Chocolate shrikhand, almond pooris, and an answer to the baffling battiness…

June 7, 2007 at 4:44 AM (almonds, chiroli, chocolate, dishes by cuisine, dishes by main ingredient, fusion, grains and grain-like, Gujerati, India, Maharashtra, Mexico, milk and milk products, seeds, singhara, sugars-sweets, various nuts like me, wheat, yoghurt)

    Some of my food-blogging friends and I have had discussions of yoghurt-cheeses and their appearance in several cuisines, including America’s- where cream cheese/Philadelphia cheese and “neufchatel” (though this does not resemble the true French cheese of the same name) are made in a very similar way… It is delectable when paired with fruit- there is no debate of that- but the “chocoholic” in me is continually searching for new ways to express itself, and I am certain that in no way could I be the first to dream up this concoction…

    Chocolate, as a bitter drink, was well-known and used by the Aztecs back to antiquity, as was vanilla. The conquering Spaniards combined this with their passion for cinnamon-flavoured sweets (an assertion of the Moorish influence and Arab trade with India) and milk. It is not difficult to see how Mexican-style chocolate was born, and indeed, all other chocolate confections “born” afterward…

    In this recipe, I have combined chocolate with a touch of vanilla, and the familiar combination of cardamom and cinnamon- prevalent in Indian coffee and tea preparations- with the milk-become-yoghurt-become-chatta sweet known as shrikhand in Gujju and Marathi -cinnamon being the tie that binds the hands across the world to create this delectable fusion. Mexican drinking chocolate often contains ground almonds as well, so… an appropriate accompaniment, to my mind,  had to be freshly-fried almond pooris; I make a final bow to shrikhand’s origin by gracing the chocolate shrikhand with roasted chiroli-nuts…

Resist if you must!

 

I extend a big thank you to Madhuli of My Foodcourt for her assistance in helping me name the chocolate shrikhand. 

Chocolate Shrikhand with Almond Pooris

Chocolate Shrikhand

(4 servings) 

4 C yoghurt (I used homemade 3%, but any richness may be used)

1/3 C sugar, more or less to taste (I used raw cane/ turbinado)

1 oz bittersweet chocolate

1/4 t ground true/Ceylon/soft cinnamon

the seeds of two cardamom pods, ground

1/2 t pure vanilla extract

1 T chiroli-nuts

1)Tie the yoghurt in a double-thickness of cheesecloth and suspend it somewhere, with a bowl underneath, to drain most of the whey for at least 3 hours;  some, like me, prefer the texture be a little thicker and therefore let it hang longer 5, 8, 10 hours… I leave it up to you. This plain cheese is called chakka.

2)Empty the contents into a bowl, and add the sugar, mixing well. Allow it to stand for an hour or more to dissolve the sugar, then pass this mixture through a wire sieve for maximum smoothness.

3)Melt the chocolate in a small, metal dish over hot water, or use the microwave (keep a close eye on it to avoid scorching). Take a spoonful of the sweet-chakka and mix it with the chocolate, add this to the bowl. Take another spoonful and mix it with any chocolate that still clings and again add. Mix the chocolate with the sweet-chakka thoroughly. Taste for sweetness and adjust if necessary.

4)Add the final flavouring of ground spices and vanilla; combine well.

5)Chill this mixture well for at least an hour to allow the flavour of the spices to marry with the others.

6)Heat a little ghee/oil in a small pan and fry, stirring continuously, the chiroli, until lightly roasted (mine are a bit too dark) and fragrant. Remove to a cloth or paper towel to absorb excess oil and cool.

7)Serve the chocolate shrikhand in small bowls, sprinkled with chiroli, and freshly-made almond pooris (below) on the side.

Almond Pooris

2/3 C Ata (Indian whole-wheat flour) plus more for dusting

1/3 C ground raw almonds

tiny pinch of salt

water

oil for deep-frying

1)Mix the flour, almond-meal, and salt together well, then add enough enough water to form a soft, yet workable dough. Knead for 10 minutes, replace it to the bowl and cover with a damp towel to rest for an hour or so. (or place in a plastic bag)

2)Heat the oil over a medium-low flame. Divide the dough into into 8 equal portions, and taking each, roll into an ball and flatten into a patty, with your hand, onto a floured board. Sprinkle some more flour over the top and roll thinly into a 5″ round. Set each on a plate, overlapping the next, and keep covered with a damp dish-towel. Take each poori and gently set it on the surface of the hot oil (hold it with both hands loosely and rest the center, then release the sides. (if it sinks, the oil is not hot enough). Fry for a second or two, and using a pair of tongs or other utensil, push the edges gently under the oil until the top surface changes colour; it should puff up. Turn to the other side, fry until golden, turn back to the other side for a few seconds. Lift out the poori and place in a cloth or paper-lined bowl, leaning against the side to allow excess oil to drain and cover with a lid. Serve immediately.

