Long before butter and cream became the major culprits for shrinking my clothes, I had a standard dessert I would make quite often. Super rich and creamy, delectable Basundi. As a just married, new entrant in a kitchen all my own, the thought of cooking three meals a day was intimidating enough. I honestly don't remember making much at home by way of dessert as frequent visits to Baskin Robins and Corner House more than took care of the sugar cravings!
The perfect time to make this sweet dish was when the (only) gas cylinder was just replaced. The luxury of having the stove on for 3 hours non-stop without the fear of it flickering away half-way through! And then, chill it and present it to hubby with all the pride of a new bride in the kitchen. The left-overs would only taste even better eaten while I read my Sidney Sheldons and Mills and Boon!
The aroma of saffron from these tuiles lingered in my memory long after they were eaten. Milk and saffron were made for each other, (well, Romeo and Juliet can come later if you insist as it's Valentine's Day!) and I just had to make basundi! Brother and sister-in-law coming over for dinner was the perfect excuse to put that whole milk on the stove. Rich desserts are lighter on the conscience when meant for company!
My preferable time of the day to make basundi is after the lunch is cooked, when I do not have rasam or kadhi simmering on the next burner. Am all set with music and a book as all I need to do is just hang around the place and stir the milk as and when it calls for attention. Made early in the day, there is enough time for the pudding to chill and thicken further, dessert's ready by dinner time!
The basic recipe and the procedure broadly remain the same, slight variations depending on your preference and convenience. I like to put the milk on sim, though it takes a good 2 hours plus to reduce it. Lesser chances of the milk burning, a little easier on your arms and the milk tastes so good after simmering for so long! Please do it as you like.
Basundi : Creamy Milk Pudding laced with cardamom and saffron. A lovely summer dessert!
What you need : You will need a wide, thick bottomed kadhai / deep pan, big enough to allow stirring without the milk spilling out. A good strong ladle or a flat slotted skimmer to help break the layer of cream on the top of the milk effectively. A small clean plate near the stove to keep the ladle on when not in use. Be sure everything you use is really clean, free of any acidic substances as it may cause the milk to split. A small cup to soak the saffron in.
Ingredients: (Makes about 1 liter of Basundi, depending on how thick you want it)
Whole milk (at least 4.5% fat) : 3 liters / 12 cups
Sugar - 6 - 8 tablespoons
Saffron strands - a generous pinch or two
Cardamom powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Sliced pistachios and or sliced toasted almonds - 1/3 cup
Extra chilled milk and powdered sugar to adjust the consistency if needed on chilling.
- Bring the milk in the pan to a boil, reduce the heat to low..
- Reserve 2 tablespoons of hot milk from the pan, soak the saffron in it, cover and let infuse.
- Simmer the milk on low, checking every 8 -10 minutes.
- Using the ladle or skimmer, scrape the cream at the sides as and when it forms, back into the milk.
- Break the layer of cream on top with continuous, stirring motions on the surface of the milk. Its important to break the layer of cream which will keep forming on the top too. Or you will end up with long bits of dry-ish cream in the milk. (Some people do prefer it that way).
- Avoid scraping the bottom as you may get unappealing brown bits here and there. Continue doing this every 8-10 minutes or so, while you keep a constant watch on the milk. Do not let the milk boil over or form too thick a layer of cream on top. Do not leave the milk unattended for more than 10 minutes.
- What we want to do is let
the milk reduce, while scraping back every bit of cream into the
simmering milk. What you do want is very thick pudding, full of bits of soft
cream (not smooth like condensed milk, not grainy like mava / khoya). It will have lots of soft cream bits, but will still be homogenous.
- The milk will become very thick and reduce to almost a third. You can reduce more or less as you prefer. This takes about 2.5 hours. Do remember, the pudding will thicken further on cooling.
- The time will vary depending on the quantity you are making, the pan and the heat given, so go by what you see in the pan.
minutes before you turn off the heat, add 6 tablespoons sugar and the
saffron infused milk. This may alter the consistency slightly, but the basundi
will thicken again as it cools.
- Once you take it off the heat, cool, add the cardamom powder and the sliced pistachios. Taste. Add some powdered sugar if needed.
- Chill thoroughly. If the pudding is very thick on chilling, add some chilled milk little by little to adjust the consistency.
- Serve chilled, garnished with sliced pistachios.