Shikanji granita with lemon creme fraiche

Shikanji granita with lemon creme fraiche

By
From
I Love India
Serves
4-5
Photographer
Martin Poole

It is true that many Indian desserts can be rich and sweet, but we do have flavoured Indian granitas in the form of gola. These are little cups of shaved ice, flavoured with your choice of sweet syrup.

Shikanji is not a typical flavour; it is a popular lemon drink that is sweet, lightly tangy and gently flavoured with roasted cumin, black salt and mint leaves. It is really refreshing and moreish. The reason salt was added was to replenish and rehydrate people who had been too long in the sun; cumin and mint helped to cool the body. If you don’t want to add black salt (which has a sulphurous smell, but not taste), you can add a little pink salt, or no salt at all.

This is subtle and delicious and perfect at any time on a hot day. It is always surprising to those who eat it, as it looks so simple, but hides a multitude of subtle flavours.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

For the granita

Quantity Ingredient
500ml filtered water
135g sugar, or to taste
finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, plus more to serve (optional)
85-90ml lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon roasted and ground cumin seeds
1/16 teaspoon pink salt or regular salt, or to taste
4 mint sprigs, plus more, shredded, to serve
good handful pomegranate seeds, to serve

For the lemon creme fraiche

Quantity Ingredient
100g half-fat creme fraiche
3 teaspoon icing sugar, to taste

Method

  1. Pour the water and sugar into a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved. Take off the heat, add half the lemon zest, all the juice, the cumin, salt and mint. Allow to infuse as it cools for at least 1 hour. Fish out the mint and pour into a flattish rectangular freezer-proof container, cover with the lid and place on a flat surface in the freezer.
  2. Every 45 minutes or so, take it out and break up all the crystals forming on the inside by scraping with a fork, making sure you get the sides as well. Repeat every 45 minutes or so, scraping the granita with the fork so it becomes granular, until it is all frozen.
  3. When ready to serve, stir together all the ingredients for the crème fraîche; I like to use the half-fat version to keep the dessert light.
  4. Remove the granita from the freezer and scrape it again to break it back up. Spoon into little glass bowls or glasses, scatter over the shredded mint and stir it in with a fork, spoon over a dollop of the cream and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds and some lemon zest, if you like. Serve immediately.

Roast and ground cumin seeds

  • Place the cumin seeds in a small dry frying pan over a medium heat and stir just until they turn a shade darker and smell aromatic. Remove and grind to a powder in a mortar or pestle or a spice grinder.
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