Vegan Wood Apple (Bael) Panna Cotta
Just like mangoes, the 'Bael' fruit comes in different varieties. There are the small ones which have a deep orange colored pulp that is ridden with fiber, small seeds and has a hint of astringency, medium sized ones which have a faint mango like flavour and also big ones with a pale yellow pulp that could rival the 'shrikhand' . Luckily, the 'Bael' tree growing in my childhood home belonged to the last group. So apart from relishing the sherbat, I used to break the 'Bael' , sprinkle a bit of sugar over the halves and dig into the pulp straight from the shell. It was a part of my daily routine during the summer vacations. The medicinal properties of the pulp also prevented the stomach cramps that came from biting into too many green mangoes slices loaded with salt and red chili powder.
Since one does not find 'Bael' in Bangalore, I have one of my relatives bring some for me every summer. And given that the pulp keeps really well in the fridge, I get to consume my favorite 'Bela Panna' atleast a dozen times. Even though it turns darker when stored in the fridge, the flavor remains intact for upto a month's duration. Luckily, I had quite a bit of it remaining when I decided to experiment with a vegan version of the 'Panna Cotta'.
I am still hung-ho about the vegan phenomena that has taken social media by storm. And I keep tying out various recipes to find substitutes for my favorites. My first attempts at a Vegan Panna Cotta were not quite upto the mark as I had just replaced milk and cream with almond milk which is somewhat thinner. That is when I got the idea of adding some of the 'Bael' pulp to thicken it and also to give it a nice flavor. The recipe was an instant hit and I could happily dig into some guilt free dessert even if it is for a month or two. So, that was one of my 'foodventures' with 'Uncommon foods'. Yep, they are the ingredients that have not captured mainstream imagination yet. No wonder it came up as this fortnight's theme for a culinary adventured hosted by the Masterchef Vikas Khanna and food cum travel writer Vir Sanghvi !
Read on for the recipe -
Preparation Time - 30 mins ( plus more for setting the panna cotta )
- 1 cup thick almond milk
- 2/3 cup Bael pulp ( with seeds and fibers removed )
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 1/2 tsp agar agar powder
- 1/3 cup sugar ( substitute with sugarfree powder if daibetic )
- 2 pinch cardamom powder
- 1 tsp rose essence
Preparation - Soak the agar agar in water water for 10-15 mins.
Cooking - Take the almond milk and the sugar in a saucepan. Bring to low boil on medium heat.
At the same time, boil the agar agar and water mixture. Keep whisking it till all the agar agar dissolves.
Switch off both the burners and add the agar agar solution into the almond milk. Whisk at a furious pace to bring everything together.
Wait for another 5-10 mins for the mix to cool down slightly before stirring in the 'Bael pulp'. Sprinkle the cardamom powder and rose essence. Whisk it again to mix everything uniformly.
Pour into the molds or bowls and close them. Let them stand till warm. then pop into the fridge for 5-6 hours to set the 'Panna Cotta'.
Once set, remove from the fridge and serve immediately.
Any guesses what the two maestros are cooking up ?
Wow. Vir's Sushi on Fire sounds almost orgasmic !!
And Vikas has picked up the unheard of 'Shankalu' for his dish !!
Check out these amazing videos and take some inspiration. The Masterchef says that 'the new world belongs to the explorers' ! Already cooked up a storm. Share it HERE.
Will be looking forward to your comments !!