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Rustle up mango magic at home

Rustle up mango magic at home

MANGO KUNAFA



Pushpesh Pant

THE first mangoes of the season are in the market and one is tempted to indulge in them in as many ways as one can. True, the best mangoes are well worth waiting for, the hapus, deshahri and langra, not to forget safeda and chausa, the rasaul and the rest. But let us not digress. Mangoes are not like Darjeeling tea, where the first flush is valued, and are best enjoyed in other delicacies, desserts and beverages. This realisation dawned when we talked of a most satisfying novo-Indian vegetarian meal at Sattvik in Select City Walk Mall in the capital. Chef Nishant Choubey was doing a pop-up. With his usual flare, he treated us to a mango kunafa.

Kunafa, as we all know, is famous the world over as the queen of Arabian desserts. It combines thin strands of the kunafa dough, painstakingly shredded with hands, cream cheese, thickened milk enriched with nuts, aromatised with cardamom and garnered with powdered pistachio. For some, it is too sweet, but then the sweetness of the syrup that it is drenched in can always be adjusted. The twist here was that Nishant had filled up the kunafa with a layer of mango puree, which added just the right touch of tartness.

Aah! The presence of the first mango of the season was registered unobtrusively. Another tweak was that instead of kunafa dough, which is hard to obtain, he had used sevian. Quite common in India, it added a delightful touch of familiarity and transformed the Arabian dessert into something swadeshi.

All this should not give you the impression that you cannot rustle up a mango kunafa at home. Truth be told, you can make a kunafa even if you don’t have an oven. The Arabs like to bake it, but let us not forget, we are Indians and we seldom bake our desserts. Unless, it is a chenna puda or bhappe doi. There are shortcuts one can take without compromising on the quality of the final product by making cream cheese at home. The only care you have to take is to roast the sevian carefully, in ghee or butter, crumble up meticulously and pack the layers pressing delicately with a potato masher. The kunafa can be done to perfection even on a pan, if you take care while turning it over.

MANGO KUNAFA

INGREDIENTS

Sevian/fenian (thin vermicelli) 200 g

Milk 250 ml

Sugar 2 tbsp

Cornflour 2 tbsp

Cheese slices 4-5

Mango puree 200 ml

Pistachio (powdered) 1/4 cup

Cardamom (crushed) 3-4

Butter/ghee 30 mg

Sugar (for making syrup) 1 cup

A few strands of saffron Optional

METHOD

1 Prepare the syrup by dissolving sugar in a cup of water on high heat. Squeeze 1 tsp of lemon juice to avoid the caramelisation of sugar, stirring constantly till it dissolves completely. Add cardamom while boiling. Remove from heat.

2 Take a pan and melt butter in it. Crumble the sevian with hands and put in the pan. Stir and roast till these release a pleasant aroma and change colour to light brown. Do not overcook. Remove from flame and allow to cool.

3 Take a saucepan and pour milk in it. Add cornflour. Whisk well so that no lumps are formed. Add sugar. Bring to boil. Add cheese slices and keep cooking on low medium flame, stirring constantly. Remove from flame when it has blended well and has acquired custard-like consistency.

4 Take a non-stick frying pan. Line it with a thin film of butter and make a bed of half of the fried sevian, packing them tight and gently pressing to level the surface.

5 Pour the thickened milk blended with cheese evenly all over the surface. Similarly, follow with mango puree.

6 Next, spread the reserved sevian to form the top layer and press it to have an evenly levelled top. Pour sugar syrup all over.

7 Cook on low heat for eight to 10 minutes, covered with a larger-sized pan.

8 Carefully flip over, holding both the frying pans tight and continue cooking for another eight to 10 minutes to ensure even ‘baking’.

9 Remove from flame, and allow it to cool for 15 minutes.

10 Garnish with powdered pistachio. Drizzle more syrup, if you like. Serve with a dollop of clotted cream, and maybe a scoop of ice-cream.


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