This desert captures the purest essence of very Indian flavours in a delightfully new, vegan, and very healthy avatar.
“Badam Milk” or almond milk is a very popular beverage that’s enjoyed either steaming hot or chilled in many parts of the country, and especially so in my city of Bengaluru.
In this version, there is no dairy, instead the milk itself is made from soaked almonds, with a subtle hint of cardamom. Because it uses the most basic and minimal ingredients, the clean, fresh notes of saffron, as well as the delicate yet rich flavour of almonds shine through.
SAFFRON ALMOND PANNA COTTA
An easy, delicious and healthy dessert using almond milk with natural flavouring, set using agar.
- 1 cup almond milk thick, if possible (see note*)
- 1 large pinch saffron strands soaked in 1/8 cup warm water
- 1 1/2 teaspoon agar powder (see note**)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 Tablespoon palm candy powdered or similar sweetener (to taste)
- 2 pods cardamom lightly crushed (without releasing the seeds)
Heat the water in a small pan, and when boiling, turn down the heat.
Dissolve the agar powder in the water, till completely dissolved.
Mix in a teaspoon of this mixture along with 2 teaspoons of the powdered palm candy (or sweetener of choice) into the saffron water and pour into four dariole moulds, or a small, shallow tray or pan (the dessert can be cut into pieces after unmoulding).
This will actually set even at room temperature, but it could go into the fridge till soft set.
Meanwhile heat the almond milk along with the cardamom pods, and mix in the remaining candy powder and agar. Heat through till well mixed. Remove the cardamom pods and discard them.
Pout this steaming hot mixture gently into the moulds in which the saffron layer should now be set. Use a spoon to soften the impact of the stream pouring in. There will be a slight mixing in of layers which is desirable.
Place this into the fridge to set.
Once set, invert into serving dishes and serve with fresh fruit of choice
(I used custard apple and fig puree)
- *A half cup of soaked, blanched almonds whizzed with 1 cup of water and strained will yield the thick almond milk. The more usual ratio using 2 cups water instead is also fine.
- This is equally delicious without layering (which I did only because I love the flavour and colour of saffron just by itself! Plus, it looks great.). Just add the saffron water into the almond milk, along with the other ingredients agar, powdered sugar etc, and continue with step 4.
- ** One teaspoon of agar powder would approximately equal a 1/3 cup of agar strands roughly cut into inch long pieces. Or check the manufacturer's insructions. The quantity can be adjusted to personal preference, lesser for a softer set. (With caution, as more would tend to make it too rubbery.)
- I've not powdered the cardamom seeds in order to maintain the pure white colour of the almond milk. This is also the reason why i did not use jaggery as a sweetener. Boiling the whole pods in the milk will lend a nice subtle flavour which won't be as intense as the powdered version.
- The 10 minutes chilling time is optional because this dessert will actually set even without refrigeration. Or it can be chilled for an hour or two (or even longer) as desired.