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The Daring Cooks July Challenge: Misti Doi ( Bengali Style Sweet Yogurt)

Misti Doi

I am hopelessly late for this months Daring Cook’s challenge. But I have very good reason(s). Work was in the way. I didn’t have starter yogurt to make a fresh batch. And I wanted to make Bengali style sweet yogurt which we had for almost every meal in Calcutta. It starts with thickened milk made by stirring milk over low flame till it is halved in volume. And since I have never seen misti doi in anything but earthen pots (matkas), I also wanted to make it only when I bought the little pots and set the yogurt in that.

I tried it once and failed. So tried it again. It was better, similar in taste but in quiet in color.

See, I told you I had perfectly valid reasons why I am late.

Nevertheless, this is a recipe for a caramelized smoky sweetened yogurt. I am sure it is never made at home, almost always store bought. Just like the French buy their baugettes rather than make them from scratch, Bengalis eat misti-doi on their post-dinner stroll rather than making from scratch.

Either ways, give this light dessert a try. Am sure once you succeed at making this you will make this a regular. It can be eaten as is, stuffed in canoli for a unique filling or served in phyllo cups for an indo-western fusion dessert.

Note: For yogurt making tips, read this article. It has tips from using yogurt maker, to slow cooker to heating pad to have an optimum temperature to make yogurt at home.

Misti doi Recipe

Makes 2 servings

  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoon sugar + 1/2 tablespoon water to caramelize
  • 1/4 cup starter yogurt

1. Boil milk with sugar on low flame, stirring continuously till reduced in half. Make sure you scrape the fat that gets lined on the edges of saucepan and incorporate that back in the milk.

Keep an eye on this to prevent the milk from burning.

2. Once the milk is halved in volume, take it off the heat and set aside to cool.

3. In a smaller saucepan, caramelize the sugar. Once it is browned and sticky, remove from the flame. Add this to the reduced milk mixture. Stir well.

4. When the milk is lukewarm, add the yogurt and whisk well.

5. Pour into bowls and set aside to form yogurt in a warm place. This will take about 6- 8 hours in a warm place. Once set, put the yogurt in the refrigerator to set.

Serve chilled.

The Daring Cooks May Challenge: En Croute Paneer Puffs

Paneer Puffs

You remember the puff pastry dough that I shared last week? I made it for Daring cooks May challenge.  Don’t Make Me Call My Flying Monkeys , our hostess for May challenge, encouraged us to wrap food in pastry dough and then bake it.

Inspirations were shared of Beef Wellington, stuffed Portobello mushroom wrapped in pastry dough and even sausage pigs in blanket. I stuck to simple favorite of  paneer puffs. Homemade paneer was perfect filling for the crispy crunchy outer covering. They were lightly spiced with onions, chilies and had a pesto base. They would taste wonderful with any other seasoning of choice.

Homemade paneer

I filled the pastry with as much paneer as they could hold which caused some tears as I folded the puff over. But I liked the higher paneer to wrapping ratio!

Puffs to be filled

Be warned the puffs are filling – they are prefect as a weekend snack. Make them smaller for bite sized appetizer. We skipped dinner that evening.

Puffs Filled

This is my approximate recipe as most ingredients were eye-balled and adjusted for taste. A dash of cumin powder, some chili powder, squeeze of lemon. Store bought puff pastry sheets and paneer or even tofu can be easily used in this recipe. Just take care to thaw it per directions on the package before use.

Paneer Puffs Recipe

  • Puff pastry sheets thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups paneer,  thawed and crumbled ( if store-bought)
  • 1/2 cup – red onion finely chopped
  • 1 green chili, finely diced
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin  powder
  • Salt – to taste
  • A dash – black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon – lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup store bough pesto

1. Mix all the ingredients from red onions to lemon juice with paneer. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings per taste. Set aside in a bowl.

2.Pre-heat the oven to 425 F

3.Start with one pastry sheet and unfold it ( or roll out your homemade dough about 1/2 cm thick). Cut it into  squares depending on how big you want the snack to be.

4. Spread a bit of pesto on the dough. Fill with paneer mix. Fold over leaving some room for edges.

Seal  the edges with a fork so that the edges stick and don’t unfold during baking.

5. Bake for 12 -15 minutes, till golden  brown.

Serve warm with ketchup or mint chutney.

Watermelon Labneh Parfait

Labneh and Watermelon parfaits

I recently joined The Daring Kitchen, an online community where everyone month a new challenging recipe or technique is posted and enthusiasts around the world recreate it and post their results.

I was too late for their March 2013 Cheese Making Challenge, but I decided to try it out regardless. There were a few recipes shared on true cheeses like Mozzarella and Goat cheese. But as I didn’t have necessary ingredients on hand, I decided to go with a soft cheese recipe for Labneh. Labneh is a soft breakfast cheese made from yogurt.  Besides being yogurt based, it actually needs no other ingredients and is a recipe ( if I can call hanging a yogurt to drain the whey a recipe) that works on its own.

Curd hung to make labneh

Hanging the yogurt to remove its moisture is a typical first step in making Srikhand – a very traditional Maharashtrian desert. I remember days when my mom used to do this to create a very dry curd base called – chakka and then mix it with sugar, saffron or mango pulp to make Srikhand and Amrakhand. A creamy desert loved by kids and adults alike!

Labneh

Using labneh, I wanted to make a modern version of this traditional Indian desert. So instead of a sweet nutty desert, I served it  as a light breakfast parfait complete with saffron and pistachios.

Pairing the crunchy watermelons chunks with the soft creamy labneh is an exotic way to start your day.  Top it with a dollop of orange marmalade and honey for a touch of sweetness, while pistachios elevated the crunch factor.  I surprised Vipul with these on a weekday morning by serving them in wine goblets as they allowed for a generous serving.  Varun was excited by the colorful watermelon while I loved the crunchiness of pistachios and watermelon against the creamy labneh. I would love to try this with mangoes in summer. Though I think any fruit would work just as well -strawberries, blueberries, peaches!

Top view

A perfect start to any day where you want to feel like you are on vacation even though tons of work awaits you. Bliss in a glass when stresses abound. Try it. Am sure it will help you escape your daily work realities!

Breakfast Parfaits

Watermelon Labneh Parfait Recipe

  • 32 Oz container of full fat yogurt
  • 1 generous pinch – Saffron strands
  • Watermelon chunks – 1 cup
  • 2 tablespoon marmalade or honey
  • 1/4 cup pistachios -coarsely chopped

1. Take a clean white non terry cloth ( muslin or large men’s cotton handkerchief) and place yogurt in it. Tie it into a bundle. Place it in a colander with a bowl underneath to collect the whey. Let this drain in the refrigerator for a few hours to overnight to drain.

2. Squeeze excess whey out of the yogurt before  opening the yogurt bundle. Whisk the strained yogurt labneh with saffron to make it smooth and creamy.

3. In serving glasses, layer watermelon, labneh and pistachios. Drizzle some honey on top or scoop in orange marmalade. Top with pistachios.

Chill for a couple of hours to overnight. Serve chilled.

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