"Kaunsa color chahiye Maam ?"
"Pink aur Green de dijiye ."
"Kaunse flavour mein doon ?"
"Madam kaunsa flavour chahiye ? Jasmine, mogra, gulab ya chandan ?"
I was almost tempted to ask "bas itni hai ? Aur char paanch flavor bhi rakhna tha na Bhaiya ". But better sense prevailed and I asked him to give whatever he wanted as I had to wind up last minute Holi shopping and get back home to prepare dinner.
However the next stall had an ever greater surprise in store. Gone are the days when we were happy with those pichkaris that cost around 10 bucks each. The salesman duly presented me with the latest water gun which had a 2 liter water storage tank attached to it. And even before I could close my jaw which had dropped to threatening levels, yet another specimen was placed in my hands. This one could spray three different colors. And predictably, this 'state of the art' did not come cheap. Each gun was marked above Rs 1000.
Anticipating another tantrum, I quickly placed them back on the makeshift counter and dragged the kid to another stall. His protests quickly drowned out as I handed him a 'Chota Bheem' gun which was priced much more reasonably.
The final stop happened to be the local supermarket. I needed a few things for preparing desserts for the next day. One look at the shelves revealed endless bottles of Thandai jostling for space with a variety of bottled beverages and tinned/canned sweets. A little voice in my head reminded me about my health/fitness resolutions. And that was the moment when I decided to ditch my plans for making kheer. I wanted to prepare something that captured the essence of the festival but without piling on the calories.
Thandai Shrikhand seemed to the prefect answer to my dilemma. I was anyways preparing Thandai for Holi so it was a smart choice to use some of the extract to flavor a home made Shrikhand sweetened with a Zero calorie sweetener like Sugarfree Natura. As I had predicted, none of my guests could guess that it was a sugarfree dessert.
Read on for the recipe -
Preparation Time - 15 mins ( plus overnight standby time for the hung curd )
- 500 ml curd
- 1/3 cup milk
- 4 almonds
- 3 cashews
- 1/2 tsp khuskhus
- 1/2 tsp watermelon seeds
- 1/2 pinch fennel
- 1 green cardamon
- 4-5 peppercorns
- a few strands of saffron
- a few drops of rose syrup
- 3 tbsp Sugarfree Natura ( or as per taste )
For garnishing -
- Chopped pistachios
- dried rose petals
- rose syrup
- saffron strands
Soak the almonds, cashews, khuskhus and watermelon seeds together. (remove the almond skin once it is soaked)
Dry roast the peppercorns, fennel and cardamom till it gives off a fragrance.
Transfer the roasted spices to a grinder jar and powder them as finely as possible. Add all the soaked nuts to the same jar. Grind everything till it becomes a fine paste. [ Add 2-3 tsp milk to thin the consistency if it is getting too difficult to grind. ]
Heat the milk in a saucepan. Add the saffron strands to the still hot milk. Once it cools down to room temperature, add the nuts and spices paste along with rose syrup to it. Let it stand for 1 hour.
Transfer the hung curd, thandai extract and the sugarfree into a mixing bowl. Whisk together to get a uniform mixture. Refrigerate for a couple of hours.
Serve into small dessert bowls and garnish with rose petals, pistachios and saffron strands.