Imperial sweet tooth

Who says you can’t make a delicious dessert out practically nothing. You needn’t be running to the supermarket to shop for fancy ingredients or flipping pages of a master chef’s recipe book ev

Published: 19th June 2011 12:41 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 09:13 PM   |  A+A-


(File photo)

Who says you can’t make a delicious dessert out practically nothing. You needn’t be running to the supermarket to shop for fancy ingredients or flipping pages of a master chef’s recipe book every time you feel like making a classy sweet dish. Back in the days, our forefathers were rather simple; they managed to conjure up delectable dishes from the most basic ingredients. Here we talk about Shahi Tukda, a dessert that lives up to its name and yet so easy to make.

Bread puddings date back centuries. For the vast majority of history, most people could not afford to waste food, so a number of uses of stale bread were invented. In addition to bread pudding, cooks also used stale bread to make stuffing, thickeners and edible serving containers. Bread puddings were not only made by the Romans, its ancient versions include Om Ali, an Egyptian dessert made from bread, milk or cream, raisins and almonds; Eish es Serny, a Middle Eastern dish made from dried bread, sugar, honey syrup, rosewater and caramel; and Shahi Tukda, an Indian dish made from bread, ghee, saffron, sugar, rosewater and almonds.

Shahi Tukda, meaning Royal Bite, was brought to India by the Mughals, when they conquered a large portion of India. During the Mughal dynasty, dishes were prepared for the emperors for elegant dining with dry fruits and nuts. The hospitality of sharing food with others in Mughal courtly society helped India absorb it as its own, while making Indian cuisine stand apart with pride. Quite ideally therefore, apart from giving the greatest architectural monuments, the Mughals have also changed the country’s cooking by merging Middle Eastern cuisine with Indian spices and ingredients to give the most beautiful Mughlai cuisine. Besides their biryanis, pulaos, rich gravies and kebabs, their desserts are also to die for. Shahi Tukda is nothing but fried bread soaked in a rich milk preparation. If you are wondering on how something so simple would taste so royal, you have to indulge to find out. 

The writer is the author of Aapplemint,

a food, photography and travel blog


● 200 ml sweetened condensed milk

● 200 ml milk (I used semi-skimmed as that’s what was available, you could use whole)

● 100 ml cream

● Handful of pistachios and

almonds slivers

● 2-3 pods cardamom

● Few strands of saffron

● 4 slices of white bread

● 1 tbsp ghee

In a pot, mix crushed cardamom seeds, milk and condensed milk and boil it for about 10 minutes. Add a few strands of saffron, slivered almonds and pistachios, reserving some to garnish. When it’s reduced and thick, remove from gas, and cool. Beat the cream lightly to thicken in a bit, but not too much, and fold it in the milk mixture. Set aside. Cut the corners of the slice bread and cut it diagonally. In a frying pan, put ghee and pan fry the slices of bread till crisp and golden brown. Place the slices of fried bread on a plate and pour some of the milk over it. Allow it to sit for a while. The bread will soak up the milk, and soften and swell up. You can serve it as it is or if you like, chill it, and serve with the remaining milk and garnish with dry fruits.

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