Thandai pannacotta with strawberry and mango coulis
Thandai pannacotta with strawberry and mango coulis is everything you want a summer dessert to be. Its light and creamy, cold and sweet, fruity and definitely exotic. Its not just the thandai (Indian spiced almond milk) that makes this exotic. This perfect marriage of the classic Indian drink with the Italian favorite dessert is taken further by the addition of dried gulkand, dried rose petals and saffron! Perfect, make ahead desserts that can impress your guests anytime. Make this for Holi and win everyone’s hearts!
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.” ― Dalai Lama XIV
For the longest time I used to get annoyed when my mother told me its important to be kind. I used to shake her words off like I always do when something doesn’t sound too important in my head. Lets just say, that was the folly of a young and silly twenty year old me. This thirty yr old, slightly mature version of me now lives and breathes my mother’s words, and well..the Dalai Lama’s words too. In a world that is strife with violence today, kindness has become that much more important; important to teach and much more vital to practice, to put into action those words you preach to your kids. Kindness should be your way of life, it should be what you practice without anyone having to tell you or you trying to impress anyone. It should just come naturally. And it does to so many people. I am lucky I know so many of them.
When I was young, Holi used to be just about playing with friends. Now its actually understanding the significance behind this crazy festival where people color each other with gulaal and play with all kinds of color. Everyone greets each other with hugs and shares food in a huge communal display of camaraderie, love and oneness.
You see Holi reassure people of the power of the truth and reaffirms their faith in the victory of good over evil.
For a country as vast and cacaphonic as India, Holi helps to bring the society together and strengthen the secular fabric of our country. Religious divides are relaxed as Holi is played with equal fervor by people of all religion in India. Besides, on this day people do not differentiate between the rich and poor and everybody celebrates the festival together with a spirit of bonhomie and brotherhood.
This year in our society I am spearheading a drive where we are giving new clothes to all the help and pichkaris, gulaal and mithai to their families. We are making them lunch, sharing our food with them in a big party on the open lawns and giving them a break for two days. Its not much but you should have seen the grin it bought on my help Anita’s face!! That, that glorious smile was all I wanted. And she’s so silly going about telling all her friends about Swayam di who is inviting all the maids to the campus for a party. At first I felt embarrassed. But now, I just feel happy to see them happy by doing such a simple thing.
You see, Holi in India is a magical day..Its like living in a techni-colored 3D show where everything is so colorful it almost hurts your eyes. Imagine red and yellow colored cloud being thrown in front of you and colliding with a vivid blue cloud…now imagine that cloud turning green in front of your very eyes! Where else can you see such color magic happen if not in India during Holi!??
Just like Amitabh Bachhan crooning “Rang Barse bheegey chunar wale” and drinking bhang is etched forever in our city-bred minds with the image of Holi, the real essence of Holi is remarkably marked with other deeper things.While you and I shake our booty to some latest tracks from Bollywood, clad in our aviator designer shades and silk scarfs, afraid of the colors and its chemicals, some others immerse themselves in the gulaal. Everywhere you see, there will be a new colorful story unfolding..
Somewhere it’s the children doing what they do best, and at other places it will be the soulful singing at the Radha Raman mandir that will enthrall you and take you to a parallel universe. You can see it in the mystical chanting of Krishna’s name by the throng of worshippers..and in the slow rhythmic dancing to the bhajans sung all week long. You will witness it in the drenched and heavily gulalled (colored) people..and the colorful festooned roofs of the temples. Its present in the electrifying temple precincts and the blissful lone man lost in the throes of bhang..in the craziness of the sheer amount of fervor and gaiety that grips the spirit of these people..the devotion that comes with the territory of heartfelt belief and faith..the utter surrender to the lord..the chanting of Radhe Radhe that can have a hypnotizing effect on the people..the official roving pichkari spouting colored water on the audience as a final offering of blessing..the water laden rose garlands thrown into the air by the priests and the ecstasy and beyond as you witness the Aarti..The ultimate Salvation or Moksha achieved!
Yes, Holi is a powerful feeling..not just a celebration of color. Its a celebration of the human spirit.
And this year I decided to give good old Holi staple Thandai a much more colorful twist..Now its a dessert that is worthy of the colorful celebration that Holi is!
Thandai is a drink made from almond milk and spices, served chilled during the hot summer days and usually on Holi. It is extremely cooling during the summers and is a common drink in North India. Today, though its enjoyed by almost every region. Traditionally thandai masala is a blend of milk that has been simmered with blanched almonds, cashew, pistachios, melon seeds,poppy seeds, saffron, sugar, green cardamom, rose petals , cinnamon and black pepper. You can make the thandai masala yourself or simple buy a bottle of thandai masala from the store like I did. I use Guruji Thandai and it works really well.
