Monday, May 05, 2008

Making Basundi, Mango Rabdi, and Glamming it up

The main premise and method for making baasundi might sound innocently simple, but those who have seen how it gets made or tried making it would be well aware of the fallacy. Instructions could just read something like reduce milk till it thickens, add sugar to taste, some cardamom, saffron, nutmeg (the classic kesar-elaichi-jaiphal trio) for flavor, and chopped nuts for garnishing, and while that is not at all difficult to achieve, it could become quite a trying experience.

Basundi: Maharashtrian dessertFor me, the reason to make some basundi recently was most ho-hum - the expiration date on a jug of whole milk was drawing close. Well, I think the printed date is the sell-by date and not the use-by date, but I am usually done with the milk in the jug by whichever date is printed on it, and have never had to test it out. If it is not used up in tea, cereal and other things, then I make paneer (rarely), some kind of kheer (sometimes), or set it to make yogurt (mostly).

This time, I had enough milk leftover to make basundi, and it had been a long time since I made it. This year for me, if anything, has been about minimizing the number of ingredients and maximizing flavors, and this fits right into that theme too. I started by heating the milk in a stainless steel saucepan, and when it came to a boil, I reduced the heat until the milk was at a constant simmer. Since I was doing other things around the house, I managed to stir it a little every ten to fifteen minutes, and kept doing this for about two hours, until the milk had thickened up considerably, and turned to a lovely light beige color. The result was more than satisfactory.

Basundi: Some like it with nuts, others like it plain

Basundi, Thickened Milk

Yields about 1 cup

Notes

This has so few ingredients that the taste of each one of them comes through, including the sugar. I like the taste of Indian sugar in this. Do use it if you have it.

Charoli is the more commonly used nut in Maharashtrian basundi.

The traditional way of using the nutmeg is by creating a nutmeg paste by rubbing the nutmeg in circular movements with a little water, on a round stone board. Here I have used freshly grated nutmeg.

Ingredients

4 cups whole milk
4-6 Tablespoons sugar
1 green cardamom pod
5-6 strands of saffron
a dash of grated nutmeg
chopped nuts like pistachios, almonds, or charoli, optional

Method

Bring the milk to a boil, then reduce the heat until it simmers and thickens up considerably, at least to a fourth of its original volume. This could take around two hours, depending on the heat source, size and thickness of pan, and amount of milk. Stir occasionally to make sure the milk does not scorch.

Add sugar to taste, starting with a smaller amount first. Peel the cardamom pod and powder the seeds with a mortar and pestle. Add the powder, grated nutmeg, and strands of crumbled saffron, and finally, chopped nuts. Basundi can be served warm, at room temperature or cold, depending on the type of meal and personal preferences.

The picture below shows the resulting thickness of the basundi I made. After being chilled in the fridge it thickened up further.

Basundi: Upclose

Adding Mango

Now, can a dessert like this be bettered or outdone? Well yes it can, by pairing it with a fabulous Alphonso mango. A long time ago I had read of a mithai store in Benares which served a seasonal sweet made of rabdi, saffron, and ripe mangoes, mixed together and served topped with chopped almonds, pistachios and a silver leaf. Even though I had never tasted anything like that, the description sounded nothing short of divine and was etched in my mind very firmly. So, here I was, with near-rabdi in the fridge, and a pretty good mango on hand, and the only thing I could think of was combining the two. I had for some reason set really high expectations for it, and was worried that the actual result might fall short of that, but it didn't. It was truly as amazing as I had imagined it to be.

In the first batch I pureed the mango in a food processor, but the end result got a little close to milk shake, so the next time I used a fork to mash up the mangoes, and that was definitely better in terms of texture. I used the flesh of one small mango for 1/2 cup of cold rabdi, then topped it with a tiny edible silver leaf and chopped pistachios.

Mango Rabdi: Dessert

Mango rabdi, dolled up in petite glasses, sashays down the red carpet for Meeta's Monthy Mingle.

40 comments:

Asha said...

Those pots are to die for, BEAUTIFUL!! Of course, Mango Rabdi sounds heavenly, so does Basindi!:)

bhags said...

well both the dishes look all fashionable in those pots and glasses....well loved the basundi more....

notyet100 said...

love both the recipe..and the mud dish in which u served basundi is awesome,,makes it look so edible,,i just feel like having it ..

Cham said...

Wow, such elegant desserts which fit perfectly the theme :)

Sandeepa said...

That looks so delicious and those earthen pots look so pretty

Richa said...

love that basundi in those beautiful kulhad's :)
charoli does add something special to basundi, i do remember ur bhopla bhaji using it ;)

Uma said...

lovely basundi in beautiful pots!

TheCooker said...

Radbi Devi is quite the looker!
But those pots....

Tee said...

Fabulous!!! the basundi, the pots and your entry for Bollywood cooking....loved them all :)

Mansi Desai said...

anything for those rabdi pots!! man, they are so "indian"...I love basundi, and make it often, but never tried with mango..thanks for the tip!:)

I posted my MM entry too today!:)

Divya Vikram said...

both look horgeous n heavenly

Ashwini said...

First I spent an inordinate amount of time looking at the earthern pots. Kulhads right? Oh gorgeous!
Then when I finally scrolled down and looked at the mango rabdi I almost licked off my screen :D
The papparazzi is sure to go crazy over this one!

