An Indian recipe meaning “royal piece of dessert”, this dish is full of fruity cardamom and buttery cream flavors, and is a truly decadent treat.
Indian food has not always been my jam. I grew up one of the worlds pickiest eaters, and because of some (untrue) preconceived notions I had about Indian food, I always avoided it. Luckily, as I’ve aged, my husband has forced me to try new things, and one of those things is Indian food, and thank goodness for it. Now I’m not going to claim that I don’t end up ordering Chicken Tikka Masala a good portion of the time, but I feel like that’s progress.
So, for the last 10 years or so, I’ve been happily eating Indian food, but I’ve never branched out enough to cook it on my own, and there are a few reasons for that. The main reason is that I’m lazy, and a lot of Indian recipes have long ingredients lists full of things that I was completely unfamiliar with. The second reason is also laziness based – I didn’t have access to a lot of the spices that these recipes called for, because although Cincinnati is definitely becoming a foodie town, it’s still not easy to find asafetida or fenugreek or fresh curry leaves anywhere near me.
For the last year or two, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching Priya Krishna cook various Indian dishes on the Bon Appetit YouTube channel and through watching her, I’ve learned that Indian food is nothing to be scared of. Yes, there are a lot of ingredients in some of the recipes, but some are incredibly simple. I bought her cookbook, Indian-ish, almost as soon as I knew that she had one and I’ve been working my way through it slowly ever since.
A few weeks ago, my friends at myspicebag.com took away my other reason to be scared of the long ingredients lists when they sent me several spices to try.
One of the ones they sent me were green cardamom pods, and I knew instantly that I needed to make on of the recipes from Priya’s that I’ve had bookmarked forever, just waiting for the right moment.
So, the version in Priya’s book is a family recipe, I believe. When I was doing a little bit of research on the dish in preparation for writing this blog post, it seems like most variations of the dish use saffron to flavor the milk, whereas this recipe calls for cardamom only. Most of the recipes I found have you toast the bread in Ghee, and Priya uses oil.
But at the end of the day, this is basically a no-bake Bread Pudding, and even if this isn’t the most authentic recipe, I would still recommend it to anyone looking for something a little different.
Green cardamom has a light, fruity, almost minty flavor, and is also incredibly good for you.
Some of the health benefits of Cardamom:
High in antioxidants
May contain cancer fighting compounds
High in compounds that fight inflammation
Treats bad breath – some people eat entire cardamom pods after a meal to freshen their breath.
The main flavor profiles in this dish are cardamom and cream, so make sure you’re using really good ingredients. You can go to myspicebag.com to order whole green cardamom pods, and make this yourself. You really want to use the whole pods and grind them down yourself in a mortar and pestle – you’ll get such a burst of flavor that you just don’t get with pre-ground spices.
To Make Shahi Toast
You’ll start by cooking the cream in a medium pot over medium heat for a few minutes until warmed through. Add in sugar and the cardamom that you ground up yourself, and set aside. Fry white bread in a little bit of oil or ghee until lightly browned. Add the toasted bread to your cooking vessel (the original recipe calls for an 8 inch square pan – I did it in individual ramekins because 1. It’s easier to portion control that way and 2. It’s cuter) Once you have the bread in place, pour the cream over it, and make sure the bread is fully soaked into the cream. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. You’ll wake up to the most delicious, custardy, bready treat. Chop up some pistachios and scatter on top, and you’ve got a real treat!
8 H & 10 M
- 1 ½ cups heavy cream
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 green cardamom pods, seeds removed from pods and crushed in a mortar and pestle.*
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 5 slices of white bread, crusts removed, and each slice cut into four small squares.
- 2 tablespoons of roughly chopped pistachios.
- In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, add two tablespoons of water and then your heavy cream. The water prevents the cream from sticking and burning.
- Cook over medium heat for 4-6 minutes or until warmed through. Remove from heat, and add the sugar and cardamom, and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
- in a large skillet over medium heat add the vegetable oil, and then the pieces of bread. Cook for 2-4 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for 1-2 minutes on the other side (2nd side will brown faster)
- Arrange the pieces of bread in your container of choice - 8x8 baking dish or 4 individual ramekins.
- Pour the cream over the bread and press down on the bread with a spoon to make sure it's really soaking up the cream.
- Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least hours, preferably overnight.
- Just before serving, chop pistachios and garnish.