My mind always gravitates to dessert and one of the desserts I have long wanted to play around with has been the Lobongo Latika, a dessert I was introduced to by Aniruddha’s parents.
Back in 2000, they had a Bengali vendor who used to prepare sweets at his house and sell them door-to-door to his Bengali patrons. He would arrive with a large aluminium tiffin carrier and would usually bring 3-4 varieties. One of these was the Lobongo Latika, a deep fried sweet made from khoya or mawa (milk solids) placed in the middle of a rolled-out circle of dough, which is then wrapped around the mawa like an envelope, held in place with a clove and deep fried. And wait….it’s then dipped in sugar syrup!
In Indian desserts we use a lot of spices like nutmeg, mace, cardamom and sometimes cinnamon. But cloves were either to be used in savoury preparations or tucked into your mouth at the first sign of a toothache. Till I tasted the Lobongo Latika, I had never had a dessert with a predominant taste of cloves. And what a taste combination that deep fried dough, soft and heavy mawa and cloves produced – absolutely delicious!
Re-creating the Lobongo Latika is not difficult, but it is a calorie overload. So I decided to borrow its flavours and adapt another calorie heavy, but not as lethal, a dessert – the almond frangipane tart. The combination of the tart and the soft almond frangipane filling was reminiscent of the Lobongo Latika, but of course would need a good dose of cloves and some mawa to bring it closer to the taste. To cut the heaviness I decided to pair it with some fresh orange ice-cream. For some reason cloves and oranges work well in my head.
The resulting tart was really delicious – to be fair it is not a Lobongo Latika, as Aniruddha was quick to point out 😀 But the flavours are definitely present. Even managed to serve it to some friends as a trial and it got very good feedback. A couple of more tweaks and it’s on to the BHDC menu soon….
Lobongo Frangipane Tart
Clove and Almond Filling
- 85g caster sugar
- 90g ground almonds
- 30 g mawa/khoya (In Singapore, frozen mawa is available at Mustafa)
- 80g butter
- 2-3 tsps freshly roasted and ground clove powder (roasting and grinding it fresh makes a ton of difference to the flavour)
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp plain flour
- 100g flour
- 60g butter
- 20g icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp clove powder
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 egg yolk
- 1-2 tsp ice cold water
- Put the flour for the pastry, with the butter, sugar, clove powder and orange zest in a bowl and combine gently with your fingers till the mixture looks crumbly. Add the egg yolk and cold water and bring together to form a dough. Form the dough into the shape that best fits the size and shape of your tart tin, as this will make it easier to roll out. (I used a 9 x 3.5 inch tin). Cover with cling wrap and chill for 20-30 mins
- Remove the pastry dough and on a well floured surface roll it out to the size and shape of your tart tin. I typically put the dough between two floured, baking sheets as this makes it easier to roll and avoid sticking, given the heat in Singapore. Line your tart tin and put it back into the refrigerator to chill for 10-15 mins
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 3. Place the sugar and almonds in a food processor and process for 2 mins until finely ground. Add butter and process till combined. Add egg and process again. Finally add the flour and clove powder and process for under a minute to combine.
- Remove the tart tin with the lined pastry and pour the almond frangipane filling into it. Place this into the oven – I usually place it in the lower 1/3rd rather than the middle of the oven as mine tends to heat rather quickly on the top. Bake for 25-30 mins and insert a toothpick to check if the frangipane filling is done.
- Remove from oven and let it cool down before removing the tart from the tin. Cut into slices and serve with orange ice-cream or even just plain vanilla ice-cream, garnished with orange zest
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!
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)
- 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
- 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.
When I was young, my parents and I would often go to the 5 gardens at Parsi colony to spend an evening. My mom would carry a little picnic basket with a mat, plastic cups, water, tissue paper and other items. I forget which of the 5 gardens we would go to, but I think it was usually the one in the centre.
There used to be many stalls selling food, but it was always pav bhaji for us, followed by kulfi! While the pav bhaji was delicious, it was the kulfi that I still remember, probably because I haven’t eaten kulfi from a street vendor in ages.
The stall owner used to store the kulfi in old fashion ice boxes and would draw out a packet when you ordered it, remove the kulfi and place it on a large green leaf, cut it into squares and then serve it to you on a plastic plate. The simple malai (cream) kulfi was everyone’s favourite, but you could order saffron & pistachio or almond, mango when in season, sometimes orange (though quite rare) and other fruit-based varieties. You could also have a mixed plate and try a little bit of all flavours.
As a kid, I also used to enjoy eating kulfi with falooda and sabja (basil) seeds at the ‘Moghlai’ restaurants in the city. Or sometimes just order a falooda with everything dunked into a tall glass. Rose falooda used to be a favourite but as I became older, I outgrew the taste, as I did with all things pink including strawberry ice cream 🙂
Recently my mother managed to send me the classic aluminum kulfi moulds from Mumbai. And I realized it was time to bring kulfi onto the BHDC menu. Since Alphonso mango season was also approaching, it made perfect sense to add mango kulfi to the summer menu! With a small Singapore twist – I replaced the falooda noodles with chendol noodles. These are green coloured noodles made with green gram/rice flour and pandan juice (screwpine leaves) and typically served with chilled coconut milk and gula melaka (palm sugar).
Mango Kulfi (adapted from http://www.whiskaffair.com/2014/05/kesar-mango-kulfi.html)
- 500ml full fat milk
- 125 ml condensed milk
- 2-3 tbsp cream
- 1/2-3/4 cup mango puree (depending on intensity of the mango taste)
- 1 1/2 tsp cornflour
- 1/4 cup blanched almonds
- 1 tbsp pistachios
- 5-6 strands of saffron
- Toast the blanched almonds and pistachios lightly and then grind them into a coarse powder
- Heat the milk in a heavy bottom pan on a low heat and keep stirring to prevent the milk from burning from the bottom. Add the saffron strands and continue stirring occasionally till the milk reduces by half
- Mix the cornflour with a little water, and once the milk has reduced add the cornflour, condensed milk, cream and ground nuts to the milk. Stir well and cook for another 4-5 mins, till the mixture thickens slightly.
- When the mixture cools down, add the mango puree and mix well.
- Pour into the kulfi moulds and allow them to set in the freezer, ideally overnight
- To remove the kulfi from the moulds, insert the mould into a cup of water for 1-2 seconds. Then turn it upside down onto the serving dish and gently tap to release the kulfi
- To serve, garnish with slivered pistachios and/or almonds. Or if you want to make it more indulgent, you can add falooda/chendol noodles, soaked sabja seeds, slivered nuts and rose petals
Aluminium kulfi moulds
Mango Kulfi with slivered nuts
Frozen Kulfi in the mould