Fusion Indian caramel flan

Caramel, the name itself will get you imagining a beautiful golden river of sugar . Endless are the desserts which have caramel incorporated into them. Its a world wide favourite. Be it the salted caramel icecream or the luscious flans. Not to forget the alpenliebe caramel candy or the carmello cadbury chocolate both my favourites. Call this a flan, or a caramel custard , or a pudding, this dessert is always drool worthy.
Today’s recipe is my version of the caramel flan with a indian twist to it.

I have added cardamon and saffron with rose essence highlighting the pudding.
Recalling childhood days when we did not own an oven. Mummy made this pudding by steaming it . Of course she did not call it a flan, instead named it as bedhe ji pudding( egg pudding). And she always used cardamom as a flavoring . I never tried making this delicious pudding, only because either my mom or my sister always made this on my trips to India. This custard is also very popular in Parsi cuisine, called the lagna nu custard, normally served during weddings. The Parsi variation is more richly made. One of the best caramel custard pudding,I have ever eaten would be at the Dorabjee and sons Restaurant which is situated at dastur meher road , Pune. You can find the best authentic Parsi food here.
In recent years I have tried many receipes to get a good caramel flan, and this method is top rated in my diary.This flan be made by either baking it in an oven using a water bath, or by steaming it directly in a steamer.
Do try this recipe and relish it cold.

Ingredients
3 cups of full fat milk
200 ml condensed milk
3/4 cup sugar
4 eggs( at room temperature)
1/2 tsp saffrons strands soaked in a little hot water
1 tsp cardamom powder
1/4 tsp rose essence

Method
1. Boil milk and condensed milk together with the cardamom powder. Once it boils, shut the flame and keep aside. Cool completely.
2. To make the caramel, put 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of water in a pan and heat on high heat untill sugar melts and starts browning .At this point lower the heat and allow the sugar to turn to a beautiful golden brown liquid. Try not to stir in between. Transfer this caramel to either one big oven proof dish or divide it into 2 dishes. Allow the caramel to cool.
3. Beat 4 eggs lightly and add to the cool milk mixture. Mix well and strain this mixture.
4. Add the saffron liquid and rose essence to the milk and egg mixture.
5. Pour into the caramelized bowls , cover the bowls with aluminium foil .
Bake in a preheated oven at 170 degrees celcius for 60 mins.
Cool completely before transferring to the fridge..

Overturn the caramel onto a serving platter at the time of serving.

Garnish with sliced almonds and pistas.

* For the water bath baking, I put the flan dishes in a baking tray and poured hot water into the tray , to come upto 1/4 level of the dishes.
Using this method, the flan does not dry up and retains its moisture.

MILK SABJI/KHEERAJI BHAJI

MILK.. We are fed milk right from day one of our life, mothers milk and then weaned on to cows milk. For thousands of years human beings have grown up consuming cow milk. That is why a cow is treated like a mother in all parts of India, in fact a cow is considered very holy and sacred for all  Hindus. Milk has a very important place in all cuisines worldwide. Desserts from all over the world are mainly made from milk.. from ice creams to kulfis, mithais to toffees, cheese cakes to kalakhand. Milk is incorporated in many forms in Indian cuisine, it forms the very basis for our ghee and butter, and of course yogurt or dahi. No Indian home can function without milk, the average Indian man has at least 2 or 3 cups of milk tea or chai on a daily basis. Tea vendors can be found on most streets in India doing a roaring business at all times of the day, it is not unusual to see small groups of people holding impromptu discussions with their cuppa of chai . Most Indian households also make their own yogurt or dahi at home.

Milk also gives us Paneer or home made cottage cheese which is the strained  residue left after the milk has been curdled. Paneer based dishes are a must in most family gatherings especially amoung the sindhi, punjabi and bengali communities.Normally when the milk is curdled ,the remaining clear liquid , which is called  whey,  is discarded. Whey actually has a lot of nutrients, and there are many households who will put the whey to some use like kneading the bread or roti dough with it.

Todays recipe is based on milk which has been curdled, this easy to make dish is based on a long lost memory. Years ago milk was delivered early in the mornings by the milk man, it used to come in glass bottles. Even then the aluminium cover was an indication of low fat and full cream, the blue cover was for full cream milk and the green colour for low fat milk. I remember my grandfather collecting the milk at 5.30 am from the doorstep as he was an early riser. Baba then took the blue topped milk bottle and gently kept tilting it back and forth for a good 15 to 20 miniutes . Ater that when the bottle was opened, the milk had already separated with the fat rising to the top and forming a layer of white butter at the top, which mummy used to scoop out into a bowl for our breakfast. The remaining milk hence turned into fat free naturally.I remember once my mother was in the kitchen boiling milk and the milk happend to curdle, but she coolly went on boiling it and when the whey had reduced considerably, she added some green masala paste to it and lo behold it had turned into a delicious sabji..So based on that is todays recipe, the milk sabji or as we say in sindhi, kheeraji bhaji.. It is a very simple dish and is delicious at the same time, best eaten with phulkas and a side dish of potato sabji.

MILK sabji/ kheeraji bhaji

INGREDIENTS

2 ONIONS.. FINELY CHOPPED

3 MEDIUM TOMATOES …THINLY SLICED

1 TBSP FINELY CHOPPED GARLIC

1 TBSP GRATED GINGER

FINELY CHOPPED CORRIANDER LEAVES

12 CURRY LEAVES

2 TBSPS OF DRY KASOORI METHI

1 TBSP CUMIN SEEDS

1 TSP AJWAIN ..( CAROM SEEDS)

RED CHILIE POWDER, TURMERIC POWDER ,  GARAM MASALA AND SALT TO TASTE.

FEW DROPS OF VINEGAR

1 LITRE OF FULL CREAM MILK

METHOD..

1.. HEAT 3 TBSPS OIL IN A BROAD SAUCEPAN AND ADD THE CUMIN AND CAROM SEEDS( JEERA AND AJWAIN). WHEN THE SEEDS STOP SPLUTTERING, ADD ONIONS, GARLIC, GINGER AND CURRY LEAVES.. SAUTE TILL ONIONS START TURNING A GOLDEN BROWN, TAKE CARE NOT TO BURN THE ONIONS.

2.. ADD THE TOMATOES, RED CHILIE POWDER, TURMERIC POWDER , GARAM MASALA POWDER AND SALT . MIX GENTLY TILL EVERYTHING COMES TOGETHER AND FORMS A THICK GRAVY.. AT THIS POINT ADD THE DRY 20160911_185639 KASOORI METHI AND SOME CORRIANDER LEAVES.

3.. POUR THE MILK DIRECTLY INTO THE GRAVY AND STIR GENTLY , BRINGING IT TO A BOIL. ADD FEW DROPS OF VINEGAR AND CHECK IF THE MILK CURDLES , IF NOT ADD FEW DROPS MORE. BY THIS  TIME THE MILK SHOULD HAVE SEPARATED INTO SMALL GRAINS…

4.. KEEP THE MILK ON A ROLLING BOIL , UNCOVERED FOR ABOUT 15 MINS, AND THEN CONTINUE COOKING ON A MEDIUM FLAME UNTIL THE WHEY HAS REDUCED TOTALLY AND YOU ARE LEFT WITH A VELVETY  GRANULAR MIXTURE.. ADD SOME MORE CORRIANDER LEAVES AND SERVE HOT..