Imagine this. A dessert so luscious and so delightful, that you savor the taste and texture long after it’s all gone. And even better, what if I told it takes less than 5 minutes of hands-on time?
Meet bhapa doi, a traditional Bengali dessert which is nothing but a sweet yogurt pudding. Bengali cuisine is famous for their delectable desserts, most of which are made with a minimal number of ingredients.
Desserts and sweets made with milk and milk products are synonymous with Bengali cuisine. I have always wanted to try making mishti doi, a sweetened yogurt (doi) which involves simmering and reducing sweetened milk, adding yogurt cultures, and setting it at just the right temperature and environment. Bhapa doi is a similar dessert, but involves the additional step of steaming the mixture to make a thick pudding. The exact process is quite ambiguous. And if you were in India, you would buy your sweets and snacks from the friendly neighborhood halwai (sweetmeats seller) and rarely must bother to master them on your own.
So, what’s one to do when you do not have a halwai at your disposal, and would like to have this delicious dessert without much effort? You resort to shortcuts like using canned condensed milk, for starters. A quick google search let me know I wasn’t alone in this quest for easy and fast bhapa doi recipes. It seems condensed milk, evaporated milk and strained yogurt are all it takes to whip up this beauty. You could steam it, bake it in a water bath or even microwave it.
I used a tin of condensed milk and added enough Greek yogurt till I was satisfied with the sweetness. A little bit of whisking and pouring into ramekins were the only effort involved. Yes, less than 5 minutes. If I mastered the art of opening cans in under a flash, I’m pretty sure I could shave a precious few minutes off my record!
As they baked in a bain marie, I began to think that maybe it was all too easy to be true. Maybe I needed to dress it up a little. So I made a thick sauce or coulis out of ruby-red pomegranates that I picked up at the store the other day. Pomegranates are such an under-rated and under-used autumn fruit.
The way I figured, the poms would be perfect and not too overpowering here, the juicy arils providing a nice contrast with the sweet yogurt. I threw in some chopped nuts and dried rose petals as well, and literally polished off one bowl before I even thought about taking the pictures for this post!
I also experimented a little by trying to brulee sugar on top of the pudding as well. I used my oven’s broiler and the sugar turned out chewy and browned rather than glass-like, but it was actually good. I was in sugar heaven!
And when I took this dessert out later that evening, the guys of the house oohed and aahed and devoured it all. Boy said it tasted like cheesecake and I let him believe that. I mean, why burst his bubble by telling him it was just baked yogurt, right?! And he was right. The pudding was smooth, silky and simply melted in our mouths!
November is going to be one hectic month around here. What with preparing to gorge on delicious Indian sweets for Diwali and later on, stuffing ourselves silly with Thanksgiving dinner, I figured I’ll be making this easy dessert again very soon. And I hope you will too. It can be as fancy or as simple as you like it to be. Top the pudding with the fruit coulis or leave it out. As a cheat’s fix, you can simply top it with fresh fruits. Mangoes and berries would be gorgeous in summer, segments of sweet oranges will do for winter. Or simply toss in a handful of nuts and enjoy. I love desserts that let me play around so much!
This makes for a great make-ahead dessert, so it’s excellent for entertaining. Make large portions or tiny ones or bake it as one big pudding, cut and serve as you see fit. This modern version of bhapa doi or baked yogurt pudding can be whipped up in a jiffy, leaving you more time to spend with your loved ones. After all, there’s nothing worse than slaving over a stove on a holiday, right?
- Condensed milk - 1 cup
- Greek yogurt - 1½ cups
- Cornstarch - 1 tsp (optional)
- Milk - 1 tbsp (optional)
- Pomegranate - 1, large
- Water - ¼ cup (or as needed)
- Sugar - 2 tbsp (or as needed)
- Lemon juice - 1 tsp
- Cornstarch - 1 tsp
- Almonds and cashew nuts - a small handful, crushed
- Dried rose petals - a few
- Bhapa Doi (Baked Yogurt Pudding): Pre-heat the oven to 300 deg.F. Boil water in a kettle for the bain marie. Line a large baking pan with a folded kitchen towel and set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the condensed milk and Greek yogurt. Mix the cornstarch in milk and add to the mixture. Mix well so that no lumps remain. (The cornstarch is totally optional, but it helps to ensure a well-set pudding).
- Divide yogurt mixture among four large ramekins or 6-8 smaller ones. Place ramekins in the prepared baking pan and fill with hot water so that it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. (The kitchen towel under the ramekins will keep them from sliding around in the hot water.)
- Bake for 30-35 minutes or till yogurt is set, but slightly jiggly in the center.
- Remove and cool down to room temperature. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. This keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of days.
- Pomegranate coulis: Prepare pomegranate coulis when yogurt is in the oven. Dissolve cornstarch in a tablespoon of water and set side.
- Remove the pomegranate arils and blend them together. Add enough water to make at least a cup of juice. Strain this mixture and discard the seeds.
- Take pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, add the cornstarch slurry and simmer for 4-5 minutes or till sauce thickens slightly. Taste and adjust sweetness accordingly.
- Cool this down and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator till needed.
- Serving bhapa doi: To serve the pudding, top each ramekin with some of the pomegranate coulis, some crushed nuts and rose petals. Enjoy!
2. You can flavor bhapa doi by adding cardamom powder or a little bit of saffron steeped in warm milk. You can also add some fruit pulp (mangoes work best) to make fruit flavored bhapa doi.
3. Instead of preparing a fruit coulis or sauce, you can top the pudding with chopped fresh fruits of choice. You can also top the pudding with just nuts and maybe even saffron.
Bhapa doi is delicious on its own, but the little extra effort spent on making a fruit sauce really takes it to another level. And when it is festival season, we all know how important dressing up is, so why not dress up our food too?!!
So, tell me, how are you preparing for the upcoming festive season? Have you tried your hand at any traditional recipes? Do try this jazzed-up super easy recipe for bhapa doi or baked yogurt pudding and let me know how you like it. It is truly a dessertoholic’s dream come true!
Don’t forget to PIN it for later. You can also find more festive Indian sweet recipes on the blog.
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