Basundi ~ Creamy Milk Dessert
Basundi is a milk based sweet from western India. It is a thick sweetened milk, flavored with cardamom and saffron, garnished with pistachios and almonds. In some versions of basundi, powdered nuts are also used.
Traditionally to prepare basundi, whole milk is boiled with constant stirring until it reduces to ⅔ or ½ the original quantity. I used half and half, which makes basundi preparation a breeze. It still takes about half hour to prepare it but it is not as tedious as it is if preparing from scratch, with whole milk.
I made basundi for Maharashtrian thali and made it again last week when couple of friends came home for lunch. The first time I made basundi, I used a wider saucepan and basundi was done in less than ½ hour. Last week I used a smaller saucepan and it took almost 40 – 45 minutes. Hence, to speed up the preparation, I recommend a wide saucepan. Bring half and half to boil, reduce the flame to medium low – low, simmer until it reduces a bit, add powdered nuts, sugar, cardamom, saffron and stir constantly until it thickens. Voila, basundi is done! Most of the stirring is in the last 10 minutes and rest of the preparation is hands free, to do other tasks in the kitchen.
Cooking Time: 25 – 30 minutes
- 1 quart Half and Half (half whole milk and half cream)
- 12 – 16 roasted Pistachios
- 12 Whole Cashews, broken into small pieces
- 4 tbsp. Blanched and Sliced Almonds
- ⅛ tsp. Cardamom Seeds
- ½ – ⅔ cups Sugar (I used ⅔ cup and husband thought it was sweet and I thought it was perfect)
- Few strands of Saffron
- Bring half and half milk to a boil in a wide saucepan. I used a 2 ½ quart saucepan and it will take about 8-10 minutes for milk to come to a boil.
- Reduce the flame to medium low – low and let the milk boil for about 10 minutes until it thickens a bit. Keep stirring in between to avoid burning at the bottom and cream/milk sticking to the sides.
- Grind pistachios, cashews, almonds and cardamom seeds to a powder. Keep the powder coarse or keep side some nuts for garnish and grind the rest of the nuts to fine powder.
- Add it to milk and stir immediately. Stir until the there are no lumps.
- Add sugar, saffron and continue simmering until the mixture thickens a bit.
- Turn off the heat and let cool.
- Serve basundi warm or chilled. I prefer chilled.
- Garnish with finely chopped nuts.