Litchi/Lychee Pannacotta With Mango Jelly

In my house, invariably,desserts were only made on festivals when store bought sweets did not qualify pure enough to be offered to God as prasad [offerings].Simple things like rice pudding, seviyan or at the most ladoos[sweet flour balls].On festival day,mom used to wash whole kitchen early in the morning, cooking utensils & stove were separate, and each ingredient was fresh bought or plucked from the vegetable garden.My grandmother used to take bath before sun-rise,wrapped herself in a thin, crisp cotton saree and made exotic smelling kheers or halwa.Her hands with blue veins shuddering under the skin never seemed to give up on the constant stirring required by these sweets.It looked as if  all her faith translated into those pots simmering on the stove.

Other than those religious occasions I never really saw women in my family breaking their head over desserts.Mainly because they were usually so exhausted after making the entire meal for a big joint family as ours that desserts were often store – bought.Since sweets and desserts are mostly interchangeable in India,those would perfectly suffice.If not sweets, good old ice cream scoops were served in pretty goblets to bring out the homely feel.As a result of all this, my dessert making skills remained quite lame.When I shifted here after the wedding,once P invited some of his co workers for dinner on a weekend.I planned the whole menu but when it came to choosing a dessert, I was stranded.Here there were no aggarwal sweet homes  just next door which could hand over a box of delicious looking sweets to me to serve to my guests. Ice cream would look  too casual,I thought.I wasnt much aware of the bakeries around coz we didn’t have a vehicle then to explore the city and our visits were limited to grocery stores and back.I didnt have a blog either, so this community of foodies was all alien to me.My first foray into making a dessert were these homemade chocolate cups with the help of my neighbour.

Its been a long time since then but deciding on a dessert still leaves me scratching my head.My personal feel is that it takes an extra effort and artful visualization to prevent your dessert from looking sloppy.Also, I m not much familiar with all these different kinds of desserts all the world over, you can infer that from the fact that I learnt the difference between a mousse and a soufflé 6 months back.And panncotta much later.I did take little extra efforts to make this pannacotta look beautiful.We were serving it to P’s boss afterall :)

When I saw this pannacotta recipe at the source mentioned below what caught my eye besides use of litchi [lychee] was that the recipe did not use a drop of cream, an offset from the regular pannacotta.What could be more healthy than that?I knew I had to make it.Since I did not have any guavas on hand, I used mangoes to keep the tropical flavors alive.I had little inhibitions about combining litchi with milk but viola..what a yum dessert. I had fun while trying to set the pannacotta & jelly in the refrigerator with creating layers and all.This takes a lot of time & patience but the swirly result comes out looking good.One more thing – Lychees are called litchis in India, so I cant help but use the same lingo.P who is otherwise not a fan of jelly, found it- AWESOME. All in all, if you want tropical, rich& luscious flavors to do a happy dance on your taste buds, this is the apt dessert for you.Below goes the recipe.See the notes at the end.

Litchi Pannacotta [Serves 4-5]

Printable Recipe

Recipe adapted from The Culinary Chronicles

1 20oz can lychees [substitute with fresh pitted litchis]
3/4 tbsp unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp sugar [adjust to taste]

Mango Jelly

1 cup fresh mango puree  [substitute with store bought]
1/2 cup water
3 tbsp sugar [adjust to taste]
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
a pinch of cardamom powder [optional]
3/4 tbsp unflavored powdered gelatin
1/4 cup water

Making the Litchi Pannacotta:

In a small bowl, pour the water and sprinkle gelatin over it.Let the gelatin bloom for about 5 minutes.Meawhile,tip in the canned litchis in a blender or a food processor along with syrup and crush them.Drain the crushed litchis thorugh a sieve once.In a sauce pan, add the milk, sugar and drained litchis and let warm on low heat until sugar is dissolved.Do not let the mix boil,it should be warm but not hot.Remove from heat and add the bloomed gelatin to the pan.Mix well.You can whisk gently to ensure that everything has combined well.Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes and then pour into your serving bowls/glasses.Refrigerate and let set for 3 hours.

Making the Mango Jelly :

 In a small bowl, pour the 1/4 cup water and sprinkle gelatin over it.Let the gelatin bloom for about 5 minutes.Mix mango puree with 1/2 cup water , lemon juice, cardamom powder and 3 tbsp sugar and warm slightly (about 3-5 minutes] in a sauce pan over low heat.Again do not let boil.Mix in the bloomed gelatin and combine well.Let stand to cool off for about 10-12 minutes and add on top of the set litchi pannacotta.Let set for another 3 hours.

Add subsequent layers and keep on chilling.

Garnish with nuts or fresh fruit, mint and serve chilled.

How to create the swirls:

While you transfer the glasses to chill in the refrigerator, tilt the glasses/bowls.I usually use my cupcake pan to do this wherein I stuff little paper towels at the base of cases and rest the stem- tilted on them.Using a cupcake pan makes the handling easier when making a lot of servings but then there are lots of way of doing it.Devise your own.

Notes: It is important to add subsequent layers only after the bottom layers have set.The swirl you see in pictures took me half a day to set in and adding layers.You can do whichever way you like.Keep it simple or make a pattern.

Variations: Use coconut milk & agar agar flakes in place of whole milk & gelatin respectively to make a vegan version.I think litchi goes very well with papaya as well.I intend to add those layers next time I make it.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!


MITU, 14/02/2021


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