Chilled Indian fruit custard with jelly is the perfect dessert for the summer months. Seasonal fruit like apple, grapes, mango, banana, pomegranate and berries are dipped in a thick, smooth and creamy vanilla custard sauce sweetened with honey. Both stovetop and Instant Pot recipes included.
This simple fruit custard is the best, most easy way to beat the summer heat. A very popular dessert in India, it is a real crowd-pleaser. Plus, it is so easy to put together, you'll want to save the recipe to make it again and again. Unlike some Indian desserts that can be quite fussy and time-consuming, this is a simple dessert and comes together in a heartbeat. Granted, it's not the most traditional of Indian sweet dishes, but it has a refreshing, summery taste that will make you reach for seconds.
It's also the most kid-friendly dessert ever. When my twins were small, and I wanted them to eat more fruit, guess what I made for dessert? Yep. It was fruit custard on the menu, literally every week. Now that they are teenagers, they still love it and ask me to make this delicious dessert for old times' sake!
Ingredients in this Indian fruit custard recipe
- Vanilla custard powder - I used three tablespoons of Bird's Custard Powder.
- Honey - I added one-third cup of honey to this recipe as it is a healthier option to sugar. If you'd rather add sugar, half a cup of white, granulated sugar should be enough.
- Fresh full-fat milk - Three cups + six tablespoons for dissolving the custard powder.
- Fresh fruit - Take your pick of the season. Strawberries, blueberries, grapes, banana, apple, pomegranate, mango...all these fruit will work.
Which fruit to avoid
Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit should be avoided as these fruits release water and the custard becomes runny after a while. Watermelon and cantaloupe should also not be used as their water content is very high and they will disintegrate in the sauce pretty fast. Pineapple is another no-no due to the enzymes in it. Other than these, most fresh fruits of your choice can be used.
What is custard powder made of and substitutions
Custard powder is made, largely, of cornflour or cornstarch. This is what thickens the milk instantly. Other ingredients are annatto coloring, salt and vanilla flavor. There are no eggs in it. This post has more info on Bird's custard powder which I used in this recipe. You can use any other brand, of course.
You can also use any North American vanilla pudding mix instead of custard powder, if you so wish. The ingredients are very similar.
Alternatively, you can make your own custard from scratch! Here's a recipe post for making your own sauce.
How to make fruit custard on the stovetop
Step 1 - Heat 3 cups of milk and honey in a saucepan, and lower the heat when bubbles start to form.
Step 2 - Dissolve the custard powder in 6 tablespoons of cold milk until a smooth mixture forms. Add this in a thin stream over the boiling milk. Stir the hot milk constantly and vigorously with your other hand while you're adding the custard mix to avoid lumps.
Step 3 - The milk will start to thicken almost immediately. As soon as the milk thickens and becomes a sauce, take the saucepan off the hob but continue stirring the sauce for an additional 2-3 minutes. Let it cool down completely. If you're in a hurry, you can cool it over a bowl of ice. Transfer the custard sauce to a bowl and keep it in the fridge for a couple of hours until chilled.
Step 4 - Add chopped fruits to the chilled custard and mix them in gently. Fruit custard is ready to be served!
How to make fruit custard in the instant pot (and why)
Why should I make custard in the instant pot when it is so easy to make it on the stovetop? This question might pop into your head as it did in mine.
The simple answer is that the instant pot makes it easier to heat the milk. Rather than watch the milk boil on the stovetop (you will have to watch it for sure!), you can set it to boil on the yogurt setting of your instant pot and walk away. Once the pot beeps, remove the lid and follow the rest of the steps. No mess, no fuss:)
Step 1 - Pour 3 cups milk in the inner steel insert of your instant pot and secure the lid. It does not matter if the steam release vent is on 'venting' or 'sealing'. Press the yogurt button and then press it again to bring it to the 'boil' setting. When the instant pot beeps, open the pot and switch to sauté (medium heat).
Step 2 - Stir in the honey.
Step 3 - Dissolve the custard powder in 6 tablespoons of cold milk in a small bowl until a smooth mixture forms. Add this in a thin stream over the hot milk. Stir the milk constantly and vigorously with your other hand while you're adding the custard mixture to avoid lumps.
Step 4 - The milk will start to thicken almost immediately As soon as the milk thickens and becomes a sauce, remove the steel insert from the instant pot but continue stirring it for an additional 2-3 minutes. Let it cool down completely. If you're in a hurry, you can cool it over a bowl of ice. Transfer the custard sauce to a bowl and keep it in the fridge for a couple of hours until chilled.
Step 5 - Add chopped fruits to the chilled custard and mix them in gently. Fruit custard is ready to be served!
How to make the jelly
Vanilla custard goes very well with jelly or flavored gelatine and is a very popular combination. Making jelly is very simple. Here are the general instructions for making jelly, but do have a look at the package instructions too for best results.
- Take out the gelatine crystals in a bowl and pour one cup hot water.
