"The rose, wherein the world divine makes itself flesh." -Dante
Shrikhand is a popular dessert in western India, an aromatic yogurt mousse. It requires quite a bit of preparation, so it's a real labour of self-love. The combination of rosewater and saffron is delicious, like eating perfume (especially if you increase the quantities of rose.) Honestly—when I have this, I feel like a Mughal princess, reclined on the ottoman with a Very Lovely Book.
Ingredients (serves 4):
4 cups full-fat yogurt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons rose water
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds
chopped up pistachios/almonds
Line a bowl with a muslin/cheesecloth, with the edges hanging over it. Pour in yogurt. Gather the edges of the cloth and tie in a knot. Hang over bowl to drain whey. (Alternatively, put a finely meshed sieve over the bowl and pour yogurt into that. Press and stir with a large spoon, then leave to drain).
After 5 hours the liquid will have strained through enough that the yogurt in the muslin cloth will be thick and creamy. (Perfectionists like to leave it overnight). Whip in a bowl to make it fluffier and velvety. Add rosewater.
Grind sugar, cardamom seeds, and saffron into powder. (I like to add half a teaspoon of coffee powder as well, since it adds an interesting dimension to the shrikhand’s fragrance). Mix this into the yogurt mousse. Whip as long as it takes for a smooth, luscious texture--the key to a good shrikhand.
Empty shrikhand into serving bowl. Refrigerate for an hour or so.
Top it off with a garnishing of slivered almonds and pistachios.
Blend 10 strawberries and a spoonful of honey into syrup. Add this to the shrikhand. Stir until the shrikhand blushes tender pink. Top with edible silver foil, pistachio slivers, and perhaps a sprinkling of rose petals from the garden. Alternatively, try a simple topping of red raspberries. It is undeniably decadent. You could you have this with a glass of Rooh-Afza to continue the colour theme.
Cut 1 mango into pieces, scoop out of skin, and mash with a fork. Blend into shrikhand. Voila! You have created amrakhand, a variation on the recipe. It tastes fuller & more complete than the pared-down shrikhand.
Golden raisins or Barhi dates (seeds removed) can be stirred into the shrikhand for some extra sweetness.