Daily Recco, October 30: Shahi Tukda, a bite of royalty
Shahi Tukda is a succulent dessert that shows the ingeniousness of the Mughal khansamahs. Every slice of this dessert is crispy bread soaked in the creaminess of sweet condensed milk, and a straight transport to heaven.
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Ever thought of giving yourself a royal treat? Well, the Shahi Tukda — as the name suggests — is just that. The name literally translates to ‘a royal piece’ and that is exactly what it tastes like — a slice of royalty.
This succulent dessert — made with bread, ghee, sugar, milk and nuts — traces its origins to kitchens of the Mughal emperors. There are several theories about the origins — from it being whipped up by Babur’s chefs in the 16th century (and they themselves adapting it from the local cooks across central Asia and Africa during their travels) and travelling with them to India, to it being a resourceful and creative use of bread during Ramzan by the chefs in the kitchens of the Mughals.
Believe you me, the dish was originally made with leftover bread for the Mughal emperors! During the Ramzan fasts, a lot of bread was left over in the royal kitchens. Instead of throwing that bread away, the Mughal khansamahs came up with the ingenious idea of frying the loaf in ghee, topping it with creamy and sweetened condensed milk, garnished with a generous chunk of dry fruits and nuts, and decorating with gold varkh (edible gold leaf). Now, who would ever associate leftover staling bread with this imperial delicacy?
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
This apt end to a royal feast has many variants. The closest one is the Hyderabadi Double ka Meetha. In the Nizam’s region, bread is called ‘double roti’ and hence the name Double ka Meetha. The difference between Double ka Meetha and Shahi Tukda is very subtle — Double ka Meetha is slightly fluffier, and the rabdi (or the condensed milk) is slightly thicker in Shahi Tukda. Otherwise, the taste and the presentation is almost the same. It is a staple of almost every Muslim festival, and we suggest you try this for Milad un Nabi (that ends this evening), Diwali, Chhath and even Christmas! Because Shahi Tukda is the ultimate winter dessert to snuggle up with.
What you’ll need:
Six slices of white bread
One cup (250 ml) ghee for deep frying
For the sugar syrup:
One-third cup sugar
Half a cup of water
Half a teaspoon of rose essence
For rabdi (or the condensed milk):
20 almonds soaked in water for four hours and peeled
Three-and-half cups (875 ml) of milk
Three tablespoons of sugar
Half a teaspoon of cardamom powder
One pinch of saffron strands
For the garnish:
Mixed dry fruits and nuts
Before you start, dry the bread in the sun for at least four to five hours or toast it on a dry tawa. The idea is to take the moisture out so that the bread fries crisp and does not absorb a lot of ghee. Cut the brown edges off and cut the bread slices diagonally to make 12 triangles.
Soak the saffron strands in a tablespoon of hot milk.
For the rabdi or condensed milk, first, grind the soaked and peeled almonds with the sugar set aside for the rabdi, cardamom powder, saffron soaked in milk and a quarter cup of milk. The paste should be very smooth. Now boil the three-and-a-half cups of milk and add the paste to it. Keep stirring on a low flame till the milk has reduced to almost two cups. Let it cool.
To make the sugar syrup, add the sugar with the water allocated for the syrup. Heat it till the sugar granules dissolve and it comes to a boil. Take a few drops of this syrup in a small bowl and once it has cooled down, take it between your thumb and index finger. When you pull your fingers apart, the sugar syrup should come apart as a single string. Once this consistency is achieved, add the rose essence.
Next, on a low flame, heat the kadhai, add the ghee reserved for deep-frying the bread. Once it is hot enough, deep-fry the bread till the slices are golden brown on both sides. Set it aside.
Photo: Wikimedia commons
When you have to serve, dip the fried slices in the sugar syrup one by one and pour the rabdi (warm or chilled) over it. Garnish with a generous helping of dry fruits and nuts.
You have the slices of royal heaven ready.