My brothers and I have always been accustomed to home-cooked meals — one of the perks of having a traditional Persian mum. At home, dinner parties were the norm, and at school our exotic triple-layer sandwiches were the envy of the entire grade.
But for all the cooking in our household, we rarely made desserts. And for this, I was the one who envied my friends — the ones who got to play with cake batter after school or on weekends. Of course, we had plenty of sweet treats. We just never made them ourselves — particularly, when it came to Persian desserts. But back then, all I wanted was to have my cake and to make it too.
These days I don’t envy my sticky-finger friends. In many countries, it’s customary for families to pick up their baked goods from any one of the irresistible cafes or pastry shops lining the main streets. And that’s how I prefer it. Who can resist a cafe window glistening with delectable pastries and cakes, anyhow?
Window drooling aside, I still love a home-made dessert. The recipe for today is one of the very few home-made desserts I remember having during my childhood. Mum would serve it in little bowls straight from the saucepan, while it was warm, gooey and sweet. That was the way we liked to eat it. But you could also let it cool and enjoy it as a jelly-like dessert.
Saffron & pistachio custard
Simple, indulgent and fragrant, this dessert reminds me of my childhood and holds a special place in my heart.
1/2 tsp saffron threads
110g wheat starch
40g pistachios, shells removed and crushed
1. Grind saffron threads, add 2tbs hot water and put aside
2. In a saucepan mix water and starch then add the milk, over medium heat
3. Stir constantly until mixture thickens
4. Add sugar and diluted saffron to the saucepan and mix well
5. Mix in one-third to one-half of the crushed pistachios while still warm, and sprinkle the remainder on top of the custard to serve.*
*This custard will harden to a jelly-like consistency after it has been poured into a dish and cooled, making it ideal when layering in trifles, etc. You may also like to sprinkle chocolate shavings or berries on top after the custard has cooled down. Otherwise, serve the custard while hot for a warming sweet treat!