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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.

Sweet Weekend Beginnings: Roasted Balsamic Grapes

over icecream

Finally Friday evening here and you know what that means…its weekend time! Time to chill, relax and not think about work.

And we are ending our Friday evening with yogurt topped with roasted balsamic grapes. If you have never had this before then let me tell you this is the perfect ice-cream topping. Crunchy from the grapes seeds, sweet due to caramelized natural sugar in grape and a hint of acidity from the reduced balsamic vinegar.

Very very easy to make,this is another stellar dish where quality of ingredients shine. Put it for your summer weekend BBQ and I am sure it will be a hit with kids and adults alike. Don’t like grapes? No worries, this goes well with cherries, berries as well as peaches.

It goes well with ice-cream, pancakes or as crepes filling.

Serve and be prepared for compliments on your culinary skills.

Happy weekend!!

Roasted grapes

Roasted Balsamic Grapes Recipe

  • 2 cups red grapes cut in half
  • 1/3 rd cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon parsley (or rosemary)

1. Soak the grapes in the balsamic vinegar and parsley and let them macerate for at least 30 minutes.

2. Preheat oven to 425 F.

3. Drain the balsamic vinegar into a saucepan. Layer the grapes in a single layer on a cookie sheet and let them bake in lower third of the oven for 10 -12 minutes. They will be caramelized and shriveled but still will retain their shape.

Remove them in a bowl.

4. Reduce the balsamic vinegar on medium heat for about 4- 5 minutes till it thickens. Add this reduction to the grapes.

Mix well.

Serve warm over thick greek yogurt, ice-cream,pancakes, crepes or even PBJ.

Yummm!!

Lychee Yogurt Mousse with Tropical Fruits

lychee mousse 2

Its been ages since I have posted a dessert recipe. I was looking forward to making something sweet. But I have put on weight and really can’t handle any more weight gain. So I wanted to make something light and refreshing without being sinful. And also seasonal. Lychees – juicy, plump and sweet- are in season and I wanted to incorporate them in some way.

Lychee

A search for lychees on foodgawker revealed mousse’s with lychee or drinks with lychee. Heavy cream, eggs, full fat milk featured in all recipes and while my heart as tempted my waistline said a firm “No”.  Not till I lose another 10 lbs or so.

I continued searching online and came across this concept of yogurt mousse. Made with drained thick yogurt, this looked light, refreshing and healthy. Something like Indian Srikhand or Middle Eastern Labneh but with gelatin. Akin to Italian Panna Cotta but without the cream. I was intrigued and decided to give it a try. Yogurt was left to strain in a cheese cloth over a bowl. Fresh lychees were promptly peeled, de-seeded and pureed. Everything was mixed together and left to set in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

We went out to do some chores, came back home to a creamy dessert. Lightly sweetened and naturally flavored it was a hit. The diced mangoes complemented the lychee yogurt. Kiwi’s added a hint of tartness and crunch with its seeds.

We could make only 2 servings as we didn’t have too much yogurt on hand. But this recipe can be easily scaled up for a party or a potluck. Individual cups make serving a breeze. I am going to make this again – probably with peaches and tender coconut! Yumm!

Lychee mousee eaten

Lychee Yogurt Mousse Recipe

For mousse

  • 2 cups yogurt
  • Fresh Lychees – 10 (peeled and de-seeded) (Or use canned lychees, drained and patted dry)
  • 1/4 cup sugar ( optional on sweet the fruit it) (skip if using canned as they would be sweetened with syrup)
  • 1 packet unflavored gelatin (or agar-agar if vegetarian)

For garnish

  • 1 small mango diced
  • 1/2 kiwi peeled and sliced
  • Fresh lychees, peeled and de-seeded

1. Set a colander over a bowl. Drape a cotton cloth over it. Pour the yogurt in it. Gather all the ends together and form a pouch. Squeeze the top to remove moisture from the yogurt. Let this sit for an hour or so.

Remove the drained thick yogurt in a bowl.

2. Puree the lychees in a blender with sugar.

3. Sprinkle the gelatin on lychee puree and let sit for 5 minutes to bloom.

4. Pour the lychee mix on the yogurt. Mix well.

5. Ladle the mix into serving bowls and refrigerate for couple of hours. For larger serving size, refrigerate overnight else the center may not set well.

6. Garnish with fruits and serve chilled.

Eggless Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Eggless cake slice

I have been craving tres leches cake since Cinco De Mayo. Yea, I am crazy that way. I can nurture a craving for a long time till it balloons into an urge that envelopes me and I have no choice but to surrender to it. I caved in and made myself a tres leches cake or the cake soaked in 3 types of milk.