Makes 8

NOTE: An Umrikan acquaintance just tasted this; although the pooris are now stale and should have been re-fried, still, she didn’t find it sweet enough…..so perhaps you may add more sugar than I did to the shrikhand, or shake sugar over the pooris as they come out of the oil…..I found the light sweetness quite refreshing however…and the whole crispy-soft combo addictive. Anyone who makes this, feel free to give me your input…

    And what about those black, bat-like creatures? A nut! Known in Hindi as singhara, in Bengali as paniphal, in Sinhalese as ikiliya, in Chinese as ling or ling jiao, in German as singharanuss, in French as chataigne d’eau a deux cornes, in Japanese as hishi or tou bishi, in Nepalese as singadaa, and in English as water caltrop, bull-nut or singhara-nut; the latin botanical name is trapa bicornis, although other species of the genus are similar and are also known by these names. Hard to believe it’s vegetable eh? Nature is more fascinating than fiction…

    The winners? Well… Richa (As Dear as Salt), Anita (a Mad Tea Party) and Linda (Out of the Garden)answered correctly the name of the nut. Congratulations! But, there is a hidden code in the exclamation marks in the title of the post. The marks follow what is known as the Fibonacci sequence.  Each member of the sequence is formed by adding the two preceding it. And, also, each adjacent pair, as the sequence continues, approaches a particular relationship known as the golden ratio or divine proportion…this fascinating number is represented by the greek letter, phi; it appears all over nature- in the path of Venus across the heavens, in plants, animals- even in the human body! Using the measurement from our feet to the top of our heads, the golden ratio appears at our navel; also the wrist is at this marking point between our elbows and tips of our fingers…the list goes on! The Fibonacci sequence itself appears in nature as well. Good example? The spiral pattern of gobhi/cauliflower and the seeds at the center of sunflowers follows two such interlocking sequences. Also strands of DNA appear to form this pattern as well…

    So, who noticed this cryptic code in the title? Two people…. The Cooker, and Anita (a Mad Tea Party)….great job both of you!!!

Obviously there is only one common element in both sets, and that is Anita… 

Congratulations and a serious sashtaang pranam.. [bends down and touches her feet]

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19 Comments

  1. Asha said,

    Almond Poories are very interesting! I made a Pie with yogurt at Aroma and it tasted like baked Shrikhand!!:))

    Oooooooooh… that sounds truly yum! Where would I find the recipe? There is an Italian pastry/pie that this makes me think of…called torta della nonna (grandma’s pie?) which is a baked custard (milk and eggs) with whole-wheat berries…and also, the French make a simple yoghurt cake! All this fussing when yoghurt is already delicious just plain…

  2. Anita said,

    Oh, well! Whatever!
    It’s not a race, you know. [does the very American elbow jerking action while saying a silent ‘Yes!’]
    But, since I won, do I get another recipe request? 😀
    And, wow, you did the ultimate pairing of shrikhand with poori, and yet with a definite western take – vanilla being a very non-Indian spice. But I can imagine it marrying well with chocolate and the chakka – why not? it will take everyone by surprise when I attempt this combination. I bow in return 🙂
    The traditional shrikhand really improves in flavour as it sits longer; I always chill it for over 24 hours before serving.
    Isn’t it amazing to see so much structure in what appears to be random in nature? We can only unravel a little of some of these mysteries and wonder. Life itself is such a miracle of nature!

    And I have a feeling that we will be hearing more about “it” as time passes…just a hunch… 🙂

    You know what Anita? Many of the “chais” available here, though containing cardamom and cassia, often also contain vanilla, just for that extra push to appeal to American taste… we’re so used to having it in most sweets. But honestly, the Aztecs always combined it with their chocolate, so this is nothing new. What is a pity is the loss of most of their recipes of haute cuisine…and the libraries of the Mayans…but that’s another story.

    Again, nice job!

