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Shrikhand - An Indian Dessert Recipe In Fig, Mango And Pineapple Flavors
Shrikhand - An Indian Dessert Recipe In Fig, Mango And Pineapple Flavors
Shrikhand is easy to prepare Indian dessert, made from strained yogurt. This mouth melting Indian custard can be served as a side dish with bread, as a sweet dish along with the Thali ( an Indian platter consisting of seasonal vegetables, lentils, rice, bread, salad, and yogurt) in western parts of India, or as a dessert. The word shrikhand is derived from the Sanskrit language, and literally means, "Ambrosia or Food of the Gods". Its method of preparation is simple, but time-consuming and requires patience. Yogurt is tied in a clean muslin or cotton cloth, and left under pressure or hung from a wall, for whey to separate out. The milk solids of this hung curd are then mixed with sugar, saffron, cardamom, and nutmeg. Different fruit flavors are added to enhance the taste, as a modern variation to this traditional recipe.
Shrikhand and the Indian Festival of Janmashtami
Shrikhand is a semi-solid whole milk product, with a smooth, rich and uniform texture, and a sweet-sour taste. It is a popular sweet dish served during the Indian festival of Janmashtami, that marks the birth of Indian deity, Lord Krishna. "Dahi Handi" event, in which young men climb on each others' shoulders, and form human towers to reach a high-hanging pot of white butter, and break it, forms an integral part of the festivities. Devotees fast throughout the day, gather in temples, sing devotional songs and perform "Raslila", a dance drama to depict instances from the youth of Krishna. Celebrations continue until midnight, the time when Krishna is believed to have been born. Since Lord Krishna had a special liking for milk and milk products, hence, all the festival recipes are made from milk and yogurt.
Strained yogurt consists of milk solids, has a good amount of carbohydrates to provide instant energy and is loaded with easy to digest proteins. It is a natural source of minerals, such as Calcium, and Phosphorus, that are necessary to build strong bones. It is a natural probiotic, that contains loads of gut-friendly bacteria, the Lactobacillus species, and B-complex vitamins. It is a good source of vitamin-B12 for vegetarians, a vitamin found in milk and milk products, eggs, and meat, that is necessary for proper functioning of nerves. Added fruits increase the nutritional value of Shrikhand.
Dried figs are high in dietary fiber. They are natural laxatives that nourish and tone the intestines. Being the fruit of Ficus tree, figs are delicate and perishable. So they are dried and preserved. They contain good amounts of minerals Manganese and Calcium, necessary for strong bones, and Potassium to regulate blood pressure. They also contain various phytochemicals and polyphenols, that have antiaging benefits.
Mango is a storehouse of vitamin-C, folic acid, minerals, and antioxidants, and has, therefore, been aptly labeled as, "the King of Fruits." It is the national fruit of India, Pakistan, and the Philippines. Mangoes are offered to the Gods, have been praised by poets, and have a special importance in weddings and religious ceremonies. This humble yellow-orange fruit can satisfy the sweet tooth of a common man. Botanically mango belongs to the cashew family. Every 100 gms of the ripe fruit provide 60 kcal of energy. It contains significant amounts of vitamin-C and folic acid, that confer upon it, the immunity boosting and antioxidant properties. The flesh is juicy, with soft fibrils rich in dietary fiber. It contains the phytochemical mangiferin, that has gastroprotective effects. It repairs and protects the inner lining of stomach and intestines, that get damaged by toxins present in our food. It is an excellent source of vitamin-A. Mango peel is believed to contain the plant nutrients, alpha and beta-carotene, lutein, and cryptoxanthin. Recent studies indicate that regular consumption of mangoes can prevent various cancers, including cancer breast, colon, leukemia or blood cancer, and cancer prostate.
