Panacotta with an Indian twist

  1. There are so many delicate flavors that traditional Indian desserts embody and so many beautiful techniques involved in making Indian savory and sweet dishes and I am forever a fan of them. I also feel that not enough is written about their beauty and techniques and the science involved in them and the rest of the world doesnt really get to enjoy these flavors in thier kitchen as they imagine these traditional dishes are so difficult to reproduce. Which is why I love to reimagine these traditional flavors and techniques in a way that may inspire people to try them.

Here’s my panacotta with flavors and textures inspired by a traditional patoli of Konkani cuisine. This dessert is usually made during the monsoon when turmeric leaves are found in abundance. The traditional way of making this dessert is by cooking rice flour in boiling water with salt and ghee for flavor to a chapati dough consistency which is then flattened on fresh turmeric leaves and topped with freshly desiccated coconut and jaggery mixture and folded and steamed till the rice dough cooks.

Patoli has been my favorite dessert when I was a kid and I still appreciate it for the subtle flavors and the technique used to make it. When you bite into a patoli you feel the flavors of rice dough infused with the fragrance and flavor of fresh turmeric leaves and then the juices of crunchy fresh coconut jaggery mixture oozing into your mouth with every bite. Just delicious and so healthy with no unwanted fats. Perfect isn’t it?

So I decided to reimagine the panacotta with patoli flavors and set about the task of finding fresh turmeric leaves in bangalore. They were so hard to find that finally I had to wait till I am back home in Udupi where mom had a stash of dried turmeric leaves which she uses to flavor the homemade ghee. Perfect.

Here are some fresh turmeric leaves from my home garden just kissed by the rains:

So I make the dessert experiment and ask mom to sample it and ask her if this does remind you of biting into a patoli and she is like yes this does feel like biting into a patoli with a lingering after taste of turmeric leaves flavor. And I am so elated. So here’s how you make this dessert:


For the panacotta:

2 turmeric leaves fresh or dried, chopped

11/2 cups milk

11/2 cups cream

21/4 tsp gelatin sugar

1/3cups powdered sugar

For the topping:

1/4 cup Fresh desiccated coconut

2 tsp grated or powdered jaggery

For the lacy rice wafer:

1 tsp rice flour

3-4 tsp water

1 pinch salt


For the panacotta:

Soak the gelatin in 1/4th cup of room temperature water and let it bloom for 5 min. It will reach texture of cooked semolina when it is done blooming. Stand this bowl in a bowl of warm water and stir till gelatin dissolves.

In a pan warm cream and the milk with the turmeric leaves.  Do not boil this mixture.

Strain or fish out the turmeric leaves and add the gelatin mixture once it is cooled. Add sugar.

Once cooled, pour this mixture in moulds, cover with plastic wrap and allow it to cool in the refrigerator.Do not freeze. The plastic wrap will help prevent a film from developing on top of the panacotta. Let it set overnight.

For the topping:

Mix the grated coconut and jaggery and keep aside

For the lacy rice wafer:

This is adapted from the technique used to make lacy rava dosa traditionally.

Mix the rice flour and water and salt to form a runny batter. Now spoon this batter in a teaspoon into a skillet and  cook on both sides.

Assembling the dessert:

Remove the panacotta from the refrigerator when it is time to serve. In the heat of the tropics like it is now in udupi , my panacotta liquidised again if you let It come to room temperature.

When it is time to serve, top the panacotta with coconut jaggery mixture (try not to top too much as it may sink into the delicate panacotta) and the rice wafer and serve.