“I put the kitch into kitchen.”
Nigella Lawson,

Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding {eggless} …. this is a post about bread pudding, the festival season, travel, cookware, memories, possessions, obsessions, food props & styling, connects and so much more. To begin with, a bit about the dessert. Fascinatingly, almost every culture across the world has it’s own version of bread pudding.Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830 In many cases, eggs are an intrinsic part as they help to firm up the custard to offer a rich pudding. That version is often baked. We grew up with a no bake eggless version, quintessential in this part of the world. Locally referred to as Shahi Tukda, its translation quite literally ‘the royal bit{e}’!Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830 Inherent ingredients … bread of course {day old if possible} clarified butter, sugar, full cream milk, often  khoya {milk solids also known as mawa}, dry fruit. Saffron if you want to add to the flavours and give it that special touch. I love using saffron. A nice generous teaspoon and you have seductive, lilting flavours in your dessert.

edible rose petals & pistachios Mauviel1830Pistachio slivers, rose petals, beaten silver foil, more saffron … anything to make it even more festive. I thought it fitted right in with my newly acquired {read received as a gift} Mauviel1830 rectangular roasting pan. And there begins another connect … a food prop connect!

Food photography metal I am fascinated by food props. Metal, stone, wood, ceramic, stoneware. However, metal is my first love. Copper to get even more precise. Most folk who know me know well of my love for food props, vintage mostly. A trip to the Kashmir valley in March this year left me virtually breathless. The people, the places, the architecture, scenic beauty, an old world charm …Srinagar March 2014 Also old markets, spices and of course copper-ware. Loads of it. Old Srinagar market is filled with the most beautiful intricately engraved copper. The natives use it in everyday cooking; it’s a part of their life. There was only so much I could carry back. I had been warned about excess baggage!!

Food photography metal

Srinagar March 2014And then last week came something that I had never imagined. More copper. A gift all the way from Normandy, France. Not vintage, but something that left my heart going THUD THUD THUD!! A set of the most beautifully crafted, stellar quality copper and steel cookware form the iconic French brand Mauviel 1830! Take a look.

Mauviel 1930Around the same time, Sharon @ The Keybunch asked if I could do a guest post for her in October, maybe a travel destination with a recipe woven in for Diwali. Her blog is about beautiful spaces, stories, people,travel destinations, art, food, culture….love! I had Srinagar in mind it is one of the most stunning places on earth.

Srinagar, India ... paradise on earthSrinagar means a lot to me. A childhood connect, copper-ware, shikaras, houseboats, snow, saffron, rogan josh, goshtaba, bakeries, fruit, beautiful people … For the recipe, I wanted to use saffron. I’ve done a really nice Caramel Saffron Panna Cotta earlier, so this time opted for a simple eggless Indian Shahi Tukda or bread pudding.

Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830 This Mauviel1830 rectangular pan offered me a perfect choice even though it’s a roasting pan. You can bake an egg custard bread pudding in the pan for a variation. Here is what I did. I tried to use as many of the beautiful creations from Mauviel1830 in this simple recipe. The adorable little pan was used to melt the clarified butter in. The copper bowl for whisking the milk, cream, and condensed milk, the heavy bottom saucepan for reducing the milk concoction…and of course the rectangular pan for final plating.

Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830 It’s a really nice set, and using Mauviel made my experience totally memorable. I felt royal. You got to experience it to believe it. Each piece screams quality, feels great to hold, is crafted with care, and beautiful to look at of course…About Mauviel1830… as a friend rightfully commented on FB, Mauviel1830 is an investment.

Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830 Do head off to Sharon @ The Keybunch to find my simple, rich and indulgent yet rich Indian Shahi Tukda or Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding {eggless} recipe. It’s a quintessential Indian dessert, kept light by toasting the bread. Feel free to play around with spices and or/ingredients. The recipe is pretty basic. Use cardamom or star anise, maybe nutmeg for a change in flavour. Skip the condensed milk and use ricotta, mawa/khoya and sugar instead.

Saffron Pistachio Indian Bread Pudding with Mauviel 1830 Have a warm and happy Diwali!