Meera said...

Glamorous!!! Can't decide which one is more glamorous the one in Kulhad or Mango rabdi!! Simply superb

TBC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TBC said...

Oh, I love those kullhads!
Makes me almost want to have some basundi, though I'm not one for milky desserts.:D

bee said...

both look gorgeous. i'd never dare to make these things. i'd burn the milk for sure.

Madhu said...

Hi, the basundhi looks elegant. The final product is definitely worth the time we spend making it.

I make a basundhi in a short cut method using evaporated milk, paneer and condensed milk. You can check it out if you are interested. It's under the Desserts category.

sra said...

We've made rabdi by accident many times :) - we love thick curds so we set the milk on simmer and go about our work, and when we get this nice strong sweet smell, we know it's reduced much more than we intended it to! We never stir the milk and if the pan burns, it's only when it's still on fire after the milk has evaporated totally.

For really sweet curds, we reduce the milk by 1/2 the volume (or more) till it begins to turn colour, cool it down and set it - it's naturally sweet and thick.

I love the solo shot.

sowmya said...

lovely dessert ..they look so gorgeous...

Arundathi said...

absolutely gorgeous photos!

Miri said...

Wow! what luscious pots filled with creamy delights! Thanks for that food porn - really I drooled all over the screen!! :)

Miri

Purnima said...

ET, wonderful pots, loved the thick texture u obtained! Mango rabdi n garnishing look awesome!

nandita said...

That is truly a ROYAL Indian dessert :) complete with silver foil!
Perfect on the red carpet :)

evolvingtastes said...

Asha, bhags, notyet100, Cham, Sandeepa, Uma, Tee, Mansi, Divya, Ashwini, Meera, TBC, Madhu, sowmya, Arundathi, Miri, Purnima, nandita,

Thank you all for your lavish praise on the post, pots, and pictures. For all those who complemented me on the pots, also called kullhads: I was quite taken by these when I saw them on
Rachana's blog and had them on my list when I went to India last year. As a co-incidence, I was out on one of my rare shopping trips when I saw rows and rows of these kullhads at a stall. A perfect example of how something lovely doesn't always have to be too expensive.

Richa, someone around here has nearly banned charolis, so I have to make do with almonds and pistachios. I do like the charolis, if only for the basundi taste I recall from memories.

TheCooker, Radbi Devi! tcheh, now there is an off-putting image.

bee, I was a champion milk scorcher for a long time. Somehow things started to improve in the current house, where I haven't lived very long. It is the stove, not me. :-)

sra, if you add some melted sugar or jaggery to the reduced milk before you set the yogurt, you will be in Mishti Doi territory! Mishti doi fans are nearly religious in their zeal for it; I am yet to figure out its charms. At my parents place, we always boiled down the milk before setting it to make yogurts, ahem, curds, and so I do that too.

Meeta K said...

i was not sure if the post could get any better with the basindi but with the mango WOW! Thanks for the entry!

Maya said...

Everything in this post is just wonderful..The mango rabdi, basundi and the pots..

Priyanka said...

Lovely pics as usual ET. I am not very fond of basundis but the dolled up mango rabdi looks mouthwatering. (it brings back memories of Indore-ujjain and the Sarafas) I usually get the 2% milk so i dont think that would give as thick a consistency.

Suganya said...

That is drop dead gorgeous, ET. The pics are beautiful.

evolvingtastes said...

Meeta, Maya, Priyanka, Suganya, thanks much.

Priyanka, I have never tried this with anything other than whole milk, but if you use 2% you might have to use a lot more to get a very small quantity, and it might also take longer since more liquid needs to be evaporated. Also, non-homogonized organic milk gives me better results for reasons unknown.

Arfi Binsted said...

i want to make that!!!! yes, i will make that!!

shyam said...

Ohhh... I wish I could be your most favourite neighbour who lives right next to you :) How GORGEOUS this is...I love mango anything!

shyam said...

PS. I thought I'd add that I've been reading through your back posts, and I simply LOVE your style of writing, the photos, the recipes... basically what I'm saying is, I'm hooked! :) (I'd have said this in an email except that you havent provided an address.)

vandana rajesh said...

thats really yumm..can't wait to try it out myself.

Cynthia said...

This is all so very comforting.

ServesYouRight said...

Ah, you lily-gilder :-) Both versions sound sublime :-)

smita

Kate / Kajal said...

This post of yours has just transported me back home. Both look gorgeous and make we want to grab some out of the screen.
Very pretty mud, cups. Purely traditional !

Shantanu said...

OMG! They look del.icio.us. I had Basundi for the first time only when I moved into Pune.

evolvingtastes said...

Arfi, welcome to my blog. I do hope you try it out!

shyam, vandana, Cynthia, Smita, Kajal, Shantanu,
Thank you all for your comments, which you know I truly appreciate. My apologies for responding so late. Traveling, house-guests, and other things had kept me away from the blog for quite a while.

Uj said...

Basundi looks yummy.. need to try it.. It happens to be my fav sweet too... easy to make.. easier to eat :P.. Love your blog with yummy snaps and impressive style of writing..

evolvingtastes said...

Uj, thanks for all the praise and welcome to my blog!

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