Hello all and a very Happy New Year! We wish for the best and hope this year brings in the best for everyone.
I have been gone for a while: away from technology, and all social media, spending the most precious time with my family for the past few weeks. It was indeed the long desired, required and a replenishing break for all of us. We are going to be missing one another now. But life has to move ahead, right? I hope all of you have had a good holiday as well and is ready to start this year.
I will start this year with a simple, untainted and yet a very graceful recipe: Shrikhand – a popular side dish or a dessert from the western states of Gujarat and Maharashtra.
It is one of those recipes in the purest form created with very few ingredients, the bare basics being the smooth and creamy yogurt, sugar and natural flavors. Flavored yogurts have become popular all over the world.
It has been the age old practice to make Shrikhand in Indian kitchens.
It is easy to make your own flavored yogurt at home, as you will see from this recipe. It also offers you the flexibility to use any flavors or fruits you want.
The traditional flavoring used is cardamom powder and/or saffron. “Amrakhand” or Shrikhand flavored with mangoes is a popular seasonal variation that cools and soothes during the summer months. In these modern days Shrikhand is made and sold with all kinds of fruity flavors with fresh fruits. I use a lot of fresh berries and lemon or orange zest during the summer months.
However the combination of saffron and cardamom that gently laces the Shrikhand in its original form, will always be the absolute favorite!
The process of making Shrikhand is very simple. Plain (often homemade) yogurt is strained through a cloth to remove the whey. The yogurt with the liquid drained transforms into a thick creamy mass called “chakka“. The “chakka” is mixed with the flavors and sweeteners and chilled again before serving.
Chakka: strained yogurt ( I have used a sieve here as you can tell from the marks) ready to be combined with saffron and sugar.
…uncomplicated, nurturing and blissfully good.
Saffron Shrikhand: Saffron Flavored Creamy Yogurt
Ingredients: (makes approx. 3 cups)
- approx. 3 cups (8 oz cup) pref. whole milk yogurt (with the whey completely drained)
- 1/2-3/4 cup confectioners sugar (you can grind everyday sugar to make confectioners sugar)*
- a large pinch of very good quality saffron threads – more won’t hurt
- 1 tablespoon warm milk
- 1/2 – 3.4 teaspoon powdered seeds of the small green cardamom
- almonds or pistachios, finely chopped (nuts may be added to the Shrikhand and also used for garnish)
- berries or fruits for garnish – optional
Greek Yogurt may be used. If thick Greek yogurt is used for this dish, you might skip the step of draining the whey/liquid from the yogurt). Some prefer using a couple of tablespoon of sour cream (not traditional at all!) to the Shrikhand, esp. if store bought yogurt is used – just to add that edge of tart. It depends on your personal taste. So if you feel there is lack of balance and the if Shrikhand is too sweet, feel free to use the sour cream.
* I recommend using confectioners or really fine sugar for this dish. There is less chance for the Shrikhand to get watery over time if fine sugar is used. However it can be done with regular table sugar.
Honey may be used to sweeten instead of sugar, even though it is not a traditional form of sweetener.
If you are not using Greek yogurt, the yogurt will need to be drained for a few hours, preferably overnight. You can use muslin cloth or cheesecloth. With cheesecloth, you will need to use a few layers of cheesecloth so the yogurt does not run out and only the whey does. At the end of this process the yogurt will be thick and creamy lump with no dripping liquid. Draining it longer (a couple of days) will not hurt. The thicker and creamier it gets the better.
Put yogurt in middle of muslin cloth or cheesecloth, bring up ends, and tie the ends or right where the lump of yogurt ends. You can tie the cloth to a ladle and place the ladle on a large bowl. Make sure the draining end of the cloth is not touching the bowl. There should be enough space between the draining end and the bottom of the bowl. Place yogurt in the refrigerator and let drain for a about six hours or overnight.
Note that the yogurt may be drained in a fine sieve or strainer too. I usually use a large and very fine strainer with handle, which I place over a deep bowl. Leave it to drain uncovered in the refrigerator. Uncovered because it dries out from the top too for a better texture
When the yogurt is completely drained, remove from the refrigerator. On a hot skillet toast the saffron threads briefly until just fragrant. Remove from heat and crush them. Slightly warm the milk. Combine saffron and milk and let steep for about 15 minutes.
Transfer drained yogurt in a bowl. Combine cardamom powder, sugar and saffron mix to the yogurt. Use a hand held (not battery operated) whisk and whisk the yogurt really well until silky, creamy and lump free. If you want you may add nuts to the Shrikhand and also garnish with them.
Chill before serving. The saffron infuses color and flavor if it sits longer. I love topping my Shrikhand with berries or any seasonal fruit. However that is optional. Just saffron and nuts are perfect by themselves.
Preparation Time: 6 hours or more or overnight (for draining the yogurt.) none is Greek yogurt is used
Cooking Time/Making Time: 10 -15 minute
Difficulty Level: Very easy
Serves/makes: approx. 3 cups
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