Bhapa Doi (Bengali Baked Yogurt Pudding)

For the bhap doi (baked yogurt pudding):
Condensed milk – 1 cup
Greek yogurt – 1 1/2 cups
Cornstarch – 1 tsp (optional)
Milk – 1 tbsp (optional)

For the pomegranate coulis:
Pomegranate – 1, large
Water – 1/4 cup (or as needed)
Sugar – 2 tbsp (or as needed)
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Cornstarch – 1 tsp

To garnish:
Almonds and cashew nuts – a small handful, crushed
Dried rose petals – a few

Bhapa Doi (Baked Yogurt Pudding): Pre-heat the oven to 300 deg.F. Boil water in a kettle for the bain marie. Line a large baking pan with a folded kitchen towel and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the condensed milk and Greek yogurt. Mix the cornstarch in milk and add to the mixture. Mix well so that no lumps remain. (The cornstarch is totally optional, but it helps to ensure a well-set pudding).

Divide yogurt mixture among four large ramekins or 6-8 smaller ones. Place ramekins in the prepared baking pan and fill with hot water so that it comes halfway up the sides of the ramekins. (The kitchen towel under the ramekins will keep them from sliding around in the hot water.)

Bake for 30-35 minutes or till yogurt is set, but slightly jiggly in the center.

Remove and cool down to room temperature. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. This keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Pomegranate coulis: Prepare pomegranate coulis when yogurt is in the oven. Dissolve cornstarch in a tablespoon of water and set side.

Remove the pomegranate arils and blend them together. Add enough water to make at least a cup of juice. Strain this mixture and discard the seeds.

Take pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, add the cornstarch slurry and simmer for 4-5 minutes or till sauce thickens slightly. Taste and adjust sweetness accordingly.

Cool this down and store in a glass jar in the refrigerator till needed.

Serving bhapa doi: To serve the pudding, top each ramekin with some of the pomegranate coulis, some crushed nuts and rose petals. Enjoy!

NOTES:
1. Since Greek yogurt is naturally thick, it is best suited for this recipe and combines easily with the condensed milk. If you are using regular yogurt, make sure it is whole fat and drained of most of the liquid. You should have 1½ cups of thick, strained yogurt to start with.

2. You can flavor bhapa doi by adding cardamom powder or a little bit of saffron steeped in warm milk. You can also add some fruit pulp (mangoes work best) to make fruit flavored bhapa doi.

3. Instead of preparing a fruit coulis or sauce, you can top the pudding with chopped fresh fruits of choice. You can also top the pudding with just nuts and maybe even saffron.

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