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“The first meal was an object lesson of much variety. My father produced several kinds of food, ready to eat, without any cooking, from little tin cans that had printing all over them.”
Mary Antin

Phirni Custard with Mixed FruitsEveryone Can Cook… yet another new cookbook from award winning Michelin starred chef Vikas Khanna. I loved his earlier ones, ‘My Great India Cookbook’ and ‘Modern Indian Cooking’. Vikas writes for the global audience, and his books are full of food stories and personal connects. The title of this book seemed rather straightforward… or so I thought. I expected a simple, basic cookbook, encouraging everyone to cook. The catch lay in the word CAN!

Phirni Custard with Mixed Fruits Surprise! Surprise! The can refers to the CAN in the tin industry as in canned foodstuff. Possibly a first in this genre of cookbooks that I have seen in India, I was a little skeptical when I received the book for review. It was only when I read Vikas’s foreword, that I understood and appreciated his sentiments behind the book.

Phirni Custard with Mixed Fruits He talks about his first Christmas in America in 2000 where he cooked in the kitchen of the New York Rescue Mission. In his words, “It was here that I first saw canned food and the thought that moved me was how cans were touching lives through food”. Twelve years later, he was approached to conceptualise recipes for a book using canned ingredients. In his own way of giving back to the community, he educates the reader about the industry through this book.

Directly or indirectly, it impacts millions of lives – thousands of families who provide fruits, vegetables, meats etc. to the canneries, people who work at the canneries, people who transport the cans to the market, those who purchase the cans – even those who collect the cans and take them to recycling centres. In India, rag pickers are considered the main cog in the recycling wheel; they work in underprivileged conditions. For every copy of the book sold, Hindustan Tin Works, the brainchild behind the book, will contribute a part of the proceeds towards the upliftment of this underprivileged community.

Everone Can Cook is a reflection of just how large-hearted he is. I didn’t realise that the canning industry supports such a large community, fosters relationships, helps farmers. Of course it gets the freshest produce preserved for consumers with little loss of nutrition too. The good thing about steel, the primary material used to make cans, is that it can be recycled infinitely without degradation of quality. Recycled cans also inspires art … Andy Warhol type art, or recycled can art!!

Andy Warhol Soup Can ArtLiving in the plains of North India, we don’t realise how blessed we are. We tend to take fresh produce for granted. How often would you reach for beets and carrots in a can, or say canned mushrooms? India is not a huge user of canned foods. It is only now that you see shelves in local bazaars lined with canned foodstuff, a lot of it imported.

Phirni Custard with Mixed Fruits Yet in retrospect, cans were the accepted norm in certain food areas when we were young. Cheddar almost always came out of the round Amul tin, baked beans on toast {a standard of the armed forces breakfast menu} canned again. How can I ever forget condensed milk? We grew up on it, stealing spoonfuls out of the can when no one was looking.

Dark Chocolate Orange Yogurt Eggless Cheesecake 7Cut to now, condensed milk is something I always have on hand. My favourite cheesecake, Dark Chocolate Orange Yogurt Eggless Cheesecake has a can of condensed milk as it’s main ingredient, as do my eggless brownies. Of course my version of Saffron Rice Pudding also uses it. Other canned things I like to stock up is tomato puree, coconut milk & cream, and fruit bits. I did a delicious Tropical Cream Pie with canned fruit bits a while ago … won me first prize in a contest!Tropical Cream PieEveryone Can Cook is divided into easy sections like starters, soups, meat, poultry, vegetables, desserts, beverages etc. I hope it will make the Indian audience look at canned food in new light. The book offers refreshing ideas and innovative ways to use canned food. The good thing is that it makes you think differently.  I especially liked the Peach & Sundried Tomato Chicken Tartlets, Lamb Goulash, Coconut Curry Mango Chicken, Cheese Chili Soup, Chili Crab Mini Falafels, Roasted Peaches with Coconut Walnut sauce & Orange Lychee Pineapple Juice. So much you can cook out of a can!

Phirni Custard with Mixed Fruits The phirni custard was delicious; the fruit pairing quite interesting. It’s a book that makes you think out of the box can! It also makes one appreciate the contribution of the lesser known canning industry to our food centric lives, an industry we tend to take for granted. Did I mention the pictures in the book? Beautifully styled and leaping off pages!


