COCONUT AND LIME PANACOTTA Some 30 summers back the simple pleasures included drinking nimbu paani (lemon juice) from a local roadside vendor. Homemade lime juice just didn’t taste the same. 7-up, Sprite and Pepsi weren’t part of our life then. He squirted the juice of 2 lemons into the glasses with a wooden, worn-out lime squeezer, mixed in chaat masala he and the sugar syrup to make a yummy, tangy cool mix. And ofcourse the uneven shards of ice that filled the glass, which he broke with an ice pick from a huge block hidden under a jute bag. Sometimes being short on cash I would happily ask for “cutting” (half glass) nimbu paani and share it with a friend. It only added to the joy. Coconuts too were a huge part of our life, before we could spell cholesterol. All the simple things which gave us so much pleasure as kids are now frowned upon or looked at with suspicion and dread. Coconut water that sweet, cooling, life giving, toxic washing liquid. Everytime I accompanied an adult to the market to buy coconuts, the vendor broke them and served the coconut water in the half itself. It was a thrill. An outing to the beach always ended with Narayal paani (coconut water) and once done the coconut cream was scooped out. Now, nimbu paani and coconut water, cream and milk all come out of tetra packs. Yes, convenient, hygienic, flavours intact but not half the fun and with no “memory –value” either. I have combined 2 favourite memories to get one lovely, silky dessert, perfect for the summers. Though the ingredients sound heavy the dessert comes out surprisingly light and subtle on flavours. Its like eating lime flavoured coconut cream. Its so easy and fast, you will be lulled into a state of laziness and want to make it again and again.
COCONUT AND LIME PANACOTTA
200 ml Coconut milk
200 ml cream
75 grms sugar
1 1/4 tspn gelatine
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 stalk lemon grass, bruised (optional)
- Take a tablespoon of tepid water in a small heat-proof bowl. Sprinkle the gelatine over it and leave aside to sponge.
- Put the coconut cream in a heavy based container. Put it on a low heat to boil. Add in the sugar. Stir intermittently till the mixture is simmering but not boiling over. Switch off the heat and add in the lemon grass stalk and lemon zest to infuse the flavours. Leave aside and let it cool to room temperature.
- In another pan/ vessel, heat the cream gently and bring it to a boil. Put off the heat. Let cool slightly. Add a tablespoon of the hot cream to the gelatine to loosen it up a little. Add the gelatine to the cream and stir well to dissolve. Strain the cream mixture into a bowl and leave it cool to room temperature.
- Make sure the coconut milk and cream have cooled completely. Strain the coconut milk into the cream mixture and stir it well. Discard the lemon grass stalk and zest. Strain the 2 combined liquids into another container to get rid of the gelatine lumps if any. Add in the lemon juice. Stir. Taste the mixture. If you feel the need for a little more tang go ahead and add a little more lemon juice.
- Pour the mixture into 4 ramekins or shot glasses. Chill for 6-8 hours.
- Serving suggestions: Brown 2 tablespoons of desiccated coconut in a pan, stirring constantly. When it turns a nutty brown, empty it into a bowl, cool a little and add ½ teaspoon of caster sugar and a generous pinch of cardamom powder. Mix well. Sprinkle over the panacotta
- Cut fresh coconut into thin slices and brown under a grill. Remove and coat them with caster sugar and top each panacotta with a slice.