Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Mango Panna Cotta with Agar Agar

I had my whole party menu planned – appetizers, main course, dessert, sides – everything.  First, my mom decided to make a traditional South Indian dish for appetizer – so I canceled one of mine. Then my husband vetoed one of my main course dishes (surprise, surprise – it involved baingan!).  And then, we went to a chanting the day before my party, and the host had made the same dessert I had planned to make.  And three of the families attending the chanting were coming to my house the next day!  So I had to change my dessert.  So much for planning my party in advance!




Anyway, while I was racking my brains for something to make, I remembered a raspberry panna cotta I had in my friend Manisha’s place.  This was the first (and only) time I had tasted this dessert.  It looked so elegant and tasted so good that I had promised myself to try it some time.  I looked up Manisha’s recipe and realized that I couldn’t use it as is because I had a few strict vegetarians coming over and her recipe used gelatin.

There are several recipes online for making panna cotta using agar (or agar agar).  Manjula’s Kitchen has one with coconut milk and agar.  Well, I thought, this sounds perfect!  Got the coconut milk, the mango pulp, and the agar.  Just when I was getting ready to make this, my son walked into the kitchen and said “eeww, coconut milk dessert”.  




So of course I had to change from coconut milk to cream.  I had a pint of whipping cream at home.  I found a recipe that used whipping cream and milk and used that as a guideline (here is that recipe).  Since I didn't think I had enough cream to fill 16 dessert bowls,  I added a little bit of evaporated milk to my cream mixture.  Next time I make this, I am going to try and reduce the cream and increase the evaporated milk - make it a bit healthier!
 
The panna cotta set beautifully and looked so elegant.  It is actually super easy to make and everyone loved it!  I am glad my friend made ras malai for her party because of which I got to try out a new dessert recipe.  This one is a keeper!


Here is what you need:

(for 16 servings of about 150 ml / 5 oz. each)

For the cream layer:

  • 1 pint heavy whipping cream
  • 1½ cups milk
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 3½ tsp. powdered agar
  • ¼ tsp. powdered elaichi (cardamom) 
  • 1 – 1½ cups sugar (adjust to taste) 




For the mango layer

  • 1 can (30 oz.) Ratna Alphonso Mango Pulp (sweetened)
  • 3 tsp. agar
  • ¼ tsp. powdered elaichi (cardamom)
  • 3 – 4 tsp. honey
  • juice of one lemon


Here is how I made it:


For the cream layer:

  1. Heat 1 cup of water and dissolve the agar crystals in it. Set aside.
  2. In a pan, mix the whipping cream, milk, evaporated milk, and sugar (start with 1 cup and add more if necessary).  Bring this to a slow boil.  Add elaichi.  Mix well and turn off the heat.  Pour this into a wide bowl so that it starts cooling down.
  3. Heat the agar solution while constantly mixing it. When it is heated through (doesn’t take much time – couple of minutes), turn off the heat.
  4. Add this to the cream and mix well.
  5. Ladle this into the serving dishes – filling them up a little more than half way.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 45 minutes, before adding the mango layer.




For the mango layer:

  1. Heat 1 cup of water and dissolve the agar crystals in it. Set aside.
  2. In a pan, mix the mango pulp and elaichi. Bring this to a slow boil.  Add the honey and lemon juice. Turn off the heat.  Pour this into a wide bowl so that it starts cooling down.
  3. Heat the agar solution while constantly mixing it. When it is heated through (doesn’t take much time – couple of minutes), turn off the heat.
  4. Add this to the mango pulp.  Mix well.
  5. Pour a ladleful of mango mixture on top of the cream mixture in the serving bowls.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours.  I refrigerated this overnight.


To serve – garnish with fruit of your choice.



6 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Agar (or Agar Agar) is a plant based substitute for gelatin. I think it is called China grass in India. You should be able to get it in Whole Foods or other Natural Food stores in the U.S. Don't know where to get tit in India. Hope this helps!

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  2. It looks just perfect! I am afraid to make it, I think I would ruin it :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My friends have tried it too. It comes out really well. Try it out once!

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