Recipe: Phirni Custard with Mixed Fruits
your picture

Summary: An all time favourite dessert, this Indian rice pudding is a celebration of the earthy taste of basmati rice, saffron and a surprise element…canned fruits. You can serve it warm or chilled. This Phirni Custard with Mixed Fruits is a decadent vegetarian dessert ‘From Everyone Can Cook’ by Vikas Khanna

Serves 4-6

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 1 cup basmati or long grain rice {washed, soaked for 10 minutes & drained}
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp saffron strands {dissolved in 3 tbsp warm milk}
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1/4 cup sugar {optional}
  • 1 small can mixed fruit in syrup {drained well}


  1. Combine rice with 3/4 cup milk in a grinder. Grind to a coarse paste.
  2. Bring the remaining milk to a boil over medium high flame, add rice paste, reduce flame to low and cook, stirring continuously till the rice is cooked. Stir in the condensed milk, saffron {with milk} and cardamom powder {and sugar if using}. As soon as the mixture thickens, remove from flame.
  3. Divide the phirni custard equally into 6 bowls, top with mixed fruit and serve.
  4. Alternatively, refrigerate the phirni custard qnd fruits separately and serve chilled.


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“I remember a hundred lovely lakes, and recall the fragrant breath of pine and fir and cedar and poplar trees. The trail has strung upon it, as upon a thread of silk, opalescent dawns and saffron sunsets.”
Hamlin Garland

Saffron Caramel Panna CottaThere’s something about saffron, something exotic, like a caress, light and beautiful! A tiny bit of this beautiful spice catapults a seemingly good dish into an extraordinary one. Pairing it with a panna cotta I learnt that something quite ethereal happened! We have never sat so long over dessert …  S L O W L Y is how we ate it, not wanting it to finish. Thats just how sublime the Saffron Caramel Panna Cotta turned out to be.Saffron Caramel Panna CottaA good panna cotta is one of my favourite Italian desserts, possibly on top of my list. It’s been difficult to get the right consistency as whipping or heavy cream isn’t available here in India. I’ve made panna cotta several times in the past, but have never had much luck with turning them out perfectly, never a 100% satisfied feel!Saffron Caramel Panna CottaMust have been my lucky day as I experimented with a combination of low fat cream and gelatin and got the most amazing result. Amazing in taste and more importantly amazingly set! I set a few in goblets and the rest in metal molds with a saffron caramel {one in a ramekin too}. Saffron Caramel Panna CottaI had panna cotta on my mind ever since I received a mail from VAV Life Sciences, Mumbai inquiring if I was willing to review a ‘saffron extract‘ that their company produced. Saffron? Yes please! I’d never heard of saffron extract even though I use the normal dry saffron strands quite often … like here in Saffron, Pistachio & cardamom Kulfi {Indian frozen dessert}, Saffron Pistachio Yogurt Ice Cream, Saffron Rice Pudding, Hyderabadi Katchi Biryani, Yakhni Pulao etc.

Saffron Caramel Panna Cotta Natural Saffron Extract : Saffron is a culinary spice that comes from the stigma of the crocus sativus flowers. Saffron Extract is a specially formulated food grade extract of saffron that has been treated to enhance the natural flavour of saffron, without losing any of its natural properties. There is a reduction in the amount of saffron extract required for imparting the same flavour, as compared to dry saffron. While the saffron leaves quickly stale and dry out, saffron extract does not lose flavour and can be stored upto 24 months. Liquid extract is easier to use and standardized in food preparations compared to dry stamens and can be dosed precisely compared to natural saffron. {For further details you can get in touch with  Maitreyee Ghoshlogistics {@} vav {dot} in/ VAV Life Sciences }

