Monday, November 23, 2009

Pink Panacotta

Gulkhand Pana Cotta

My husband craves for sweets after supper. Most Bengalis have a sweet tooth. His is a pronounced one. If we don’t have two types at least, he insists on going and buying some from the sweet shop just opposite our gate. Yes. Fortunately or unfortunately its right in front. In order to stave off some impulsive buys (not that I am complaining against impulsive purchases!), I try to have something ready at home. Not surprisingly, I stick to desserts which can be made in a jiffy.

So, panacotta is made quite frequently. A pack of gelatine, heavy cream, sugar and any seasonal fruit is all one needs! The variation is endless. The featured one was an inspiration that I had on purchasing a bottle of Gulkhand. Gulkhand is a not-too sweet rose petal preserve. I had bought it as an Ayurvedic tonic but THAT in fact increased its appeal. Now, I could tell myself that along with all that cream I am having something healthy!

I like my panacotta creamy though solid, so I have gone easy on the gelatine. I use Ru-af-Za, the rose-scented concentrate we use in cooling evening drinks to give both colour as well body. Ru-af-za contains a lot of sugar, so you can reduce the amount sugar to sweeten the panacotta.


Makes 6

3 tablespoon Gulkhand
3 teaspoon gelatine
570 ml heavy cream
100 ml milk
60 g sugar
3 teaspoon Ru-af-za

1 tablespoon rose-water


Soak gelantine in cold water for about 10 minutes. Dissolve the gelatine completely, then add the Ru-af-za.. Spread a thin layer of Gulkhand on the bottom of 6 buttered muffin tins. Combine the double cream and milk with the sugar and simmer for 10 minutes or until it dissolves. Mix the rest of the Gulkhand (about a tablespoon) with the milk-cream. Mix in the gelatine-Ru-af-za into the cream-milk mixture. Stir in the rosewater. Leave to cool.
Pour the panna cotta into the muffin tins when it has cooled down carefully so as not to distrub the layer on the bottom, then transfer to the refrigerator and leave to set for at least 3 hours.

To unmould, dip the muffin pan into a tray of hot water quickly and turn it upside down on a large plate.

In the Land of Coconut recipes

Though the restaurants in Fort Kochi area were largely disappointing, much of the time on this trip to Kerala we ate very well. On the day we ventured into Matancherry, we also hunted up Rahmatullah of Biryani fame. The place was absolutely no frills. The seating arrangements reminded me of the strictly utilitarian school benches and in terms of choice; well, we were offered Mutton Biryani or Chicken Biryani. We dutifully chose both. This was Biryani at its simplest. Very little oil, the very basic of whole garam masala spices and large chunks of meat to soothe one down. And awfully reasonably priced!
Breakfast was always at the homestays so we always began the mornings on a great note. Idiappams figured twice on our breakfast menu on this trip. Both time it was paired with egg curry, Malayali style. The Following Iddiappam recipe as I saw it done by Dai Kutty of GKRiverHomestay. Its simplicity itself. Iddiappams are by themselves bland and are great for absorbing any kind of flavours. These are best eaten warm.


2 and half cup rice flour
2 and half cups coconut milk
1 cup hot water
1 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon oil

3 Tablesppon, grated, fresh coconut
1 green chlli, very finely chopped

Idli steamer
Rice mouli

Bring the coconut milk and hot water to a boil. Sieve the rice flour and salt and mix. Pour the hot coconut milk mixture into the flour. As you pour, mix in the flour so that it brings the flour just together. It should be in-between a dough and a batter. The whole coconut milk mixture may not be necessary.
Mix the grated coconut and green chilli. Dai and her mother-in law oiled the mould and sprinkled a little bit of this chilli-coconut into the idli moulds. The rice mouli they had was beautiful piece of brass. A small container with a sieve and another solid piece with handles on both sides to press the dough. You fill up the container with the sieve with the batter and press down the solid piece which fits into it. The rice noodles which come out are put straight onto the idli mould. Once they are filled, the moulds are closed and placed into the steamer. 10 to 15 minutes of cooking should be more than sufficient. Take off from the steamers. Dai used a large metal spatula to unmould.