I made a pannacotta of thandai! Yes, so easy and so delicious. After toying with the idea of making of some icecream or popsicles, I finally gave in and went for my favorite dessert, pannacotta. This Italian classic is the simplest dessert there is. You can find chocolate pannacotta in the blog which is simply one of my favorites ever. Its just cream cooked with the flavoring (thandai in this case) and set with gelatin. To make things more interesting and Holi worthy, I added some layers of basic fresh fruit coulis. I used season fresh strawberries and mangoes for this and it worked really well with the thandai. Served cold from the fridge with a smattering of dried gulkand, rose and saffron threads, this was a dessert worthy of a fine dining restaurant. Not only does it look good, it is extremely easy to make (30 mins for the whole thing, apart from setting time) but is so cooling! The thandai flavour is a must try in case you aren’t hooked onto it yet. And if you love thandai as much as we do, then promise you will make this. You can thank me later after your family and friends have sung praises of u
POINTS TO BE NOTED:
Please make it the night before if you want it set in clear layers like mine. You will need to wait till one layer freezes completely before adding the next, so setting takes time. Plan ahead. Keeps perfectly in fridge for 3 days.
Alternatively, freeze for upto a week. Just take it out for ten mins and keep in fridge till serving time.
Never serve warm. HAS to be served COLD. Not frozen.
Wishing everyone a glorious Holi…May the colors of love, compassion and kindness never fade!
5.0 from 6 reviews
Thandai pannacotta with strawberry and mango coulis
Thandai (spiced Almond Milk) pannacotta with strawberry and mango coulis is everything you want a summer dessert to be. Its light and creamy, cold and sweet, fruity and definitely exotic.. This perfect marriage of the classic Indian drink with the Italian favorite dessert is taken further by the addition of dried gulkand, dried rose petals and saffron! Perfect, make ahead desserts that can impress your guests anytime. Make this for Holi and win everyone's hearts!
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: Italian, Indian
Serves: 6 servings
For the THANDAI PANNA COTTA:
Full fat Fresh Cream - 500 ml
Milk - ½ cup
Gelatin powder - 2 tsp
Sugar - 4 tbsp (adjust as per taste)
Thandai masala or syrup - 2 tbsp (I used Guruji's Thandai syrup)
For the MANGO COULIS:
Puree of two ripe mangoes
Sugar as per taste, I used 2 tbsp
Lemon Juice of half a lemon
2 tbsp water.
For the STRAWBERRY COULIS:
200gms strawberries, hulled
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoon lemon juice, divided use
1-2 tablespoons water
Dried Gulkand - for garnish.
Cut mangoes or strawberry - for garnish
Mint leaf- for garnish
Saffron threads and dried rose petals - for garnish
Leave out the other garnishes mentioned above if you can't find them and simply top with some freshly whipped cream and cut fruits as garnish. Just as delicious!
Start by making the STRAWBERRY COULIS:
Puree together the chopped strawberries, sugar, lemon juice and just 1-2 tsp of water. Transfer mixture to a saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Continue to boil until mixture thickens to syrup consistency. Strain. Set aside to cool. Pour into glasses, cover with foil/ clingfilm and freeze till set. In the meanwhile, get started on the thandai.
For the THANDAI PANNA COTTA:
Pour ½ cup of milk into a bowl. Evenly sprinkle gelatin on top; set aside for two minutes.
Place 400ml of cream, sugar and the thandai into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer (don't boil it). Use a whisk to stir the mixture together till its mixed well.
Strain the gelatin mixture into the cream-thandai mixture and stir until gelatin is completely dissolved (mixture should be free of grit when rubbed between two fingers). Simmer for 5 mins and remove from heat. Keep whisking almost continuously.
Let it come to room temperature. To do this quickly, I usually go into an air conditioned room with the fan on, and I place the bowl of thandai over an ice bath( larger bowl filled with ice and water) and whisk it quickly.
Once cool, whip up the remaining 100 ml of cream and gently fold it into the pannacotta.
Now pour over the strawberry coulis and chill for 2 hrs. Make sure the strawberry is set first or the layers will run into each others.
If you are making this well ahead of time, cover with foil tightly, and keep in fridge overnight.
While that's setting, make the mango coulis in a similar way as you made the strawberry coulis. Let it cool to room temperature. make sure the thandai layer is set, then gently spoon the mango on top. Wrap and freeze to set completely.
Remove when needed, taking it out 5 mins before serving time and garnish as per desire.