Palace Pudding

Keşkül

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This Gluten-free summer favourite is one of the oldest Ottoman recipes, derived from a dish called Keşkül-ü Fukara (‘begging bowl’), which was generously served to the populace by the sultans to celebrate war victories, religious holidays and other significant occasions.

The word keşkül means a bowl made out of a coconut half shell, which the dervish monks would wear around their necks in the hope people might throw in donations (which would have been difficult if they were whirling dervishes). Nowadays, the poor don’t need to go to the palace—they can find versions of keşkül in pudding shops across Istanbul.

There are several traditional variations—some using only almonds, some using coconut flakes. I like crushed pistachios to give a bright green colour and a crunchy texture.

Ingredients

  • 40 g ( oz) blanched almonds
  • 40 g ( oz) pistachio kernels
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) milk
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) pouring (whipping) cream
  • 100 g ( oz) sugar
  • 25 g (1 oz) cornflour (cornstarch)
  • pashmak (Persian fairy floss) and pomegranate seeds, to decorate (optional)

Method

Put the almonds in a food processor and pulse finely. Pulse the pistachios separately.

Put the milk and cream in a saucepan and mix. Heat over medium heat, then add the sugar. Cook for 2 minutes, then whisk in the almond meal. Continue to whisk for 2 minutes, then scoop out 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) of the mixture into a bowl. Whisk the cornflour into the bowl, and then slowly add to the cooking mixture, whisking constantly.

Continue to whisk, and bring to the boil. Add the pistachios, reduce the heat and simmer for 3 minutes, whisking. When the mixture starts to thicken, remove from the heat and leave to cool to room temperature.

Divide the keşkül mixture into four bowls or cups. Refrigerate for 3 hours to set. Remove from the fridge, decorate with pashmak and pomegranate seeds, if you like, and serve.