An Irani café for dessert?

One of the things I lament the most when I visit coffee shops both in Singapore and back in Mumbai is the disappearance of good old fashioned tea cakes. Much as I like a brownie or a cheesecake every now and then, nothing quite complements a cup of tea or coffee like a simple tea cake. Even a plain old sponge or ribbon cake will do, I seek nothing fancier.

One of my favourite tea cakes is the Mawa cake. And nothing compares to the Mawa cake that was sold at B.Merwan’s outside Grant Road (E) station. When I worked in Advertising, our office used to be at Kemps Corner and very often my colleague, Firoz, would stop at Merwan’s to pick up some fresh Mawa cakes and the crusty Brun maska and bring it to the office. I would postpone my breakfast as much as possible on the off chance that Firoz had managed to secure either the cake or the brun, as both would run out very fast. And on the lucky days when he did manage to get them, I would be over the moon. Ah, the joy of biting into the soft yet decadent Mawa cake or dunking the Brun muska into a cup of tea to soften it just a wee bit before taking a bite. I have heard that B.Merwan’s closed down and then heard another rumour saying they were open again – not sure which is true, but it would be an absolute shame if they had really closed their doors forever.

Of course nothing compares to the experience of having the Mawa cake in an Irani establishment because then you have the joy of eating it with hot Parsi or Irani mint tea, complete with the ambience of an Irani cafe. Parsi Choi is like masala chai, sweet but a little less heavy on the spices and with the addition of fresh mint leaves. The mint leaves make all the difference and the tea is the perfect pairing to any freshly baked item.

Recently I was looking through the album of our trip back to Mumbai last year and came across photos at Kyani & Co. Aniruddha and I had gone to indulge in a cup of Parsi Choi (called Irani mint tea at Kyani) with Bun maska (a soft bun with butter vs. the crusty Brun). And seeing those photos got me thinking about how I could bring this amazing combination on to our menu. It had to be dessert, since I wanted to serve Mawa cake and then it struck me…why not convert the Parsi Choi into ice-cream! When in doubt, everything can be turned into an ice-cream 🙂

I have posted about Mawa cakes earlier on the blog, but now am sharing the recipe I use. I had to search for a Parsi Choi recipe and came across one on Peri’s Spice Ladle (http://www.perisspiceladle.com/2014/01/03/mint-and-cardamon-parsi-choi-or-chai-an-indian-tea). I first made a regular cup of Parsi Choi, which turned out amazing – a little more spicy and less milky & sweet than the ones I have had in Irani restaurants. I then took the recipe and married it with my basic ice-cream recipe to create the Parsi Choi ice-cream! Warm Mawa cake with Parsi Choi ice-cream – takes you back to an Irani cafe!

Priya

Mawa cake adapted from Tartelette Blog

  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp mawa
  • 1 ¼th cup flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 6-7 strands of saffron
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 9 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp cardamom powder
  • Chopped pistachios for decoration (optional)

Method

  • Pre-heat the oven at 180C, gas mark 3
  • Warm milk and soak the saffron strands. After a couple of minutes, grind gently to release the colour
  • Sift the flour, cardamom powder and baking powder together
  • Beat the sugar, mawa and butter till soft and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat till incorporated. If the mixture starts to look curdled, add a tbsp. of flour
  • Alternately add the flour and milk and beat well till mixed.
  • Pour into greased and floured cupcake holders or in a baking tin and bake for 20-25 minutes. Keep a close eye toward the 20 min mark, as if the oven gets too hot, the top of the cakes can start to burn
  • Insert a toothpick to check if the cake is baked. Remove the tin/cupcakes and let them come down to room temperature. Remove the cakes from the cupcake holders or from the baking tin and leave on a rack.

Parsi Choi ice-cream

  • 300ml milk
  • 125ml cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 70-75g sugar
  • 4-5 tsp loose black tea (add more if you want it stronger)
  • 12-15 mint leaves, shredded by hand
  • 8-9 cardamom pods, crushed to open
  • ½ inch piece of ginger, sliced

Method

  • Make cooked tea by boiling milk, mint, ginger, loose tea and cardamom. Bring to the boil and let it simmer for around 5 mins. Turn off the heat. Strain the tea and keep aside in a saucepan.
  • Whisk the sugar and egg yolks till pale and frothy. Add a little of the strained, milk tea while still hot. Whisk together and then add the egg and sugar mixture to the saucepan containing the remaining milk, whisking as you add it. Cook the custard on a low heat, whisking to avoid the egg from scrambling. When the custard coats the back of a spoon, turn off the heat and let the custard cool down
  • Whip the cream till slightly thick and add to the custard. Chill the mixture in the fridge till it is completely chilled.
  • Pour the mixture into your ice-cream maker and churn for 25 minutes till it forms into a smooth ice-cream. Take out into a container and freeze.

To serve, warm the mawa cake, serve a scoop of the Choi ice-cream over it and top it with fresh mint leaves and slivered pistachios.

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