Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for Kesar Badam Shrikhand, a dessert made using the exotic spice, saffron.
What is Shrikhand?
Shrikhand is a traditional Gujarati dessert, the main ingredient of which is hung curd. Curd is tied in a cotton cloth and hung over the sink or placed over a colander, for all the water to drain out of it. What is left is a thick, creamy residue, which we know as ‘hung curd’. This is the way shrikhand is traditionally made, though some modern-day recipes suggest the use of Greek yogurt instead of the hung curd.
Powdered sugar is mixed into this hung curd, typically with one or more flavouring agents like cardamom, saffron, dried fruits, nuts and the like. Modern versions of the shrikhand include flavours like chocolate, pineapple, strawberry, mango and butterscotch. The Kesar Badam Shrikhand I am presenting today includes saffron and almonds.
Shrikhand is extremely easy to prepare, and requires the bare minimum of ingredients. It tastes utterly delicious, though! It is popular in Gujarati households as a dessert, had on its own, or as an accomplishment to piping-hot pooris.
A closer look at saffron
You probably already know that saffron is a very expensive spice. However, did you know that it is considered to be the costliest spice in the world?
Saffron – ‘kesar‘ in Hindi and ‘kumkuma poo’ in Tamil – comes from the Crocus Sativus flower, also referred to as the Saffron Crocus. What we know as saffron is actually the stigma of these flowers, which are collected and dried. Each crocus flower yields just three stigma, which go on to become three threads of saffron, and these only need to be picked by hand. This is delicate work, which cannot be done by a machine. It takes thousands of these crocus flowers to yield a miniscule amount of saffron – and that’s why it is super expensive!
Most of the world’s saffron is grown in Iran, followed by Kashmir in India. Morocco, Greece and Spain are other small producers of saffron, too. Saffron comes in the form of threads, and is usually sold in little boxes of 1, 5 or 10 grams.
A pinch of the spice added to hot water or milk releases a beautiful, natural pale yellow colour and its enchanting aroma. No wonder saffron is so extensively used as a colouring and flavouring agent in various dishes, both sweet and savoury.
#ExoticSaffron at Foodie Monday Blog Hop
I’m part of this passionate bunch of food bloggers, called the Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The members share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday.
The theme for the Foodie Monday Blog Hop this Monday is #ExoticSaffron, wherein we are showcasing different dishes made using saffron. I love using saffron in my kitchen, whenever I can get my hands on some authentic, good-quality stuff. I already have recipes for Rava Kesari, Kesar Badam Lassi and Gondhoraj Lebu Pulav on my blog, all made using saffron. Today, I decided to share one of our favourite family recipes with the spice – Kesar Badam Shrikhand.
The very talented and experienced blogger Mayuriji of Mayuri’s Jikoni was the one who suggested the theme for the week. I loved the way she has used saffron in this recipe for Paal Kozhukattai, a heritage Tamilnadu dish. I’m also charmed by her Lemongrass & Ginger Jelly, with saffron.
How to make Kesar Badam Shrikhand
Here is how I go about it.
Ingredients (serves 2):
- 500 ml curd
- 1/4 cup powdered sugar or as needed
- 2 tablespoons hot milk
- A generous pinch of saffron
- 10-12 almonds
- Dry rose petals for garnishing, as needed (optional)
1. Take the curd in a large cotton cloth, fold and hang it up atop the kitchen sink for 3-4 hours to drip. Alternatively, the curd can be kept in a cotton cloth over a colander, with a bowl kept underneath to catch all the water dripping out. In 3-4 hours, all the water would have drained out of the curd and you would be left with a thick residue.
2. Transfer this residue to a large mixing bowl and add in the powdered sugar.
3. Take the hot milk in a small cup, and add in the saffron. Mix well, and keep aside for at least 15-20 minutes for the saffron to release its colour and fragrance into the milk.
4. While the saffron is soaking, chop up the almonds finely. Add this to the mixing bowl, reserving some for the garnishing.
5. When the saffron is done soaking, add the coloured milk to the mixing bowl, threads and all.
6. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl well. Place it, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 1-2 hours to chill. Your Kesar Badam Shrikhand is ready to serve.
7. Now, transfer the shrikhand to serving bowls. Serve it garnished with dried rose petals (if using) and the chopped almonds we had reserved earlier. You can serve this Kesar Badam Shrikhand on its own or as a side for hot pooris.
Tips & Tricks
1. Use curd made from full-fat milk, for best results. Either store-bought or home-made curd can be used. It should be reasonably thick and not too watery.
2. The shrikhand tastes best when the curd is fresh and not overly sour.
3. Make sure the saffron you are using is original and not adulterated. There are several fake versions being sold in the name of saffron.
4. Adjust the quantity of sugar you use, depending on personal taste preferences. The above quantity was just perfect for us.
5. I have used regular refined sugar here. I’m guessing you could use a healthier alternative like jaggery too, but I have never tried that out. For me, shrikhand is always made with sugar.
6. Make sure the milk is quite hot when you add the saffron strands to it. Leave it undisturbed for at least 15-20 minutes, for the saffron to release its colour and flavour into the milk. This is important.
7. A cotton cloth works best for the making of the hung curd. Make sure all the water has drained out of the curd, and that you are left with a thick, creamy residue.
8. I have added finely chopped almonds (badam) to the shrikhand, for texture. You can also toast the almonds before chopping them up and adding them to the shrikhand.
9. I have used some dried rose petals and finely chopped almonds to garnish the Kesar Badam Shrikhand. You can skip the garnishing if you so prefer, though I must say it makes the dessert look wayyyy better!
10. Don’t overdo the saffron. It is meant to be used in small quantities only. Add a good pinch of saffron for the above recipe, and that’s just right.
11. This recipe is NOT vegan or plant-based, because of the use of curd made from dairy-based milk. It is completely gluten-free, though.
12. I prefer making shrikhand in small batches and consuming it within a few hours of the making. It can turn slightly more sour than is comfortable, if left uneaten for more than a few hours. It tastes best when slightly chilled.
Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!