A word of caution: Individuals on Warfarin therapy and other blood-thinning medications should refrain from eating mangoes, as the vitamin-A present in this fruit potentiates the effects of Warfarin, and can cause hemorrhage and internal bleeds. Mangoes can also cause skin allergy in sensitized individuals. The allergic reaction begins as itching around the mouth, lips, and tip of the tongue. It is caused due to anacardic acid found in mango flesh and rind. People known to be allergic to mangoes, cashew nuts, pistachios, and other members of the plant family Anacardiaceae, should avoid the intake of mangoes.
Pineapple is a perennial, tropical compound fruit, with small fruit lets fused together. It is indigenous to South America, now available worldwide. Pineapple chunks are used to make desserts, fruit salads, juices, and jams. Inside of the fruit is juicy, fleshy, and has a mixture of sweet and tart taste. It ranks low on the calorie counter, every 100 gms of this fruit contains 50 calories, with zero saturated fat. It contains both soluble and insoluble fiber, and is an excellent source of vitamin-C, that helps improve body immunity, has anti-aging effects, and stimulates the synthesis of collagen protein necessary for maintaining the integrity of blood vessels and skin, and wrinkle reduction. Folic acid present in this fruit helps combat anemia, Manganese is necessary for a healthy skeletal system, Copper stimulates red blood cell production, and Potassium lowers high blood pressure. Pineapple also contains a protein-digesting enzyme bromelain. This interferes with the preparation of foods, such as jellies and desserts, if not inactivated by cooking or canning prior to making the dessert. Bromelain has blood thinning, anti-inflammatory and digestant properties. Regular intake of pineapple can help cure worm infestations, arthritis, and indigestion.
Be careful before having Pineapple!
Pineapple consumption should be avoided during pregnancy (it can induce an abortion); in individuals known to be allergic to it; and by those on blood thinning medications.
Honey is a natural sweetener, that is a mixture of simple sugars fructose and glucose. It helps treat digestive disorders, ulcers, and wounds.
Shrikhand is a simple, but time consuming recipe
- 500 ml plain yogurt, homemade
- 3/4 cup fruit, (dried figs/mango/pineapple)
- 4 tablespoons castor sugar or powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon mixed nuts, chopped
- 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg powder
Fruit Shrikhand Recipe
- To prepare, take a large piece of muslin or cheesecloth, and pour the yogurt in it. Tie the cloth to make a bag, and either, place it under a stone slab or hang it from the wall in a cool corner of your kitchen. Place a bowl underneath, to collect whey that trickles down. It would take around 4 hours for entire whey to drain out. Now keep the muslin bag as such in a bowl, and refrigerate for 10-20 minutes.
- Now put this hung curd or yogurt in a blender, along with 1/2 cup cooked fruit chunks (figs/mango/pineapple), half of the cardamom powder, castor sugar, grated nutmeg, and honey. Blend this mixture, until small bits of fruit remain in it. Depending on your taste, you can reduce the amount of sugar required If you use Greek yogurt, then you need not drain the whey, and can use it as such. Around 250 ml of Greek yogurt would be required, with other ingredients remaining the same.
- Transfer the prepared mixture in a serving bowl. Garnish with chopped fresh fruit, nuts and cardamom powder. Serve chilled.
Figs In Shrikhand
Cook the fruit to add more flavor
If you use the fruit chunks as such, then it gives a bitter tart taste to the dessert. Thus, slight modifications are required, depending on the flavor of your choice.
- If you use dried figs, soak half a cup in warm water for around half an hour, to soften them. The remaining can be used as such for the garnish.
- In case you opt for mango or pineapple flavor, cook half a cup of fruit chunks in sugar syrup for 3-5 minutes. Allow it to cool, then drain off the syrup and use the cooked fruit chunks. You can even use canned or tinned fruit. Fresh chunks can be used for garnish.
To make the sugar syrup:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Combine sugar and water together in a small saucepan. Bring it to boil. Add half teaspoon milk to it. The impurities present in sugar will combine with milk, to form a dirty grey layer on the surface, that can be removed.
- Cook this syrup on a medium flame for 3-5 minutes. Add fruit chunks (mango.pineapple) and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Allow it to cool. Drain off the sugar syrup, and use the cooked fruit for your recipe.