Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Sikarni - (yogurt, saffron, pistachio dessert)

Sikarni - (सिकर्नी) - Saffron-Pistachio Sikarni from Kathmandu

...Brighten your day by sampling the most delicious sikarni of Nepal ...from my mother's kitchen ...
Let's Celebrate Nepali culture this week by preparing the most loved yogurt desert of Nepal that we lovingly call it सिकर्नी - sikarni, pronounced, "see-kar-nee." Simple but elegant, sikarni is an exceptionally full-flavored, delicate, and creamy dessert made from drained yogurt, sweetened with sugar, flavored with saffron-green cardamom and sprinkled with chopped pistachios.  This savory desert was made lovingly by my mother regularly when growing up in Kathmandu with my siblings in the heart of the city.  It's probably where it originates too, in the Kathmandu Valley.  The sikarni was so delicious, and we savored spoonfuls at a time, sometimes with freshly cut-up tree-ripened mangoes, or just about any other seasonal fruits, or simply chopped nuts. This classic recipe was passed down from my mother, and I have been making it for festive occasions and family get together ever since.  

Sikarni is a versatile dish that takes on the flavor of whatever it is mixed with such as ground nuts, flavorful spices such as nutmeg and ground cardamom or any other ingredients of your choice, and let your creativity run wild to give a new twist to the dish.  Adjust its sweetness by using more or less sugar to suit your taste.  Refrigerate it for up to four days in an airtight container.

To celebrate and honor Mother's Day, (May 9 - Nepali Matha Tirtha Aunsi) and (May 11- USA) this week, I would like to share this recipe in my blog. It is such an easy and simple desert with a great taste that comes from simple ingredients.  It is definitely worth trying and I hope it becomes a traditional yogurt desert in your family too!

To get started, all you need is yogurt, sugar, cardamom, saffron, and chopped nuts.  I usually make my own home-made yogurt from one gallon milk, but you can use two 32-oz container of store-bought yogurt.  Here are my directions... Homemade Yogurt (page 394 - Taste of Nepal cookbook) or two 32 oz containers of ready-made yogurt, 1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, plus 8 to 10 saffron threads for garnish, 2 tablespoons milk, 1 cup of sugar or to taste, Seeds of 8 to 10 green cardamom pods, finely ground with a mortar and pestle, 1/2 cup raw pistachios, coarsely chopped.

Directions - line a large colander with 3 layers of cheesecloth or muslin cloth.  Place the yogurt in the colander and bring the corners of the cheesecloth together to form a bag.  Set the colander with the yogurt over a large bowl, and drain whey.  Make sure the bottom of the colander is high enough, so the yogurt does not get touched the drained whey.  Place the colander and bowl in the refrigerator and check in a few hours to make sure the whey has not reached the colander.  Depending on the fit of your colander and bowl, you may need to remove the whey once or twice as the yogurt continues to drain. 

To facilitate the draining, adjust the bag, shifting it about and turning it upside-down in the colander from time to time.  Drain until the yogurt reduces to about half its original volume, or until it resembles soft cream cheese.  This may take 12-14 hours.

Gently crush 1/8 teaspoon of saffron with mortar and pestle.  Dissolve in the milk and set aside.

Remove the yogurt from the cheesecloth and transfer to a bowl.  Add the saffron-infused milk, sugar, and cardamom seeds and beat until light and creamy.  Stir in 1/4 cup of the chopped pistachios.  Transfer the mixture to a decorative platter, sprinkle with the remaining chopped pistachios and saffron thread.  Serve it immediately or cover and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.  Sikarni keeps covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.  If any whey rises to the surface, stir to incorporate it into the yogurt mixture. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

From Jyoti's kitchen - my favorite desert sikarni - pamper your taste buds!
.... using my home-made yogurt for sikarni ..
... scooping out the yogurt and pouring in a cloth-lined colander...
... traditional way of straining yogurt through cheesecloth to remove the whey ...
....removing the collected thickened yogurt and transferring  into a bowl - a little lengthy process to drain the whey
... getting ready to mix the nuts with drained yogurt
... coarsely grinding a small amount of nuts in a mortar and pestle and the green cardamom seeds is getting ready to be grind into fine powder.
....saffron strands mixed with warm milk in a mortar and pestle to dissolve, which will impart golden hue and delicious flavor to yogurt dish, sikarni ...
... the drained yogurt is ready - it should be a little thinner than cream cheese, but thicker than sour cream. Beat the yogurt until well blended, smooth and a little fluffy ...
... transfer into a serving dish and mix with saffron infused milk and chopped nuts
... sprinkle the chopped pistachios on top to garnish
... here is the picture of simple and scrumptious yogurt dessert, sikarni eaten at the end of a Nepali meal.  Have friends and family come over to enjoy!
As a variation - serving the creamy sikarni dessert,  mixed with pureed mango pulp in an individual bowls topped with a cherry in the middle.
Another picture of sikarni with chopped fruits and nuts in an individual bowl.
Freshly cut mangoes getting ready to be mixed up with sikarni
... making individual desserts cups by spooning mango-sikarni mixture, topped with chopped nuts into parfait glass bowl.
... mouthwatering dessert just looking at it.  Make sure to cool it, before serving!
Authentic and simple yoghurt sikarni from my mother's kitchen...
No matter what your favorite fruits are - mangoes, banana, pomegranates, strawberries, lichees, berries - just add the chopped fruits in a decorative bowl, scoop sikarni yogurt dessert as a delicious topping with chopped nuts as a garnish.

I hope you enjoyed my blog posting on Sikarni dessert of Nepal, specially prepared for Mother's Day - शुभ-कामना आमालाई! 
Happy Mother's Day In Different Languages

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  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. i absolutely love this dessert. i will be trying it out soon

  3. Very informative, delicious recipe

  4. do i have to dry roast cashews, almonds and pistachios?

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. in which nepalese restaurant can i get this dish ?