Looking to freshen the palate- calm the heat and feel sweetly satisfied after a spicy feast? Sticky Toffee Pudding won’t cut the mustard (seeds!), so let’s take a look at some well matched desserts to compliment a curry dish.
In India they love very sweet desserts and whilst some of them I like, I do on the whole find them rather too sweet, but…
Contrary to what naysayers may think curry and cake can be a satisfying pair, Gajar ka Halwa’ often flavoured with ghee and cardamom is a delicious Indian carrot cake, working brilliantly with a scoop of delicately spiced homemade cinnamon or quality vanilla ice cream- we recently tried a superb take on Gajar Ka Halwa at Zindiya in Moseley, Birmingham,where they serve it with Chai Kulfi. Their dessert is, they told me a slightly adapted version from the traditional and clearly made with a lot of care and love. Here’s another popular one to try by Felicity Cloake How to Cook The Perfect Carrot Halwa
I’m also a big fan of Kulfi, eaten in India since the 16th Century to keep the blazing heat at bay, it was originally flavoured with pistachio and saffron and garnished with nuts.. All too often in your High Street Indian restaurant it's presented straight from the freezer in a plastic cone, with a reassuring bullet proof hardness! Kulfi takes longer to melt than a Mr Whippy due to it's density so hang in there! Once left to room temperature a Pistachio Kulfi is hard to beat for the sophisticated nutty flavour with a hint of spice - a delicate green hue is ice cream magic. The BBC have a delectable recipe for Pistachio and Rose Water Kulfi, which if you’re preparing a romantic meal, seems like a well considered dessert choice to get your partner melting with cool pleasure….
If the idea of anything more than fruit is just too much to bare…then a delicious and easy way to serve the national fruit of India ‘Mango’ – is simply to peel and slice- ideally alphonso mangoes (these have the creamiest flesh, yellow in skin colour and in my opinion a superior flavour) They must be nicely ripe, squeeze the juice of a fresh lime all over and voila! You can make a little more effort if you feel inclined and create a fruit platter by including pineapple with finely chopped mint and the rare fruit ‘Chickoo’ You may only find Chickoo in specialist food shops, but the small round fruit with its unique flavour works well in a fruit salad and topped off with coconut shavings and pomegranate seeds you can almost smell the sea breeze of a Goan beach as you munch away.
An all time favorite in my family and something I consider equivalent to coffee and a truffle post dinner is Chocolate Barfi. Growing up in Birmingham close to the Balti Triangle, Balti was a weekly event and we’d frequent ‘The Royal Naim’ where they had a local Pakistani lady make their chocolate Barfi and boy oh boy was it good! Dry, too sweet Barfi with chocolate ‘flavouring’ has no place at my table- it has to be real chocolate, lots of and it HAS to be Buffalo milk Barfi! Buffalo milk is used much more in India and you’ll struggle to find authentic Barfi in the UK made this way- apparently there is a place on Brick Lane, if you fancy a pilgrimage? The Barfi of the ‘Royal Naim’ had a thick coating of what was reputedly ‘Belgian chocolate’ in the 90’s, for a 10year old anyway, this was rather decadent indeed. I’d share half a Barfi slice with my mum and she’d have a cream topped coffee…retro vibes. Cream coffee (make it Irish!) and Barfi is probably still my dessert of choice after a curry…and for a balti it’s a nod to its fusion roots! Here’s a recipe by 'Good Gastronomy' (sadly not with Buffalo milk which is a tad impractical for the home-cook!) Chocolate Barfi
Finally, if carrot cake is too heavy, fruit too light and chocolate fudge isn’t your thing then my other ‘go to’ would be an exotic crème brulee. A stand out Indian dessert memory for me was at ‘Indian Summer’ in Brighton, where they make the most awesome Mango Crème Brulee. You can find similar recipes online- but I would hazard a guess they use that all-important Alphonso mango. Any Crème Brulee with exotic flavours like coconut or passion fruit would work well. Here’s a recipe for Lime Leaf Crème Brulee by Manu’s Menu.
Enjoy and do tweet me any photos or suggestions @baltibowl