Kolkata is a place in my heart which I don’t call home, it is a known place for me, where the familiarity in the language makes me feel closer to the city. As a Bengali from Delhi the way I have related to the city culture, is through its food. In my family, this food from Kolkata and part of Dhaka has been changed by three generations of my family living outside Kolkata but is still familiar in spices, if not the taste and the occasions during which the food is served.
While, on a trip to Kolkata in December I picked up a slab of patali gur. Patali Gur, a type of jaggery made of dates, available in the local markets during the winter months gives sweets a different flavour of sweetness. This gur was kept at my house for making ‘payesh’ during my childhood years on birthdays. The hours my mother spent her hard earned weekend over the stove to reduce the full cream milk into the concoction which I savoured till my early adult years. After I left home, the ritualistic payesh making became redundant due to my father’s diabetes, and my brother and I taking the responsibility of baking cakes on birthdays to fit into our mother’s shoes, taking on duties of pleasing family members on their birthdays at sometimes our parent’s anniversary.
However, baking and looking at desserts for a while made me think of making the beloved payesh, a little differently. Now, that my family and friends are all above the eligible drinking age it also made sense to add some zing to it for that extra fun especially during one’s birthday (or anniversary). In January a dear friend while visiting me from the UK brought me some rum (which I fell in love with) and decided that these can be combined into something which close drunken friends and well-wishers will appreciate.
Paatali Gur and Rum Crème Caramel
- 6 egg yolks
- 200 ml heavy cream
- ¾ cups of skim milk
- ¼ cup of shredded patali gur
- 60 ml of rum (I used Captain Morgan Black Rum)
In a heavy bottom pan over medium heat, melt in the patali gur, make sure the patali gur does not burn, if you think it might just put the heat on low. Once the gur has caramelised pour in the cream. A little word of caution, it will bubble up and thus make sure you are ready for all the steam and heat once you are pouring in the cream, stir it constantly till all the gur has dissolved into the cream. Switch off the heat and add the milk. Mix well. Whisk the egg yolks in a separate bowl, add a ladle full of the cream mixture and stir, add another ladle of the cream mixture and mix. Pour the egg mixture to the whole cream mixture and mix till everything is incorporated well. We do not pour the egg yolks directly into the cram mixture to prevent it from scrambling.
Once this is done pour in the mixture into ceramic ramekins. Put in the ramekins in a cake tin which will fit all your ramekins. Pout in lukewarm water till the half of the ramekin and bake in the oven for about 45-50 minutes at 150 degrees centigrade. Once you take out the ramakins, if the custard jiggles too much (when you jiggle them) then it needs a few more minutes in the oven. If the custard jiggles only in the centre, it is ready to be refrigerated.
Refrigerate the custard for at least four hours. It can be served alone or with some saffron caramel if you want to get your fancy pants on!
- ½ cup Castor Sugar
- 15-20 strands of Saffron
- Butter Paper
Put on the Castor Sugar and Saffron in a thick bottom pan on medium flame. There would be this amazing saffron smell in your kitchen, so enjoy it. Make sure that the saffron does not burn by moving the caramel around the pan (but not with a spoon, it might make the sugar crystallise). One the caramel has a deep golden colour, with the help of a spoon, you can make various shapes on a butter paper and let it cool. Refrigerate for about 20 minutes and put on your crème caramel for garnish.