Saturday, 2 June 2012

A Jubilee Dessert Fit For An Indian Raj

I wanted to post something special for the jubilee weekend but for weeks couldn't think of what to make. An Indian style spin on a British classic? Something sticky toffee-esque? How about a British curry night inspired menu? Seasonal veg Jalfrezi? Hmm... Nothing was quite hitting the spot. It had to be something fitting for this royal occasion, something different, luxurious and indulgent but light and summery for the season.

I thought back to the British rule in India which inspired so many great dishes, most of which can still be found on the menu in any 'tandoori' style restaurants here in England today, but none of which seemed right for a British street party. Then I thought of an Indian tea party... What would I serve at a tea party at one of the Royal palaces in India? Something to complement a fragrant cup of masala chai, which is not too heavy in the Indian heat, that is special and regal enough to serve to royalty. Something which is beautiful, simple to make and full of delicious flavour.

The result - a trifle inspired slice, with sparkling vegetarian passion fruit jelly, lightly spiced ginger biscuits and egg free mango custard, topped with lashings of whipped cream and some very British strawberries, yum! Trifle and strawberries are British classics and mangoes are the national fruit of India. Cream is an international indulgence and the ginger biscuits complement the flavours of the fruits as well as the aroma of masala chai perfectly, and they are egg free to boot! Passion fruit have become extremely popular in India, although they are not native there. As they are originally from Brazil, my guess is that they were brought to India by the Portuguese who colonised the western region of Goa in the 16th century. The climate in India suits passion fruit well and they are now cultivated across the country as well as in Sri Lanka.

indian vegetarian trifle with passion fruit jelly and mango custard

A note on the recipe: I'm certain there are far more sophisticated ways of making this than in a disposable foil tray but for ease and convenience, this works great. If you are lucky enough to have more suitable tools to hand please go ahead and use them :) Also, sticking with the vegetarian friendly theme I have used vegetarian jelly and egg free custard, feel free to substitute if your diet permits although I believe this tastes just as good.

Indian Inspired Jubilee Trifle Slices

For the sparkling passion fruit vegetarian jelly:
4 ripe passion fruit
300 ml cold water
2 x 6 g sachets of vegetarian gelatin (such as 'Vege-Gel', available in most supermarkets or substitute with agar agar if you are able to get it)
sugar to taste
200 ml sparkling passion fruit drink (such as Rubicon)
100 g (about 8) ginger crinkle biscuits (not ginger nuts as they are too hard!)

Method:
  • Lightly grease a shallow 30 x 20 cm foil baking tray.
  • Chop the passion fruits in half and scoop the flesh out into a fine metal sieve placed on top of a measuring jug.
  • Press all the pulp through the sieve, you should get at least 50 ml, use more fruit if necessary.
  • Having pressed out all of the juice, if desired you can add one or two teaspoons of the seeds to the juice to add texture to your finished jelly, or just discard them if you prefer a smooth version. Leave the pulp aside.
  • Add the water to a saucepan and thoroughly whisk in the powdered vegetarian gelatin.
  • Set over a medium heat and until boiling.
  • Whisk in the passion fruit pulp and sugar if using then allow to cool for 2 minutes in the pan, stirring continuously.
  • Gently stir in the sparkling juice and pour quickly and carefully into the prepared tray - you don't want to lose too many bubbles.
  • Roughly break up 4 of the biscuits and randomly place across the surface of the jelly.
  • Roughly crush the remaining biscuits in your palms and sprinkle coarse crumbs in the gaps between the biscuits.
  • Leave aside, vegetarian jelly sets at a much higher temperature than other gelatin so this should be set within a few minutes.
For the egg free mango custard:
1 ripe kesar mango
275 ml full fat milk
4 tbsp vegetarian custard powder (such as Bird's)
sugar to taste

Method:
  • Peel and chop the mango into chunks, pulse in a food processor.
  • Press the mango puree through a fine metal sieve and into a measuring jug.
  • You should get around 125 ml of smooth mango pulp.
  • Pour the milk into the measuring jug and whisk with the mango until well combined.
  • Add the custard powder and sugar if using to a large mixing bowl.
  • Add a few tablespoons of the mango/milk mixture to the powder and whisk to create a thick, smooth paste.
  • Heat the remaining milk mixture until almost boiling.
  • Pour the hot milk into the custard paste, whisking continuously.
  • Whisk well and then return to a saucepan and back to the heat.
  • Heat the custard, whisking all the time until thickened.
  • Leave aside to cool, stirring occasionally.
Assembly:
600 ml double cream
100g caster sugar
strawberries, ginger biscuits, dark chocolate to decorate

Method:
  • Spread the cooled custard over the set jelly and refrigerate until the custard has set.
  • Whip the cream and sugar together until soft peaks form.
  • Spread on top of the set custard.
  • Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  • Run a knife around the edge of the trifle and then carefully cut away the sides of the tray.
  • Using a knife dipped in hot water cut the trifle into slices and place each slice onto a serving plate.
  • Decorate with strawberries, extra ginger biscuits or even drizzle on some melted dark chocolate if desired.
  • Serve immediately.
indian vegetarian trifle with passion fruit jelly and mango custard

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