As a child, Neelam Batra ate a hot, creamy version of this comforting dish for breakfast—minus the silver leaf and saffron—and a firm, warm or cold variation like this one for dessert.
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6 cups plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 cup blanched, whole almonds
1/2 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup semolina
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
Edible silver leaf, for garnish (optional; see Note)
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a small dish, combine 1 tablespoon of the milk with the saffron and let steep 30 minutes.
Spread the almonds and pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, or until the almonds are pale golden brown. Let cool, then coarsely chop.
Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Stir in the semolina and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until fragrant and golden brown, about 4 minutes. Slowly whisk in the sugar, cardamom and remaining 6 cups of milk, and bring to a boil, whisking. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, whisking often, until thickened, about 8 minutes. Scrape the semolina into a large, shallow serving dish and press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Let cool to room temperature, about 1 1/2 hours.
Just before serving, lightly stir the saffron milk into the semolina in quick dashes. Sprinkle with the toasted nuts, decorate with the silver leaf and serve.
Silver leaf is a completely flavorless, microscopically thin sheet of real silver that comes between sheets of paper. It's available at Indian groceries and at qualityspices.com.
Semolina, coarsely ground durum wheat, is often used to make pasta. It is available at many supermarkets, health food stores and ethnic markets. One great brand to try is Bob's Red Mill (bobsredmill.com).
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