In my experience when writing a regular food blog, often two disparate food-related events culminate in a new recipe or a twist on a memorable flavor. This time around, it was a case of overripe mangoes in addition to excess yogurt from experiments with a starter culture. Combining these two ingredients brought back memories from my childhood in Bombay of a wholesome, custardy dessert – shrikhand.
Shrikhand (pronounced shreek-ind), from the western states of India, combines the velvety richness of thickened yogurt with hints of warm floral notes from saffron and cardamom and a crunchy finish of pistachio nuts. Similar to ricotta, the creamy strained yogurt also complements pureed fruits, which gave me the idea to pair it with mango. When I was young, my father would bring home a small box of freshly-churned shrikhand made at a roadside stall. This unpretentious shop was exactly what today’s gourmet hopes to find, tucked in a market selling everything from vegetables to plumbing equipment. At that time, shrikhand was expensive as the ingredients were all top quality; which is why we only ever received a small box! Making shrikhand at home was much easier than I had expected, and perfectly recaptured the taste of my memory. The silky, thick consistency of the strained yogurt pairs well with mango’s natural sweetness.
Yogurt (32 oz) – 1
Mango – 1, peeled and pureed
Superfine sugar – 2 tbsp + more if needed
Saffron strands – 3-4
Milk – 1 tbsp
Cardamom powder – ½- ¾ tsp
Pistachio nuts – 10, lightly crushed
Cheesecloth or muslin
- Strain the yogurt through a cheesecloth. Tie the ends of the cheesecloth together to form a bag. Suspend the bag high over a bowl, such that the whey liquid can drain out without touching the bag.
- Peel, slice, and puree the mango. Put the mango pulp in a colander, to drain any excess juice.
- Warm the milk for 10 seconds, and add the saffron strands. The milk should turn a warm yellow color in about 5-7 minutes.
- Combine the strained yogurt, mango, sugar, saffron milk, and cardamom powder. Whip them together with a fork or whisk, until smoothly combined.
- Divide and serve in small, individual ramekin- sized bowls.
- Garnish with a few pistachio pieces.
Note: Use the best quality saffron and cardamom that you can get, as these flavors are subtle. Try the original shrikhand recipe (which uses no fruit) if you don’t have mangoes, adjusting sugar according to your taste.