A concentrated liquor resulting from heating or boiling a substance, especially a medicinal preparation made from a plant.
– Oxford Dictionary
It’s a jarring sound, decoction. A sudden awakening from slumber by the cries of the vegetable seller from the street, and the racket of steel on steel as the maids wash the morning dishes. It is the clanging of the heavy temple bell as early worshippers wake the Gods, offerings of fruit and flowers balanced in the other hand. It is the impatient tooting of the horns of scooters ridden by morning commuters, some with saree clad wives perched sideways on the passenger seat.
Di-caack-shun when pronounced by a mami (aunty), is a little softer. It is what South Indians call their coffee, brewed strong and slow, through a filter. It’s rich aroma floats from the kitchen with that of freshly ground coconut flesh that is to be blended into chutney. It wafts across the courtyard of a traditional Tamilian home to mingle with the intoxicating scent of jasmine blossoms and delicate incense smoke. It is an unmistakeable morning scent, the promise of piping hot coffee in tiny steel cups alongside fluffy idlis (steamed rice cakes) and fragrant chutney. For many South Indians, it really is somewhat of a medicinal preparation, an essential start to the day. Until the first dose is taken, the morning cacophony can wait.
No European coffee, prepared by professionals using noisy steam-spurting machines comes close to South Indian philter kaapi, lovingly brewed by mami baristas. Rich and deep without bitterness and creamy with full-cream milk, sipping dose after dose from those stainless steel cups is an experience that cannot be mimicked by western coffee in paper cups. When Nespresso sent me their new, limited edition Monsoon Malabar Grand Cru capsules however, I was surprised at how much the aroma and taste reminded me of South Indian coffee. It’s deep, warm tones lend themselves perfectly to dessert and I couldn’t wait to create a sweet treat that incorporated this gorgeous blend. My Monsoon Mocha Ice-Cream Sandwich uses a modification of a spiced Indian biscuit, known as nankhatai, with rich and creamy no-churn mocha ice cream. Coffee is no stranger to spices, at least in the middle-east, and the sharpness of cardamom helps cut through the sweetness and warm coffee tones.
It takes a little planning, this one. The ice-cream should be given at least 12-24 hours to freeze, and the biscuit dough can be made and refrigerated at the same time. The next day, leave yourself a little time to roll out, cut and bake the biscuits, then allow them to cool before crumbly biscuit meets cold, luscious ice cream. The result will be a pleasantly surprising combination of flavours and textures, a dessert that does full justice to the lovely Monsoon Malabar Grand Cru.
Before we get too carried away with this intoxicating business of coffee, ice-cream and whatnot, I have a couple of important things to mention. Firstly, I would be super grateful if you would please head over to the Nespresso Facebook page at the end of this week, like the page and vote for my Monsoon Mocha Ice-cream Sandwich Recipe in the blogger challenge. Thank you in advance!
Secondly, and more excitingly, I have a giveaway! It is a stunning cookbook by Chef Kumar Mahadevan and his wife Suba Mahadevan, who own two of the best Indian restaurants in Sydney. Chef Kumar has also appeared on Masterchef Australia as an expert Indian chef. From a personal perspective, my family and I are frequent diners at both restaurants and long before this giveaway was even in the works, I placed both Abhi’s and Aki’s in the guide to my favourite Indian restaurants in Sydney on Stay.com. Having indulged in Chef Kumar’s dishes at the restaurants as well as at various events, I know that the recipes will not only work but will be delectable. What makes this book special in my opinion is it’s lean towards South Indian dishes, delicacies from my part of India, many of which are not available in the majority of Indian restaurants outside India.
I have a copy of Chef Kumar’s cookbook, ‘From India: Food, Family & Tradition’ to give away to a lucky reader, along with a sleeve of the limited edition Nespresso Monsoon Malabar Grand Cru. For a chance to win, tell me in the comments box at the end of this post, about your most memorable cup of coffee. What made it special? Was it the place? The person who was sitting across the table from you? Was it linked to an important event? Or was it just the taste of the coffee itself, good or bad?
The competition is open to those living in Australia only, and closes at midnight Sydney time on the 23rd of April. Please leave me some way of contacting you- either a link to your blog or check in here for a reply in case you win! If I don’t hear back from you within 3 days of me contacting you, I will have to pick another winner.
I look forward to your entries and your memories. Oh and I would be forever grateful for your votes (Click here, then vote for the recipe from One Small Pot)!
*This competition is based on skill and I will choose the answer based on my discretion. Prizes have been kindly provided by Nespresso and Chef Kumar. Monsoon Malabar Grand Cru capsules and a loan machine were also provided by Nespresso for creation of the recipe. Words and opinions are my own.
**Update : the winner of the giveaway was Ilana Mendels with her gorgeous words about the coffee she sipped during her first visit to her home country. Congratulations Ilana!
Monsoon Mocha Ice-Cream Sandwich
Ice-cream recipe modified from a Nigella Lawson recipe.
For the Mocha Ice-cream:
240g (just over 2/3 cup) sweetened condensed milk
320ml double cream
120g good quality 70% dark chocolate
2 freshly brewed espresso shots Nespresso Monsoon Malabar Coffee
For the Coffee Nankhatai Biscuits:
180g butter at room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
Seeds from of 8 cardamom pods. roughly ground
2 tsp cinnamon powder
2 freshly brewed espresso shots of Nespresso Monsoon Malabar (about 3 tbsp brewed coffee)
1 1/4 cups besan (chickpea) flour
1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup coarse semolina
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
To make the ice-cream:
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave in 20 to 30 second bursts.
Brew the coffee and place in the freezer to cool.
Once the coffee and chocolate are cool, lightly whisk together the condensed milk and cream in a bowl, then add the coffee and chocolate. Lightly whisk until combined.
Pour into a container and place in the freezer for 12-24 hours.
To make the biscuits:
Brew the coffee and place in the freezer to cool.
In a large bowl, cream the butter with the sugar and the cardamom and cinnamon powders. Whisk through the cooled coffee until combined.
In a separate bowl, sift all the flours, baking powder and salt together.
Add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture and combine with a spatula. You will then have to get your (clean) hands in there to form a dough. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes until it is smooth. If it is too sticky, put it in the fridge for about 10 mins. Knead again for a minute.
Wrap in cling wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.
Divide the dough into 3-4 parts. Flour the outside of the dough and place between 2 sheets of grease-proof paper. Roll out evenly into 5 mm thick sheets. using a round cookie cutter (about 7 cm diameter), cut the cookies out of the sheet. Leave the rest of the dough in the fridge and just take out sections as you are ready to roll them. Repeat until all the dough is finished.
Lay the cookies out on baking trays lined with baking paper. Leave 2-3 cm between cookies as they will spread a little. Place the trays in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 170 C.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 10-12 minutes mins. The cookies are done when they have spread a little and are slightly browned at the top and bottom. They will be soft initially but will firm up after they cool. Allow to cool completely before assembling.
To assemble, scoop the ice-cream into a rough ball using an ice-cream scoop and a dinner spoon. Place the ball of ice-cream in the centre of one biscuit and place another biscuit on top. Apply gentle, even pressure to the top biscuit with the flat palm of your hand until the ice-cream spreads a little between biscuits. The biscuits will break easily, so it is important to be gentle.