This post can alternatively be titled "how not to make friends and influence people".
I mentioned that I moved last week, right? On my third day in the new neighborhood I found myself invited to a tea party (later in the week) at the house of the neighbor who lives across the street from me. It was awfully sweet of her to invite me in an effort to introduce me to a small group of Sout-East Asian (read Pakistani & Indian) ladies from the neighborhood. I was told it was a pot-luck but I was not obliged to bring anything because I have my hands full, not to mention my luck running completely down the drain with my oven and refrigerator going kaput the moment we moved in, as well as various plumbing-related disasters (more on those horror stories later).
I wanted to take something along anyway. But baking was out of the question. However, by some stroke of luck my refrigerator came to life a day before the party, so I figured I could manage to cook some kind of dessert on the stove. And I thought: Shahi Tukray. It's a wonderful Pakistani dessert; one that I really enjoy making and consuming, and I can't think of many Pakistanis or Indians who don't love it as well as I do.
It was a brilliant idea (according to myself) . . . but then I decided to reduce the amount of sugar to almost 1/4th of what I generally use. Some evil voice in my head whispered that I ought to make it less sweet. And so I ruined the dessert. Which I discovered too late: at the party.
These things happen. You have to take them in your stride.
But you just don't want them happening when you're meeting a group of strangers for the first time in your life.
Talk about Social-Suicide: torture their taste buds; ruin your social status forever.
If you never hear neighborhood-related pot-luck stories from me ever again, you will know why.
On to the recipe, in it's unaltered form.
One warning before I proceed: any Indian/Pakistani dish (either savory or sweet) beginning with the word 'Shahi' (which means Royal) is bound to be decadent and super-rich; full of cream or sugar or fat or nuts or all four combined.
If none of that is for you, turn around now and stop reading this post.
4-6 slices of white bread, crusts removed and cut into triangles
1 litre milk (it doesn't matter if you use low-fat, it won't alter the carb/fat content of this dessert)
6-8 cardamom pods, split open
1/2 - 3/4 cup sugar
1 cup powdered milk
A couple of tablespoons of Ghee (Clarified Butter) for frying
Chopped pistachios/almonds for garnish
Fry the bread triangles in ghee till both sides are golden brown.
I prefer to spread a very thin layer of ghee on both sides of the bread and place it in a hot, un-greased pan. I like to believe that I'm using less ghee that way.
The ghee can be substituted with butter if you can't find it, but don't try to substitute it with margarine because it will taste awful.
Once the bread is fried, arrange it in a dish any way that you like. I cut mine into smaller triangles this time and so I randomly layered them on top of each other.
Place the milk, cardamom, sugar and powdered milk in a heavy-based pan. Mix well and simmer on medium-low heat, stirring every now and then, till the sugar has dissolved and the milk mixture has slightly reduced (About 45 mins - 1 hour).
Remove from heat, spoon the hot milk all over the bread triangles; making sure all of them are covered.
Let cool for 10 mins before covering with cling-film. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight before serving.
Garnish with chopped pistachios or almonds (or both). Serve.