A friend invited us over for a cozy Diwali dinner this week. I rashly offered to bring mithai and when the offer was taken up, was in a tizzy about what to make. I'd come down with a really bad cold and didn't have the energy or inclination to spend hours slaving over the stove. And a really busy phase at work again meant the need for a quick fix. At the same time I didn't want to just carry something bought from a store, especially the very conventional mithai. I had been contemplating doing a twist on western and Indian desserts anyway - a mysore-pak filling in a pie etc. But given the lack of desire for hard work, a Pannacotta seemed like an effortless choice.
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups fullcream milk
4-5 Motichoor Laddoos ( I like the kesar version), broken into crumbs
A few Rasbharis - those tiny gulab jamuns that come in a warm caramel or chocolate brown colour - quartered
1/2-3/4 cup sugar
10-15 strands of saffron
1 teaspoon finely powdered cardamom
2 tablespoons water
3 teaspoons powdered gelatin - I use vegetarian gelatin
Heat the water to boiling point in a heat proof bowl. Add the powdered gelatin and stand the bowl in a pan of hot water, whisking about with a fork till it dissolves - I find it easier to prevent the gelatin balling up if you make it into a paste and slowly keep adding more water. Let it cool
Meanwhile mix the cream and milk, add the saffron and cardamom and heat on medium heat until it comes to a boil. Take off the heat, add the sugar and heat on low, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Add the cooled down gelatin water and mix thoroughly. Set aside to cool briefly.
Take out the bowls in which you're planning to set the pannacotta - ramekins or whatever. Put in the crumbed motichoor laddoos at the bottom and put it into the refrigerator to set for about half hour. Take out, pour in the cooled pannacotta mixture and put away in the refrigerator to set for 2-3 hours. At some point halfway through, pull out the cups and top with the rasbhari.
Let set. To serve, either use the cups if feeling lazy, like I usually do. If you want to show off the perfect pannacotta wobble, run a sharp knife around the edges of the ramekins and tip the pannacotta out onto a plate. Serve with modest pride!