- Stir to dissolve the gelatine in the water.
- Add one cup cold water to it and stir again.
- Keep the jelly to set in the fridge for a coupe of hours.
Additional notes on making jelly
- Vegetarian and halal gelatine is available quite easily in most stores if you do not want to use regular gelatine.
- I made orange jelly for this recipe, but you can go with the flavor of your choice. There are so many interesting flavors out there!
- Instead of using a gelatine mould, you can pour the jelly mixture in an ice tray and stick it in the fridge to set. This way, you get individual cubes of jelly to serve with the custard.
A few helpful notes
- If you follow the above recipe, you will get a smooth and very creamy custard sauce that's perfect for dipping fruit.
- The custard will thicken more when you cool and refrigerate it. This is okay.
- Experiment with the fruit of your choice except the ones mentioned above. When mangoes are in season, I make a simple mango custard sometimes with no other fruit, and serve it with vanilla ice cream. I also add blackberries and blueberries to the custard when they are in season.
Some essential tips
Tip #1 - The secret to making a smooth, lump-free sauce is to keep stirring the milk while you're adding the custard powder dissolved in milk. Continue to stir for a couple of minutes even after the sauce has thickened and you have taken it off the heat. This will prevent a film from forming on the sauce and keep it silky smooth.
Tip #2 - If you do end up with lumps due to whatever reason, never fear. Just cool the custard and give it one go in the blender. All lumps gone!
Tip #3 - Don't add fruit before the custard is ready to serve, especially bananas and apples as they discolor easily.
Tip #4 - If your custard is runny because you added less powder, just mix some more powder with cold milk, add to the hot custard and cook for a minute, stirring well all the time. The custard should become thick.
Tip #5 - If your custard is thicker than you desire, stir in some milk to the hot custard and mix well. It will loosen up.
More serving ideas
There are so many interesting ways to make this simple dish fancier. Serve it with any one of the following -
- Whipped cream
- Vanilla ice cream
- Sponge cake
Other easy Indian desserts for the summer
- Pistachio Saffron Kulfi - the creamiest, dreamiest Indian ice cream you can make at home!
- Bhapa Doi - a 5-ingredient cheesecake made with yogurt instead of cream cheese.
- Caramel Pudding or Caramel Custard - a silky smooth dessert made with milk, sugar, and eggs.
- Instant Pot Kheer - a traditional Indian rice pudding. It's rich, creamy and very tasty.
Indian Fruit Custard
- 3 cups fresh whole milk
- 6 tablespoon fresh whole milk
- 3 tablespoon vanilla custard powder
- ⅓ cup honey
- 4-5 strawberries halved
- half a banana sliced
- 8-10 red seedless grapes
- 1 small mango diced
- ¼ cup blueberries
- half an apple chopped
- Heat the 3 cups of milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until hot and add the honey. Stir to dissolve. Reduce the heat to low.
- Mix the vanilla custard powder in the 6 tablespoons of cold milk to a smooth, lump free mixture.
- Add this mixture in a slow stream over the hot milk and stir the milk in the saucepan with a spoon in your other hand continuously and vigorously. When the sauce thickens, remove the saucepan from the hob but continue to stir it for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Transfer the custard to a heat-proof glass bowl and allow it to cool down completely. Once it has cooled, cover with clingfoil and keep in the refrigerator for a couple of hours or more.
- Add the fruit to the custard sauce. Serve chilled.
Instant Pot Instructions
- Pour 3 cups milk in the inner steel insert and secure the lid. It does not matter if the steam release vent is on 'venting' or sealing'. Press the yogurt button and then press it a second time to bring it to the boil setting. When the milk is boiled, the pot will beep. Remove the lid and switch to sauté (medium).
- Stir in the honey.
- Dissolve the custard powder in 6 tablespoon cold milk and add this in a thin stream over the hot milk. Stir the milk constantly and vigorously with your other hand.
- Remove the insert from the pot once the milk thickens and becomes a sauce but continue stirring it for another 2-3 minutes. Let it cool down completely.
- Transfer the sauce to a bowl and keep in the fridge until chilled. Then take it out and add the fruit to the custard. Serve chilled.
- I have not included the chilling time in the recipe.
- Honey can be substituted with half cup white granulated sugar.
- Serve the custard with any topping of your choice - whipped cream, Jello, vanilla ice cream or cake. If making jelly, follow the instructions on the gelatine packet for best results.
- You can opt for vegetarian or halal gelatine too depending on your dietary preferences. These are easily available in most supermarkets.
- Add or subtract the fruit of your choice, but don't use citrus fruit, melons or pineapple as these will make the custard runny and unappetizing.
- If your custard is too thick, add some milk to it and stir well. If it is runny, add a tablespoon of custard powder dissolved in a little cold milk and heat gently until it thickens.
- If the custard is lumpy, whizz in a blender on low speed and all the lumps will disappear.
- None of the above should happen if you follow this recipe!
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