May 1st, 2008
May is my month! I was born in May not too many years ago, and where I was born in India, this is a hot, Summer month. There, May is also the month of mangoes. If I was in India now, I would be eating a mango with every meal and some in between. I am making May the month of mangoes, with many if not all of my posts dedicated to the “King of Fruits.” This was also the first batch of the mango season which I found ripe and sweet enough in Seattle, so the first dish I made was Mango Shrikhand.Shrikhand(“shree-khund”) is yogurt drained of all its liquid, then sweetened and spiced with any flavors you like. It is not so much an Indian dessert as it is regional, and very popular in my home state of Gujarat. Yogurt itself is widely eaten all over India, especially in Summer because of its cooling properties.
I loved shrikhand so much as a kid that I would eat it plain, even with no fruit, just cardamom. My school was right next door to a big creamery — the largest producer of packaged shrikhand in India (it was like going to school next to Breyers). Once each year the school took us on a field trip, a tour of the shrikhand manufacturing and packaging plant; boy! how I waited for that trip!
Greek Gods is one locally manufactured yogurt that has been perfect for shrikhand. They are available all over the U.S. — try their Store Locator. Greek Gods yogurt is a strained yogurt, so it cuts my shrikhand-making work in half. It is so fresh and high quality that it is the closest thing to the home-made shrikhand I grew up eating! Brown Cow is another one my favorite thick yogurts.
If you can’t find Greek Gods or Brown Cow, for one alternative you can use regular yogurt, with a little more work. You will need to tie it up and hang it in a cheese cloth overnight, to drain the water. Kefir cheese and any other plain, Mediterranean style, strained yogurt will work the best and you may be able to avoid the draining step. Strained yogurts are also manufactured with a higher pectin content, so they will require less sugar than a regular yogurt you strain at home.
2 cups Greek Gods plain yogurt
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/2 tspn ground cardamom (I’ve seen people over-do this lately and it kills me! Don’t use too much cardamom.)
2-3 tbspn crushed nuts
1 ripe and diced Ataulfo mango (Mango tip for Seattleites: Ballard Town & Country has had a few amazing batches, but you’ve got to pick them properly! Ataulfo are currently in season and widely available … please leave some for me ;)
1. Take the yogurt in a medium bowl and hand-beat with a whisk, till it is nice and smooth. It takes about 3 minutes.
2. Mix in the sugar next. Taste it! If it tastes acidic or “too yogurty,” you need more sugar! 1/2 cup is what I needed to turn this yogurt into Shrikhand, you might need more or less.
3. Add the cardamom and mix.
4. Cover and refrigerate. It will solidify slightly, too.
5. Right before serving, top with nuts and mangoes.