Yes, it’s been a while since I visited the by-lanes of curry-cousin land, and how I have missed the heady aroma of recipes …. A strange mix of circumstances have prevented me from taking a more active part. Time has just flown, and in a blink of an eye, days have turned into weeks . Meanwhile my little sister has tackled her food demons and come out a winner. Iced cakes, jams, preserves, and even your own food business.. I couldn’t be more proud of you. Yes, I’m definitely trying to sweet talk you into forgiving me . And as an atonement for deserting you, I am making a comeback with a dessert! And not just any old dessert, but a deliciously divine vegetarian cheesecake with yummy fruit.
An interesting thing about this cheesecake is that it is made with home made ingredients that I have substituted for conventional store bought ones. You know here we don’t get cream cheese or mascarpone or just about anything! After this recipe you could call me the queen of substitutions ! Also instead of a large single cake I have made individual servings. You can divide or multiply the ingredients according to your need.
Ingredients ( for generous 5 servings)
For the cream cheese
Hung curd ( made from 400gm curd/yogurt )
Fresh paneer (from 1large cup of milk)
Fresh cream (or malai ) 2-3tsp
Powdered sugar 3-4 tsp
A few drops vanilla extract
Rind of one lemon
For the crumb base
Digestive biscuits 10 (crushed)
Butter ( melted) 75gm
Pulp of 3 mangoes
Sugar to taste
Few drops of lemon juice
( boil the pulp and sugar till a little thick. Add lemon juice and remove from heat. Pour into clean jar. Refrigerate for upto two weeks. Extra can be used as spread or jam)
2 kiwi diced Sugar to taste
(Same as mango sauce.)
Tip: In both the fruit sauces, I have added just a little amount of sugar because I wanted to retain the tang of the fruit. Adding too much sugar will also make the pulp jammy when cooked.
For the cheese
Hang the curd overnight or a few hours in a muslin cloth till all the whey runs out.
For the paneer
Boil milk, add a few tsps of sour curd/ 1 tsp vinegar. The milk solids will coagulate. Hang this in a muslin cloth and squeeze out the whey.
Mix the hung curd and paneer. If it’s grainy, pass it through a sieve or blend. Add the sugar, lemon rind, vanilla and fresh cream. Refrigerate.
Tip : After adding the fresh cream don’t beat too much or the cream can curdle. You can also flavour the cream cheese with fruit pulp, chocolate or any other essence of your liking.
For the crumbs
Put the biscuits in a plastic bag and smash with a rolling pin till you get fine crumbs. Tip this into a bowl. Add melted butter. If a fistful keeps its shape then its done. Otherwise add a little more butter. Divide into five portions and line the bottom of the serving glasses with this. You will have to pat it down with your fingertips. Refrigerate.
Tip : I have used digestive biscuits. You can use any other type of crisp sweet biscuit. Ginger biscuits are also a great option.
Assembling the cheesecake
After half an hour of refrigeration, take out the glasses with the crumb lining. Layer with cream cheese. Add two tsp of mango sauce. Then another layer of cream cheese. Finally the kiwi sauce. And garnish with fresh kiwi. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Tip : You can use any fruit that you like in place of mango and kiwi. For me it is always a question of availability. You can also use chocolate. Don’t make the cream cheese over sweet, as the sauces add both a tang and sweetness.
This turned out to be a heavenly dessert which had my son exclaiming that I should join masterchef and my husband (who had fever) said that it made him forget his illness! So all in all, an excellent first try. I’ll be making this again. Definitely. Do try this for your vegetarian friends. I’m sure it will be a great hit with them too.