Delightfully different

Anjali Jhangiani
Thursday, 12 October 2017

We find out how traditional Indian desserts are given an international twist at restaurants across the city and how you can try out some of the recipes this Diwali

Come Diwali, your fridge is stocked with boxes of traditional Indian sweets gifted by family and friends. Though you love the good ol’ Gulab Jamun, the too familiar Kaju Katli and the always around Motichoor Laddoo, don’t you wish they got a contemporary update? 

With a little experimentation, some restaurants across the city are trying out new versions of traditional Indian sweets to make it more interesting to the crowd that loves to try out new things. 

Talking about the Rabdi Mousse served at Mandarin and Mircchi (in Yerawada), founder and CEO Rachel Goenka, says, “Every Diwali, we conceptualise a few creative dishes to wow our customers. In Mumbai, we have been doing this for five years now and are excited to bring a little bit of sass to Diwali desserts in Pune too. A few years ago, I did an Aflatoon Cheesecake, then the year after did an Indian version of Red Velvet with Shrikhand. You need to ask yourself what am I trying to achieve here. And what is my key ingredient that has to stand out? If it’s the mithai element, then everything around it should enhance the mithai flavour in a contemporary way. It’s not about corrupting the flavour by doing a mishmash of things.”

She enlightens us on how any chef worth his salt hates the word ‘fusion’ when describing their innovations. “Fusion is basically taking two different cuisines and merging them. It doesn’t always end well. Instead, I encourage my team to think out of the box and focus more on things like flavour combinations, textures and presentation. The smaller details make all the difference,” she says. 

Chef Ajay Chopra, who has curated the menu at Pandora Gastronomy and Bar Pune, believes that progressive Indian food is the way forward. “Chefs today are exploring regional Indian cuisines and blending them with international ingredients. One should always keep the basic flavours and methods in mind whilst innovating any dish. Whether it is a Gulab Jamun Cheesecake or a Jalebi Caviar, it may look very different but the flavours still have to be very much retained,” he shares. 

Pandora has interesting desserts like Kheer Parfait, Jalebi Mille Fuille and Stuffed Kala Jamun, Anjeer and Doda Barfee Crumble, among others. Adds Chopra, “Modern Indian cuisine and robust flavours — both are being appreciated around the world today. The culinary conference at San Sebastian’s theme this year is Indian food and there are some stalwarts of the cuisine representing it. More than demand I would call this exposure and the curiosity has increased to try something new.”

Chef Sabyasachi Gorai has modified the Chenna Poda, a classical Oriya dessert, into Jurassic Cheesecake served at Mineority By Saby, Kalyani Nagar. “A strong understanding of the basic two dishes is very important. In this case, it is the classical American Cheesecake and Chenna Poda from Odisha, which actually is the oldest Cheesecake invented in India. Most people do not know about the dish. So we thought of introducing this traditional dish in a new way to the new generation. We have tried to resemble it with Western Cheesecake in terms of presentation without changing its originality,” says Gorai. The main ingredients of the dish are baked cheese, sweet khari and French custard. 

For Rabri Sauce
Full fat milk... - 1 litre
Sugar... - 2 tbsp 
Green cardamoms crushed... - 3
Saffron strands... - 7
Rose water... - 1 tsp
Almonds and pistachios... - 1 tbsp

Whipped cream - 200 gm
Gelatin     - 20 gm 
White chocolate (melted) - 250 gm 

- Heat the full fat milk in a thick bottom vessel on low flame till a layer of cream forms on top. Simmer the milk till it reduces to half its quantity, add sugar, cardamom, saffron, rose water, almonds and pistachios and keep stirring. Remove from flame and allow it to cool. This is the Rabdi Sauce. 
- Add the whipped cream to the Rabdi Sauce and add gelatin to it. 
- Pour this mix into silicon moulds and freeze for a day. 
- Once set, take out the Rabdi Mousse on a plate or bowl, pour the melted white chocolate on top to coat it and serve immediately. 
- You can also use mint leaves, Motichoor Laddoo or saffron for garnishing.
(Recipe by Rachel Goenka)

For Gajar Halwa Spring Roll 
Carrots     - 1 kg
Ghee - 120 gm
Sugar - 200 gm
Milk - 700 ml
Mawa - 75 gm
Cardamom - 5 gm
Cream cheese - 70 gm
Spring roll sheets - 6 sheets
Oil for frying  

Frozen or fresh strawberry purée - 100 gm
Gelatin     - 10 gm 
Sugar.................................................35 gm 

- For the Strawberry Jelly, boil strawberry puree, gelatin and sugar together. Take off heat and put it into a sheet pan. Once cool and set, cut the jelly into squares and store aside. 
- In a heavy bottom pan, cook the grated carrots with the milk till the milk dries out, then add the sugar and ghee and cook till glossy. Add the cardamom powder and mawa and cook for another three minutes. Add the cream cheese, mix well and cool the halwa. 
- Take the spring roll sheet, stuff with the Gajar Halwa, secure it like a spring roll and deep fry.
- Sprinkle thick sugar syrup on the crisp fried halwa and serve with strawberry jelly and cheese ice cream.
(Recipe by Ajay Chopra)

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