Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Caramel Custard / Classic Crème caramel

What I enjoy when it comes to food are the memories and anecdotes that it evokes. And it gets even better when it comes from an era you were never a part of.
But, a little background first. Thanks to India's colonial past, the British left their mark on the Indian culinary scene. It was some of their beloved dishes that they improvised with the ingredients and spices that they found in India. Some of the popular dishes were Roast chicken, lamb stew, mulligatawny soup, meatloaf, fried fish with tartar sauce and for the desserts, there was trifle, bread and butter pudding, chilled lemon soufflé and caramel custard. And while this unique fusion cuisine is referred to as 'Anglo-Indian' cuisine, colloquially it was called 'English Khana'!

And much through the 50s, 60s and 70s, when very few Indians had the opportunity to experience the world outside, this English khana was all that we thought of as international cuisine. And I am told, in a distorted interpretation of modernity, it was considered 'modern' in those days, to say that you had English khana for dinner!!

My mother recounts how in the early 70s, a certain matriarch was on the lookout for a suitable match for her most eligible son. I am digressing but I have to state that I am yet to meet an Indian mother who does not think her son is most eligible. Anyhow, this particular lady rejected a whole host of young ladies because they admitted that they did not know how to make caramel custard!! Gasp!!! How did they ever think they would be suitable for her esteemed son if they did not even know how to make caramel custard, the epitome of English khana?!!?

It's such a random story but it makes Ma and me laugh every time someone mentions caramel custard!

I won't get into why I remembered this story but it did make me ask my mother for her very own caramel custard recipe. She's always insisted, it's extremely easy to make and I reckoned it must be, considering how often she churned it out when we were kids.

Looking at the recipe, there are only four ingredients and I have given a few tips from the dependable Mary Berry so that you just can't go wrong! Its all straightforward but it is preferable that you make it a day before you want to serve it.

The end result is perfect. The custard is smooth, light and not too sweet. It contrasts and compliments that dark, auburn caramel layer that is sweet with a hint of bitter that makes this dessert the classic it is. It is one of those desserts that isn't too heavy and helps finish off a meal on the right note.

Is there any food-related memory or anecdote that always has you in splits that you'd like to share??

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