A super easy recipe for a festive dessert turning the traditional Maharashtrian milk pudding, Basundi into the popular Italian Panna Cotta. Its a perfect dessert for entertaining during the Indian holiday season, including Navaratri and Diwali.
The Indian holiday season is in full swing and the 10th day of the Navratri festival, Dasara or Dussehra is almost here! When it comes to this big day at the culmination of the nine day long festival, I have to follow my childhood tradition and make myself some decadent,basundi, spiced milk pudding. It is a very simple and humble dessert from my home state in India, Maharashtra. It is prepared by boiling and reducing milk to half of its original quantity. Sugar is then added to the reduced milk along with spices like ground cardamom, ground nutmeg and crushed saffron strands. The spiced and reduced milk is then chilled for a couple of hours to make a thick and creamy milk pudding.
Italian Spin on Maharashtrian Basundi
This year, I decided to put an Italian spin on the traditional Maharashtrian creamy milk-based dessert by transforming it into a Panna Cotta, the popular Italian dessert made with sweetened cream, thickened and set with gelatin. Basundi, the creamy spiced milk pudding, is a perfect candidate for this delightful Italian makeover!
My Recipe for Basundi Panna Cotta
Basundi is made by reducing full-fat or whole milk, and panna cotta is usually made with a combination of heavy cream and milk. For my recipe, I used half heavy cream and half whole milk to achieve the right consistency for my fusion dessert idea. You can also use half-and-half, which is available in grocery stores for adding to your tea or coffee.
In my recipe, I infuse the half-and-half mixture of heavy cream and milk with the traditional spices used to flavor basundi – ground cardamom, ground nutmeg, and saffron. To turn the infused cream-milk mixture into panna cotta, I use agar agar powder, a vegetarian substitute for gelatin derived from red algae. This keeps the dessert recipe vegetarian and also aligns with the dietary preferences for traditional Indian festivities.
A Delightful Dessert for the Festive Season
Just like the traditional basundi, I finish the panna cotta by topping it with saffron strands and charoli or chironji, almond-flavored seeds that are commonly used in Indian sweets and have a texture similar to pine nuts. After chilling in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, it’s ready to serve!
So, this festive season, give my super easy recipe a try and impress your family and friends with a delightful dessert…no pun intended! I’ve linked a short video below that I put together for you that you can follow and easily whip up this signature concoction in your own kitchen.
Charoli or chironji are lentil-sized seeds that are commonly used in Indian sweets. They have an almond like flavor and possess a texture similar to pine nuts. They are available in Indian stores or on Amazon. If you can’t find them, you can use toasted sliced or slivered almonds.
Make ahead Recipe
You can make the dessert ahead of time. Cover each bowl or ramekin with a plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 72 hours.
Once the spiced milk mixture is slightly cooled, you can stir in ¼ cup of mango pulp. Adjust sugar accordingly.
Hi I’m Vasanti
…and I ❤️cooking ‘n clicking!!
I share a modern take on Indian cuisine made using nontraditional techniques and ingredients, while staying true to its authenticity. You’ll also find classic recipes from my beloved Maharashtrian culture and heritage.