The original cake is a Mexican or some Latin- American creation and is very rich and seductive. One spoonful of this custard like cake leaves you asking for more. Condensed milk, heavy cream, eggs and evaporated milk come together in an irresistible way. Sweet, creamy, sinful. It is hence usually served in most places in a small portion.

Tres Leches cake eggless

But I have had enough of those small portions and wanted to really dig in.But alas I did not have enough eggs on hand. I mean it is weeknight, I need to save eggs for breakfast. I really did not want to go out and buy more eggs on a weeknight or change breakfast plans.

Soaking in Syrup

And thus out of necessity, an eggless tres leches cake was born.

The cake was not as “custard” like as the egg version of the same but tasty nevertheless. Soaked in milk syrup overnight it was decadent, spongy and rich. And sweet with bold taste of condensed milk. We ate it with “mucho gusto”.

A large slice was perfect as breakfast. Sweet and spongy.Darn,I could have used those eggs after all and made this a more creamy affair!

Eggless Tres Leches Cake

For the Cake

  •  1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 can condensed milk

For the Soaking Syrup

  • 1/2 can condensed milk
  • 1 cup whole milk ( or evaporated milk)
  • 1/3 rd cup fresh cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C or 325 F. Grease a bundt pan with butter and set aside.

2.Mix all the cake ingredients well for 1 minute and then pour the mixture into the pan. Bake for 25 – 27 minutes.

Remove and let cool completely.

3. Mix the syrup ingredients and beat well.Set aside till the cake is cool.

4. Take the cake out of the pan and set it on a plate with raised edges. Pour half the syrup all over the cake. The cake is spongy so does not need to be pricked with a fork before pouring the syrup.

5. Let the cake soak in the syrup for 4 hours in the fridge to overnight. Ladle the run off syrup over the cake a couple of times so as to ensure that the cake soaks it off.

6. Serve chilled with a few teaspoons of syrup poured over the sliced cake.

A Big Yellow Cake With Chocolate Frosting

Varuns yellow -chocolate cake

I was busy making Varun a “biiiiggg” yellow cake with chocolate frosting. He has been asking me all week to bring a big cake to his pre-school on Friday.

I indulged him and baked him a yellow cake with chocolate frosting. This is the best cake ever!

Recipe is from Smitten Kitchen’s best birthday cake. I agree with the title!

We ate the bits and pieces from the cake’s dome. Varun’s school mates get to enjoy it tomorrow.

Apologies for a mobile phone picture. Can’t keep the cake out due to heat and humidity and if I open the fridge any longer, Varun will steal the M& M’s off the top.

I will be back with a real post tomorrow night – a contemporary paan experience in Hyderabad. In the meantime have a great day and thank you for reading me!

Summer In A Cup: Mango Panna Cotta

MAngo Panna Cotta

Panna Cotta is a simple custard made by simmering milk, cream, sugar and gelatin and chilled till it sets. Silky smooth it is light and a perfect weeknight dessert. Quick and easy to make, leave it in the fridge to set, top with some fresh fruits to ease the guilt.

As mangoes are in season, and I had fresh cream on hand (since we boil milk everyday and save the creamy skin) I made a mango panna cotta. Most recipes call for the custard to be set for at least 4 hours but we couldn’t really wait more than two. Topped with fresh mangoes it was every bit of summer in a cup.

Use canned mango pulp, fresh Mexican mangoes or substitute with other seasonal fruits – strawberries and rhubarb particularly would be awesome this time of the year in US/UK.

Give it a try – its easy to make in a large quantity if you are entertaining or scaled down dessert just for two!

Mango Panna Cotta Recipe
Serves 4

  • 2 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 packet Gelatin ( or Agar Agar if vegetarian)
  • 1 cup fresh cream
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 1 cup mango pulp
  • 1/4 cup sugar (optional if the mango is sweet)
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (optional)

Garnish

  • Fresh mango cubed
  • Mint

1.  Add the gelatin to water and stir well so that there are no lumps. Set aside for 5 -10 minutes.

2. In the meantime bring the cream, milk, sugar, mango pulp and vanilla bean to a simmer. Take off heat.

3. Add gelatin and stir well.

4. Remove the vanilla bean, if using, split and scrape it. Mix well. If you want a smooth mixture without tell-tale mango pulp bits then run through a blender.

5. Ladle in individual cups. Keep in refrigerator to set for at least 4 hours.

6. To serve, top with fresh fruit and mint leaves. Enjoy!

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