heat. Of course you could do all that I mentioned above, but one of Vikram’s relatives whom I fondly call, Kavita Massi, gave me a “cheat’s version” for making Kulfi. And it’s pretty easy with fabulous results!

The best part of the recipe is that it can be assembled in minutes. You don’t have to slave for hours to make this dessert. And the beauty of any Kulfi recipe is that it’s flexible to any addition. If you do not have mango on hand you can omit it (of course, you will need to add a few tbsp of sugar but do not go overboard with the sugar as it affects the creaminess of the kulfi). You can also omit the pistachio, instead you can choose to add rose water, cardamom or go a little on the wild side and add avocado, strawberry or orange! No matter what flavors you choose, you will have a wonderful treat to bite into!

I had made these treats when we had a few of our friends over and had quite a few left over as the recipe yields quite a lot. V was quite happy because he loved the kulfi. As I have already mentioned before, on occasions more than once, V is not much of a sweet fan. More often than not I have to ask him whether he wants something sweet, and after a lot of contemplating, he says a very disheartened “ok”. But, not with this dessert. (I think I have stumbled on something great here.) V actually asks for this Kulfi (and let me also mention here, he hardly used to eat Kulfi back in India. So he must really like it!) Even if I am full and assume that he is too and as such don’t serve any sweet, he actually suggests that we should have a Kulfi each! That should be evidence enough to convince you to try this recipe. This is the biggest testimonial that the dessert is good if V asks for it. (He had it twice yesterday- and both times I did not even have to remind him that there is Kulfi in the refrigerator).

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Tres leches Cake: A Cinco De Mayo Treat!

I am back with Office Thursdays. Office Thursdays was something I started to solve the problem of me baking and then having no one to eat it since V is not fond of sweets. As a result, I would end up eating most of what I baked, and you all know what havoc that does to your body. Of course, I could have just not baked at all- but I love baking and I do crave for the occasional freshly baked good- not what you get in stores but what you get fresh from the oven in your house! So some solution had to be found- one that would allow me to bake but not end up with all the calories that go into it. Thus, the idea of Office Thursdays (at that time I could come up with no better name and so it stuck) came up. Every Thursdays, V has a meeting that he conducts, and several of his co-workers attend it. So, V and I decided that I would bake for these meetings and save for two-four pieces (for the two of us), rest would be served at these meetings.

For today’s office Thursday, since it is cinco de mayo (a Mexican holiday celebrated every 5th of May to commemorate Mexican victory over the French forces in Battle of Puebla, 1862) and a lot of people at V’s office are mexican, I thought of making a traditional Mexican dessert- Tres Leches Cake. Of course, it might have been a very wrong decision- they would know how it actually tastes, so I had to turn to the best-Alton Brown. His measurements were in weights and since I do not own a weighing scale (and I call myself a passionate baker!) , I found a recipe I could work with at Brenda’s blog. Brenda has a beautiful blog and an amazing collection of recipes. Do check her out.

Tres Leches Cake: Tres in spanish means three and leche means milk. So the cake roughly translated is three milk cake. The cake is a sponge like cake that is drenched in a glaze of three different kinds of milk- condensed milk, evaporated milk and half & half. Topped with a whipped cream frosting, you can make several variations to the cake by either adding chocolate, or layering some strawberry whipped cream in between or like Brenda, adding cinnamon to the batter. No matter what you do, you will still be licking your fingers away!

This cake also goes out to one of my blogger friends, Abhi and to the girl who introduced me to his blog (one of my best friends, Elgo), both of whom had their birthday in April! I had promised Abhi a cake, so here it is! I would have made a more extravagant cake- firstly, if I knew how to and secondly, had these guys been here to eat it. Now, Abhi, for whatever reason, does not blog regularly but I have seen the pics of his culinary adventures on Facebook and they all look so mouth watering good. I wish he would blog more often so that I get to learn more from him and not just sit and admire his pictures on FB.

Now, typical to all my new baking adventures I erred here too. I had kept the eggs out in the morning so that they would be at room temperature by the time I was ready to bake the cake in the afternoon. But, when I added them, the eggs were cold, solidifying the butter a bit. Arghh!! What do I do now! I took the bowl and hugged it, hoping my body heat would help the eggs and the butter to come back to room temperature. And well it did work! A hug can melt anyone and this just proved it!

The cake is seriously addictive. While photographing I kept on eating piece after piece. Granted I was hungry after the exercise but one piece would have worked, but I just could not resist! I happily packed these for V’s office-  finally there is some one to take these baked goods off my hand!

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