The golden favourite

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Gujarat is awash with sweet shops, displaying beautiful arrangements of yellow and white sweetmeats, many made with reduced milk, flavoured with saffron and cardamom. As the finale to almost every meal we were offered the yogurt-based shrikhand, a Gujarati speciality that is more of a dessert. Scattered with pomegranate seeds and pistachios, Mrs Nanavati’s shrikhand was light and soothing, and not too sweet. I was determined to create my own version; by adding soft white cheese I was able to avoid the usual first step of draining the yogurt through muslin for several hours. It tastes lovely.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons whole milk
  • 4 generous pinches of saffron strands
  • seeds from 4-5 cardamom pods
  • 250 g full-fat soft cheese
  • 350 g Greek style yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons icing sugar
  • 3 rounded tablespoons pomegranate seeds
  • 4 rounded teaspoons nibbed or chopped pistachio nuts

Method

Put the milk and saffron in a small pan and bring just to the boil. Stir to distribute the saffron, remove from the heat and leave on one side. Crush the cardamom seeds, using a pestle and mortar.

Put the soft cheese into a bowl, add the yogurt and stir to mix roughly together. Sift in the icing sugar and sprinkle in the ground cardamom. Whisk the mixture thoroughly until very smooth, then gradually whisk in the cooled saffron milk.

Spoon the mixture into 4 small glass bowls and chill in the fridge for an hour or more. You can keep the dessert in the fridge for several hours or until the next day.

Before serving, straight from the fridge, sprinkle the pomegranate seeds and chopped pistachios over each serving.

The next morning, when I woke to the sounds of birds and animals in the forest, and the sun making patterns through the curtains, I realised that it is only when I travel that I start the day with the same feeling of simple excitement that I used to get as a child, my head clear of any mundane worries or responsibilities. To me it is more rejuvenating than anything else, and I hope I can experience a wide variety of places, food, people and surprises for many more years.