Living the Good Life…

My food blog & cookbook in progress

Steamed yoghurt pudding

Here is my version of a steamed Bengali dessert that they call bhapa doi. It’s a slightly more labor intensive process than simply whipping cream and yogurt/labneh together and serving with fruit, but it’s richer and well yes, fancier too. But oh sooo…. good. Naturally, this one is dedicated to Yasir*…

The main ingredient is yogurt, although I find using labneh, which is strained yogurt after all and reasonably easily available in Egypt, is a fantastic way to shorten the whole process and save dirtying the hard-to-clean strainer. But if labneh is hard to find or if the Blue Nile (my grocery store in Cairo) decides to stop stocking it, I just start with a large container of yogurt and strain it through muslin on a sieve. If I do use labneh (two of the smaller-sized Pinar-brand boxes) then I keep a couple of small individual containers of yogurt handy.

I find it convenient to work directly in the container in which I plan to do the steaming and eventually serving. It saves the bother of scraping and transferring and you waste much less of the good stuff.  A heatproof glass or earthenware dish that can fit properly into a larger pot is best. Best to avoid metal I think. A few times I’ve made there directly in individual ceramic and earthenware bowls. It requires more steaming assemblies but  the steaming time is much shorter.

Speaking of which, begin by setting up the steaming assembly, basically bring water to boil in a large container and then turning to a low heat (Bain Marie) once the water is heated. Make sure the container is large enough to fit the bowl and also to remove it after the steaming is done. If you have an electrical contraption to do this, hey, more power to you!

In goes the yogurt/labneh and next is the sweetening ingredient. Sweetened condensed milk (warning use carefully lest things get over-sweet) is a very good option and helps stabilize the mixture during steaming, especially if you’re using yogurt. It is also the easiest to use. Honey is a tastier, more interesting option, but if you are using just yogurt, there is a greater chance for curdling. I’ve also used what they call black honey or ‘asl aswid’ here in Egypt. Things taste more caramelized. I haven’t tried maple syrup yet but that’s only because I’ve only been making this dessert with any regularity since coming to Egypt. Whip the yogurt and sweet stuff together until thoroughly blended, stirring in your preferred flavour ingredient/s – vanilla, powdered cinnamon, cardamom  –  as well. Choose your spice to complement the fruits you are planning to serve.

Once done (taste to ensure the right proportion remembering that sweetness will intensify with the steaming) fold some heavy or double cream – unwhipped – to the mixture. This is especially useful if you are using honey. Wipe the edges so that you don’t end up with streaks melted on to the pan.

Now for the fruit accompaniment. If you are planning to use fresh fruit – mangoes are yum, summer berries work wonderfully as well – you don’t need to do anything at this stage. Same with using whole stewed fruit (plumping up dried apricots or figs in wine works wonderfully). However, I find that dried fruit like apricots or cherries also work nicely if stirred into the mixture and allowed to steam with the pudding. The process softens the fruit nicely almost as if they were being stewed.

Lower the dish into the Bain-Marie/steam assembly and allow to heat until set . Don’t let the water boil else the mixture might curdle. After 45 minutes over gentle heat, take it off the heat, allow to cool and then chill in the fridge. Top with stewed/fresh fruit and serve. It should have the consistency of a cheese cake.

Sometimes if you let the water boil, the mixture may shrink a bit and exude more liquid and appear to curdle slightly. No worries it’s still yummy. Actually the one time that happened, I was able to invert the dish on to a platter (a much wider platter and it helps if it has a slight rim) and let it sit that way in the fridge overnight. The whole thing settled down onto the platter like a cheese cake and the liquid drained away. It actually ended up richer.

*Second dedication: So Yasir was my first dedicatee (is that a word?) for this dessert, but he needs to share honours with two others after all. Louise for one and Duncan the other.  All three of you, think of me when you make it and enjoy.

**A variation P.S in 2016: Tried this with a combination of cottage cheese made smooth in the blender along with sour cream  instead of the yogurt or labneh. Ricotta should work equally well I think. A jammy plum compote in wine was the accompaniment. Pleased to report success

1 Comment»

  South meets south | Living the Good Life… wrote @

[…] give yet another dairy punch, small pots of either bhapa-dohi with peaches, or chilled masala chai flavored baked […]


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