We Parsi folk love our sweets and desserts, and my maternal grand-mom whom I fondly called ‘Mamaiji’, was no exception to that rule.
As the matriarch of a very large and happy family, my ‘Mamaiji’ stood in a class of her own. She inspired all our lives with her strong compassionate personality and humorous take on events, her unconditional love for family and most of all, her true passion for cooking and food. Although no longer with us, Mamaiji’s legacy lives on through her valuable life lessons and her mouthwatering recipes.
With very few of the modern day kitchen conveniences that we take for granted at her disposal; she taught us that a truly good meal is always one that is made with love and patience using simple fresh ingredients…and savored with family & friends, sitting around the dinner table.
Showing little concern for calories, Mamaiji’s sweet tooth made sure one shelf in her refrigerator was well stocked with bowlfuls of this caramel pudding, varied custards and colorful jellies, while her pantry had a fun supply of my favorite homemade Parsi cookies ‘Bhakras’. Always young-at-heart, Mamaiji could skip dinner but never a dessert or sweet treat.
So the last recipe of 2012 is an ode to our ‘Mamaiji’ and her love for sweets, especially her comforting and simply delicious crème caramel style ‘Caramel Pudding’. Thanks to my mom and aunt who helped me get the measures and method right, this recipe is exactly how my ‘Mamaiji’ made Caramel Pudding in her trusty pressure cooker on the stovetop. I’ve also offered the option of cooking the pudding in a regular oven.
Bringing back happy memories of good times at our ancestral home ‘Marine Mansion’; here’s our recipe for Mamaiji’s Caramel Pudding.
Makes 6 small ramekins or 1 large mold serving 6-8 persons
4 ¼ cups or 1 liter whole fat or 2% reduced-fat milk
½ cup sugar
3 whole cardamoms, cracked open
3 eggs, mildly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the caramel
8-10 tablespoons sugar, melted in a pan
In a saucepan, bring the milk and whole cardamom to a boil. Reduce the flame to medium low, add sugar and let the milk simmer for 7-10 minutes. At this point, taste the milk for desired sweetness and pull out the cardamom shells. Let the milk cool while you make the caramel.
To make caramel, heat sugar on low heat in a pan till it starts melting. Always keep an eye on the sugar, since it burns fast. Once you achieve the golden brown color of caramel, pour it into individual ramekins or large mold. The caramel should coat the bottom of the molds in a thin layer.
Next, whisk mildly beaten eggs and vanilla essence into the cooled milk. Pour the milk and egg mixture over the caramel in the mold.
Mix ground cardamom and nutmeg in a small bowl and sprinkle the warm spices over the pudding.
To Cook in the pressure cooker:
Put the pudding mold on the pressure cooker rack (or use an inverted metal container.) Pour water to the base of the cooker. Once the pressure is reached, cook for 15 minutes. Turn off the pressure cooker and leave it standing till the steam reduces and the pudding cools.
To Cook in the Oven:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Put the pudding in a baking pan (preferably on a baking rack) and add two inches of water to the baking pan to aid steaming. Bake for 40-45 minutes till the pudding top is firm. The pudding top does not have to brown, check for doneness with a knife.
When the caramel pudding cools, refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours before serving. To serve, run a knife along the edge and unmold the caramel pudding by inverting onto a plate or serving platter.
Mamaiji’s Caramel Pudding is best served just as is…Alternatively it can be topped with vanilla whipped cream or fruit compote.
This recipe is also a part of my cookbook ‘Spice Up Your Celebration’ which offers Indian Inspired recipes for your occasions, holidays and entertaining. Click This Link for Details.
Using old Indian entertaining wisdom and today’s modern approach to food from a global perspective, my cookbook ‘Spice Up Your Celebration’ offers an easy to prepare collection of mouthwatering recipes that can be used for any occasion from intimate family and friends dinners, to hosting larger holiday celebrations.
As always, my dishes are inspired by India’s varied and flavorful smorgasbord of regional cuisines and made with everyday fresh ingredients, basic spices and simple step-wise directions.