Mangoes and cream sounds as classic a food pairing as peas and carrots, peanut butter and jelly, or spaghetti and meatballs to my ears. This combination lends itself to so many variations, each with its own distinctive character.
The recipe and variations that follow are based on malai aam, a classic Indian dessert of mangoes and cream topped with nuts. It traditionally uses rabadi – milk slowly simmered until reduced to one-fourth its original volume. Sweetened and served as a creamy sauce, rabadi is essential in Indian desserts such as the labor-intensive ras malai, cheese dumplings served with a pistachio cream sauce.
Reading about ras malai in Julie Sahni’s excellent cookbook Classic Indian Cooking, I immediately had a strong urge to try it. Making it myself was not an option because it doesn’t make sense to cook something I’ve never had before. There’s also that little problem with the recipe spanning six pages long, making even the most complex sauces and gravies in the book seem like child’s play.
I consider myself lucky that I live in a city with a thriving Indian community and have access to sweets as boldly flavored as their savory counterparts in curries and dals. A walk down Devon Avenue to hunt for unfamiliar sweets never fails to disappoint — I just point at random things not caring what it is knowing full well that I’ll be surprised and pleased at the same time.
Monthly Mingle 23: Mango Mania hosted by What’s for Lunch Honey?
recipe adapted from Julie Sahni’s Classic Indian Cooking
Mangoes and Cream
makes 8 servings
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 large ripe mangoes
3 tablespoons nuts such as pistachios, almonds, or walnuts, coarsely chopped
- In this base recipe, I suggest using scalded cream instead of rabadi mainly for accessibility. Using cream also opens the recipe up for a number of interesting twists that stays true to the core combination of mangoes, dairy, and nuts.
Scald the heavy cream. Bring the cream to a simmer over low heat and immediately remove from the heat. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Chill in the refrigerator.
Peel and slice the mangoes and put in a shallow bowl. Sprinkle with the chopped nuts and chill.
Serve the mangoes with the cream sauce on the side.
Mangoes and Cream Variations:
- Take time to make the rabadi.
To make 1 cup of rabadi, bring 4 cups of milk to a boil in a wide pan, preferably non-stick. Stir continuously for about 15 minutes using a spatula or wooden spoon. Lower the heat and simmer gently for about 45 minutes, or until the milk is reduced to 1 cup.
- Make Crème Chantilly.
Replace the sugar with 3 tablespoons powdered sugar. Whip the cream and sugar until the desired level texture and airiness is reached. Add a few drops of vanilla extract towards the end of whipping if desired.
- Add a pinch of ground cardamom to the cream while scalding.
- Serve on top of flaky puff pastry.
- Got some gelatin? Make Mango Panna Cotta.
- Douse the mangoes with dark rum and caramelize under a hot broiler.
- Use it as an ice cream base. After scalding the cream, put the cream, sugar, and mangoes in a blender and puree. Let the mixture mature in the refrigerator overnight. The fats from the cream and sugar from the ripe mangoes will give you a fine texture. Add the nuts towards the end of churning.