With the tag of being the most expensive spice in the world, saffron is precious in many ways, especially its delicate flavour. Gentle and mild yet it elevates taste exotically perhaps like no other spice, saffron is associated with cuisines from India, Persia, Turkey, the Arab World, and even Europe. And I love the way it embraces both sweet and savory recipes so well.Saffron Caramel Panna CottaSaffron Caramel Panna CottaThis versatile spice goes a long way, and the saffron extract was a pleasant surprise. It imparted the characteristic subtle saffron flavour and colour to perfection. It was easier to use as its already in an extract form so the need to soak it for the obligatory 15 minutes prior use wasn’t necessary. The flavours were deep and pronounced, as was the colour. Saffron Caramel Panna CottaJust a knife tip amount {about 1/8tsp} was good enough to beautifully flavour the panna cotta and another bit to flavour and colour the caramel.Saffron Caramel Panna CottaA panna cotta caramel? That morning my path crossed with Raquels who writes a stunning food blog in Spanish, The Tragaldabas. She had the most beautiful panna cotta posted there, and I found my culinary path instantly!! She used Werthers candy in her caramel, and the very idea of a panna cotta with a caramel had me captivated.Saffron Caramel Panna CottaI went my own caramel way, like how my mother used to make it for caramel custard when we were kids. I remember waiting with bated breadth for the custard to be turned over {always in a green bowl which was reserved for caramel custard}. All three of us sisters would cheer when like magic the well set steamed pudding would ‘plop’ out with this shining crown on top!Saffron Caramel Panna CottaSaffron Caramel Panna Cotta extractThat was going to be the caramel for my panna cotta, one I decided to flavour with a dash of the saffron extract. Since saffron is such a gentle spice, I kept from letting the caramel turn characteristically dark. Bitter caramel in pudding is yum, but with saffron I turned the heat off the minute the sugar melted and coloured slightly.Saffron Caramel Panna CottaPerfect Spring dessert, the panna cotta came together like a beautiful dream, lilting, mesmerising, smooth, perfect, like a dream you didn’t want to wake up from. The textures teased the palette and we ate it in silence, everyone enjoying the elegance and caress of this cooked cream. {I made it again yesterday, on request, and to ensure that the magic was for real. It was!!}Saffron Caramel Panna Cotta

[print_this]Recipe: Saffron Caramel Panna Cotta your picture

Summary: Perfect Spring dessert, the panna cotta came together like a beautiful dream, lilting, mesmerising, smooth, perfect, like a dream you didn’t want to wake up from. The textures teased the palette and we ate it in silence, everyone enjoying the elegance and caress of this exquisite Italian dessert.

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes plus setting time

  • Saffron caramel
  • 75gm granulated sugar
  • 1-2gm saffron extract {knife tip full}
  • Saffron Panna Cotta
  • 2tsp gelatin powder
  • 3 tbsp cold water
  • 1ltr low fat cream {18% fat}
  • 110gm vanilla sugar {or plain}
  • 1/8 tsp saffron extract {plus a teeny bit more for topping}
  • Pistachios, rose petals to garnish


  1. Saffron caramel
  2. Keep the serving molds/ramekins ready.
  3. Place sugar and 1/8 tsp of saffron extract in heavy bottom pan and melt the sugar to a light caramel. Do not let it burn or it will gte bitter. Swirl the pan often and take off the minute all the sugar has melted. It should be a bright orange colour.
  4. Immediately spoon about a heaping tsp into each mold/ramekin, swirling it about to distribute it.Continue for all the molds. Do this pretty fast as the caramel will harden rapidly. Just in case it hardens before you are  place the pan over very low heat to melt again.
  5. Saffron Panna Cotta
  6. Sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let stand for five minutes.
  7. Place the cream, saffron and sugar in a heavy bottom pan and gently bring to a simmer, but not a full boil. Stir often.
  8. Take off heat. Add 1-2 tbsp of this hot cream to the dissolved gelatin to loosen it further, and then pour the gelatin mix back into the hot cream through a sieve. Stir well.
  9. Let the mixture stand for about 10 minutes, reserve about 100ml {optional}, and distribute the rest among your serving bowls/molds/ramekins/goblets.
  10. Leave to set for about 1-2 hours, then add a tbsp of the deeper saffron cream over the tops. Allow to set for another 6-8 hours/preferably overnight.
  11. Demold loosening the sides with a blunt knife and serve with a sprinkling of pistachio nuts and edible dried rose petals if you like.


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