I had the distinct privilege of attending a Parsi wedding in Mumbai a few years back and had eaten the most heavenly dessert – Parsi Wedding Custard (or Lagan Nu Custard). This delicious sweet dish is traditionally served at Parsi weddings as a sign of good luck & prosperity for the newly married couple. But I love to serve this lovely dish on any occasion, all year round.
Indian Parsis are an extremely close-knit community, they are the direct descendants of Persian Zoroastrians who fled Iran thousands of years ago to escape religious persecution. They have since settled in India and made it their home. Parsi cuisine is a wonderful and rich blend of both Persian and Indian cuisines, cooking styles and methods. Parsi dishes are famous for their unique combinations of bold & exciting flavors.
PARSI WEDDING CUSTARD (Lagan Nu Custard)
4 cups whole milk
4 tbsp condensed milk
1 cup sugar, to taste
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp rose water
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cardamom powder
good pinch of saffron threads soaking in 2 tbsp warm milk
½ cup toasted unsalted almonds (or pistachio nuts or cashews), rough chopped
½ cup golden raisins (or sultanas), sautéed in a little ghee or butter
½ cup pomegranate seeds for garnish
fresh mint leaves for garnish
6 small baking ramekins or custard cups, arranged in a deep baking dish or casserole dish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Then boil a kettle of water to use for a water bath during baking. When the water comes to a boil, remove the kettle from the heat and set aside until needed.
In a heavy bottom saucepan on medium high heat, bring the milk to a gentle boil. Next, reduce the heat to medium low & add the condensed milk along with the sugar. Stir well until the sugar has completely dissolved and let cook until the milk has thickened and reduced by one-third. Then remove completely from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly.
When the mixture has sufficiently cooled, slowly add a ladle or two of the milk mixture to the lightly beaten eggs. This process is known as “tempering the eggs” which now allows the eggs to be added to the milk mixture without scrambling them. Stir well to combine and then add the entire egg mixture to the milk mixture. Mix well and also add the vanilla, rose water, nutmeg, cardamom & saffron along with its soaking liquid.
Now carefully pour (or ladle) the mixture into the ramekins. Sprinkle the top of each ramekin generously with the almonds & raisins. Place the baking dish with the ramekins on the center rack of your oven and pour hot water into the baking dish so the water comes about two-thirds up the side of the ramekins. This is referred to as a “bain marie” or water bath and ensures even cooking of the custard.
Bake the custard for 30-35 minutes or until the custard is set (a knife inserted in the center comes out clean). Let cool and then chill for at least 2-3 hours in the refrigerator before serving. You can sprinkle a few pomegranate seeds on top with a couple of mint leaves if you like.