I would like to wish everyone a very blessed Eid. Eid is a time for family, friends, and celebrations and I hope all of you are fortunate enough to be close to your loved ones. Usually, we eat meat that has been slaughtered in a ritual sacrifice. We prepare dishes like yakhni pulao (meat stock based rice pilaf), kharay masalay ka gosht (meat cooked with whole garam masala pieces), karahi gosht (a tomato/chili based meat dish), and many more. Unfortunately, this is not a vegetarian friendly holiday, I suppose it could be though.
However, meat is not the only focus. Desserts are prepared in copious amounts. Kheer (rice pudding), sewayyan (sweetened vermicelli), zarda sweetened rice) are part of the dessert spread. Yes, we are very serious about food and prepare a feast even if it’s just for your immediate family.
One of my favorite Pakistani desserts is Shahi Tukray. Let me tell you, it is literally heaven. Fried bread slices soaked in a sugar syrup infused with saffron and cardamom and then dunked into a rich and creamy milk pudding, so good. So, so good. Usually, I don’t swoon like this for other Pakistani desserts, sure I like them, but for me, Shahi Tukray are on a completely other level. It’s almost like you take a bite and you are so consumed in the utter deliciousness that you can’t think for a minute. Or maybe I’m just an odd one and this is only the case for me. Regardless, this dessert is befitting to its name, which means royal pieces or morsels.
I added a twist to the recipe here, being Autumn I thought pumpkin might work in this dish. I added pumpkin purée to the rabri (reduced milk pudding) and the combination of pumpkin with cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves (the last two another nontraditional addition of mine) was divine. Of course, if you want to stay true to the original leave the pumpkin out, but I really enjoyed this new combination.
Eid Mubarak and even if you don’t celebrate, find some Muslim friends and I’m sure they would be more than happy to include you in their celebrations and share the yummy food with you.
Shahi Tukray with Pumpkin
2 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half
1 cup canned pure pumpkin purée
2/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3-4 whole cloves
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
5 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
a nice pinch of saffron threads
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup canola oil or clarified butter, for frying (you might need slightly more oil/clarified butter, but I try to use as little as possible)
1 loaf (8-10 slices) day-old country-style white bread, crusts removed (optional) and cut into 2 pieces on the diagonal
edible silver leaf, for garnish (optional)
1/2 cup toasted and chopped mixed nuts-pistachios and almonds with skin, for garnish
fresh whipped cream, for garnish
cinnamon powder, for garnish
softened butter, for greasing the baking dish
In a medium-sized saucepan on medium heat, bring the milk, half and half, cardamom powder, 2 cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cloves, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and pumpkin to a simmer. Mix the ingredients every minute or so.
Once the milk/cream mixture comes to a simmer turn the heat to low and let the mixture thicken to the consistency of a loose pudding/custard. Keep stirring every few minutes so that the cream does not burn. This should take 35-45 minutes. Once the milk/cream mixture is done, remove the cinnamon stick, cloves, and cardamom pods.
While the milk/cream mixture is simmering, make the sugar syrup by combining the remaining sugar, water, saffron threads, and 3 cardamom pods in a small saucepan on medium-low heat. The syrup will be done once the sugar and water have dissolved into a uniform liquid after about 10 minutes. Leave the sugar syrup on low heat until the milk/cream mixture is done.
At this point preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and butter an 8″x8″ inch baking dish.
Once the cream mixture and sugar syrup are done, start frying the bread triangles in a fry pan on medium heat with the oil or clarified butter until all the pieces are golden brown on both sides. Lay the bread on paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
Once all the bread pieces are fried, dip each bread piece into the sugar syrup then into the milk/cream mixture so that the bread is coated well and then arrange the bread into the baking dish. I like to arrange the bread on the diagonal. Repeat this until you have used up all the fried bread.
Next, take any remaining milk/cream mixture and pour it over the bread slices in the pan and use a rubber spatula to make the top smooth.
Bake the bread slices in the oven for 15 minutes or until the top just starts to slightly turn golden.
Remove from the oven and garnish with the chopped nuts and silver leaf, if you are using it.
Serve with fresh whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon, if you like. I like to eat it right from the oven but it can also be eaten at room temperature or even chilled.
*This can be made a day in advance and baked the day of serving.
I also posted this recipe on food52 here.