Festive Puddings

Enjoy nutritious desi desserts this Christmas without worrying about the calories

Posted: 23.12.14

It's that time of year when you can't help but indulge in yummy food and sweet delights. But since most desi desserts are laden in ghee and other calorific ingredients, it's hard not to resist these decadent treats. Since we want to avoid adding to the post-festive period lull by beginning our year spending hours at the gym, Mira Manek (pictured) has created some delicious and innovative recipes of spice-inspired desserts. These delicacies are made with enough goodness so that we don't feel guilty when scoffing, whilst also allowing our tastebuds to be tantalised and treated to sumptuous and divine flavours. 



Festive date truffles (Makes 10 balls)
Date and almond butter truffles with cinnamon and turmeric covered in raw chocolate and coconut flakes

Rich in iron and fibre, dates are a great source of energy and strength, while almond butter, made entirely of almonds, is high in protein and calcium. What really makes these truffles unique and perfect for the colder months is the addition of the warming, healing and flu-fighting turmeric, just enough to add goodness, but not so much that the truffles taste bitter. Lastly, the chocolate I’ve used to dip these in with is made with raw coconut cream and sweetened with coconut sugar, full of absolute goodness. You can use any chocolate you like, of course!

15 dates
4 -5 tablespoons almond butter (or any nut butter of your choice)
¼ teaspoon turmeric (add less if you prefer)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons almond milk
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 small bar of Ombar Coco Mylk chocolate (35g)
2-3 tablespoons fine coconut flakes
1 small bar of Ombar Coco Mylk chocolate (35g)
2-3 tablespoons fine coconut flakes

Combine together the dates, almond butter, turmeric, cinnamon, almond milk and coconut oil in a high-speed blender and let this blend until smooth. The almond milk and coconut oil help to create a paste; if still not blending, add a little more almond milk. Once a thick paste has formed, you can start rolling into balls between your palms. Now let the chocolate melt in a bowl inside a pan of boiling water. Dip each truffle in the chocolate sauce and leave on a plate. You can either roll these chocolate-covered truffles in coconut flakes immediately or after leaving the truffles in the fridge for just a few minutes. Leave these in the fridge until ready to serve.

Rice & Quinoa Kheer (Serves 4-6)
Saffron rice & quinoa pudding

With endless health and beauty benefits, the delicate golden saffron strands are one of the most powerful and one of the most expensive spices in the world. The sight of saffron itself, its deep red golden hues, exudes luxury and emanates a calming earthy smell. During the winter, saffron can help clear phlegm from the lungs and aid recovery, and further improve blood circulation. And the versatility of this sacred spice means that it can be used to flavour both savoury and sweet dishes, it can be used both in making tea and served in cold milks. Remember, a little saffron goes a long way. A mere pinch will flavour, colour and enrich the dish all at once.

50g rice
25g quinoa
250-300ml water
300ml almond milk
inch of saffron (around 15 strands)
¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
5-7 tablespoons honey/ agave syrupChopped almonds and pistachios, for garnishing
Chopped almonds and pistachios, for garnishing

Boil the rice and quinoa together on low heat for 20-30 minutes, until the rice grains are soft. Add the almond milk, saffron and cardamom powder when most of the water has evaporated and start stirring. Use a hand whisk or fork and mix in quick circular motions to break some of the rice grains. Let the mixture boil for another 5-10 minutes until thicker. You can serve this dish hot or cold and garnish with chopped almonds and pistachios.

Saffron milk with chia seeds (Serves 4)

600ml almond milk
Pinch of saffron (around 15 strands)
¼ teaspoon or less cardamom powder
20g (3 tablespoons) chia seeds
150-200ml water
3-4 tablespoons honey / agave
Chopped almonds and pistachios, for garnishing

Heat the saffron in the almond milk until the colour is a strong yellow, then add cardamom and agave or honey. At the same time, boil the chia seeds in water in a separate pan, adding more water if required, until the chia seeds swell and form a gel-like consistency. Once the almond milk is boiled a few times and seems slightly thicker, pour into cups or glasses and stir in a teaspoon of the chia seeds. Leave in the fridge and garnish with a few chopped almonds and pistachios before serving.

Rose Falooda bites (Makes around 15 pieces)
These little bites of sweet almond milk are delightfully light and a simple yet flavourful addition to your dessert display. The milk is thickened and set using agar-agar, the vegetarian alternative to gelatin. The enriching hint of rose inside is complemented beautifully by the rose petal embellishments on the surface, and the slight crunch of nuts provides a wonderful variety of textures.

300ml almond milk
1 teaspoon agar-agar powder
4 tablespoons agave syrup
¼ teaspoon (5-6 drops) rose essence
For garnishing:
Rose petals
Pinch of cardamom powder
Almond and pistachio pieces, finely chopped

Boil the almond milk in a pan on low heat. Now mix the agar-agar in one tablespoon of water and add to the almond milk while it is boiling. Keep stirring as the milk thickens (around 5-10 minutes). Now add in the agave syrup and rose essence and mix well. Pour into a shallow plate or individual dessert bowls and after a few minutes (before it starts to set), garnish with torn rose petals, a sprinkling of cardamom powder and finely chopped almond and pistachio pieces. Leave in the fridge to set – this should take 30-45 minutes, but you can also eat during the next few days. Using a knife, cut into diagonal pieces and serve.

For more recipes and info on the release of Mira’s book Green Daal Stories:
Mira Manek
Instagram: @miramanek
Twitter: @miramanek 

Fariha Sabir

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