A disciplined row of custard apples rests on my kitchen counter. Luscious and plump, from a farm, not far away from home.
To get started on my favourite Atar Payesh.
Atar Payesh ? An amused friend asks, when I tell her what’s on my mind, bewilderment stark in her voice. And when did you dream that up ?
Not me, I retort, Atar Payesh is a quintessential Bengali delicacy that’s been around for centuries. Ever since the Portuguese arrived on the shores of Bengal with their paraphernalia of tropical fruit.
Well, yet another classic, I heave a silent sigh, that is fading fast into oblivion. Soon to be forgotten and relegated to the realms of history.
A mellifluous symphony of custard apple and milk.
Milk that has been languorously reduced till the pristine white wears a sheen of subtle gold.
Luscious custard apples fresh from the farm.
Oh and some cream, for indulgence. And that is yours truly’s touch. Grandma who religiously cooked an Atar Payesh every year with the season’s first crop of custard apples to offer to her gods would have frowned though, considering it as an extravagant luxury.
Cream or no cream, the payesh is pure bliss !!!
And if you love your custard apple as much as I do, this is a must-try before this year’s custard apple season runs out !!
Atar Payesh (Sitaphal Kheer / Custard Apple Pudding)
- 2 l milk
- 4-5 custard apples (sitaphal / ata)
- 100 ml heavy cream whipped
- 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder
- sugar to taste
- Break each of the custard apples gently into halves, scoop out the flesh with the aid of a spoon.
- Carefully remove the seeds, lightly mash the custard apple pulp with a fork. Keep aside.
- Set the milk to boil in a thick bottomed pan, add the green cardamom powder and let the milk simmer lazily over a low flame till it has reduced to almost half in volume.
- Stir in the mashed custard apple pulp, continue to cook over a low flame for 5-7 odd minutes.
- Add sugar to taste. (The custard apples I used were very sweet and just a tablespoon of sugar was enough for me)
- Switch off the flame, fold in the whipped cream. A hearty stir to ensure it is all mixed. Serve chilled.