  3. bee said,

    hiding correct answers is unethical. comments are part of the post. 😀

    Oh yes, that’s right! 🙂

  4. sia said,

    i felt like i was reading one of dan brown’s novel 😉 LOL… cant belive its some nuts… very unique and of course a little peculiar 😉 was waiting for this post
    and now coming to almond pooris and choco srikhand…well what can i say? very innovative and interesting dish…love srikhand so will give it a twist next time 🙂

    Right you are- the Fibonacci Sequence and Divine Proportion figure heavily in the novel, though I had read about it while studying architecture in an art class years back. Feel free to try this dish… it’s yum for your tum! 🙂

  5. Linda said,

    The shrikhand and pooris look delish, but I thought you were going to cook up something with the bat nuts! Good game 🙂

    I would if I could dearie, but they were devoured yeeeeeeeeeeeeeears ago… and I have not seen them for sale since. Yes, it was a good game! I hope you join in next time too!

  6. TheCooker said,

    Anita gets to request a recipe and the rest of us can expect something in the mail? Doesn’t have to be saffron, you know.
    Once upon a time, long long ago, I mixed plain shrikhanda (without the cardamon-saffron) with a few leaves of basil and let it chill overnight. It was good!!

    I have tried a few basil-laced sweets; at first it struck me as odd, but apparantly the people of Cyprus have this habit… something in the mail eh? Hmmmm…let me ponder that for a few days…

  7. sharmi said,

    Almond puris sound very rich and nice. and a big thanks for telling about those singharas. frankly speaking I started getting answers to them in my dreams. when I was in school and could not solve my Maths problems, I used to get their answers in my dreams. 🙂

    Hmmmm…could you ask your dreams to give me the next winning Wisconsin lottery numbers? 😀

  8. Cynthia said,

    Resist?! Are you kidding! I am having it all.
    You, you, you! golden ratio and talk of Fibonacci code and all! There is a reason why some of us are Communication and not Math majors! (lol)

    Oh, but these numbers relate closely to beauty… Our eyes are located at the divine proportion on our faces! The closer or further it is to “right on”, is one of the determining factors of how beautiful most people would percieve us to be! Of course, inner beauty cannot be measured in this way….or can it?

  9. Linda said,

    Hmm.. dunno where my first comment went — but was saying, the shrikand and pooris look delish — but thought you were gonna cook up some of those bat nuts! 😉
    Good game 🙂

    Dem dere pooris and yoghurt stuff is real goot dere hey….yah! I’d like to cook up dose dere nuts, but dey’s been et long time back dere…

  10. Manisha said,

    Sigh! Everything went bouncer – boing on my head and off it.
    Didn’t see the Fibonacci seq in the exclamation marks – I was just proud that they didn’t bother me. You know?!!!! Like that?!!!!!!!
    But I do have a picture of the Fibonacci sequence in nature
    Back to the grindstone. Sigh.
    <em>Ah!!! Gorgeous photo!! I was praying it wouldn’t be a turd… you still working that plate thing are ya? 😉 Awwwwwww……. :-D</em>

  11. madhuli said,

    Hmm..now I have the recipe too!It sure looks delicious.Almond puris look interesting..have to try this!thanks Pel

    And thank you very much for the tip on naming this! I appreciate it greatly!

  12. Roopa said,

    wow i missed the FB series? coming to the recipe unique flavours of both choclate and almonds in Shrikand and puris gives a divine taste. Will give this a try !

    Do try! Sorry that you missed it… next time!

  13. santhi said,

    ummm..who would have thought that you’d actually tease our brains with Fibonacci series….!!!!! ????? well well…impressive 😉 and great recipes too

    And I recall that you noticed there was some kind of order going on… Thanks!

  14. Manisha said,

    So why is my link unlinked and the HTML laid bare? You do some funky stuff when you edit comments! All the line breaks disappear, too!

  15. Anita said,

    I think WordPress is having some problem – when we open to edit a comment – any html just gets de-linked/exposed. Must write them…
    I’ve been having problems too with that…so I retype everything, and then the missing stuff comes back…in fact, I had problems with writing this post too with the editor… it seems to be changing the angle-bracket things into other things

  16. elaichietcetera said,

    it changes them into &lt

    Their support is closed for the weekend…gay pride week here! I’m too poor to go to Milwaukee this year.. 😦

  17. Manisha said,

    WordPress problems? No! Neener-neener-nya-nya!

    [spits out his tongue and places his thumbs at his ears and waves] Oh yeah? Well, we can edit comments…

  18. Anita said,

    Yeah, that’s right. WordPress problems! Unheard of. Unlike with Blogger, where everyone has to get used to it! 😆

    So, easy with those links till then…

  19. Manisha said,

    Basic point is this: you get what you pay for. Whether Blogger or WordPress.

    Gin, vodka or tequila too!

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