Shahi Tukray is an utterly decadent bread pudding made of fried bread pieces dipped in sugar syrup and milk. A topping of nuts and cardamom makes it truly royal!
‘Shahi’ means ‘royal’ and ‘tukray’ means ‘pieces’. And indeed, Shahi Tukray (singular: shahi tukra) is an Indian bread pudding fit for kings. It is sweet, rich and indescribably flavourful. More prosaically, this dessert is also called Double ka Meetha (double = bread, meetha = sweet) but the recipe is the same.
How to make Shahi Tukray:
The recipe for Shahi Tukray is pretty straightforward. Here are the basic steps:
1. Fry the bread slices
Traditionally, bread is deep fried in ghee, but the amount of ghee the bread soaks up, especially when it is deep fried, terrifies me! So, I have come up with an innovation that works just as well. I slather the slices with butter and shallow fry them instead. Even if I am a little generous with the butter (which I am), it doesn’t come close to the amount used when deep frying. But the effect is the same, so it works just fine.
2. Make the sugar syrup
This is easy. Just dunk the sugar in a little water and cook for a few minutes. You’re done right when the syrup becomes thick and sticky.
3. Cook the milk and cream
This is the most time-consuming step of all as I refuse to use condensed milk. It’s the easiest thing in the world to open a can of condensed milk, and you can even skip step #2 this way. But really, the taste of Shahi Tukray is just not the same, so don’t skip any steps, please!
So then, pour the cream into the milk, add a pinch of food colour and cook this concoction until it thickens. Then add a few drops of kewra water (extract of pandanus flowers).
4. Assemble the shahi tukray
Now comes the fun part. Once everything’s ready, it is only a matter of putting the dish together. First, dip each shahi tukra in the sugar syrup, then milk. Top up with the slivered nuts (pistachios and almonds) and cardamom powder and voila! Shahi tukray is ready!
Substitutions for the Shahi Tukray recipe:
1. Butter instead of ghee
This, I’ve already mentioned before. It’s okay to use butter for shallow frying the bread pieces if you don’t want to use a gallon of ghee or oil. The shahi tukray will have a nice, buttery taste.
2. Evaporated milk instead of whole milk
Again, this can be done without much effect on the final outcome although I much prefer boiling whole milk. It’s healthier than something out of a can! Evaporated milk will work, however, if you’re in a time crunch.
3. Saffron instead of food colour
If you’re leery of food colour (although I use a very small pinch of it), you can easily use a few strands of saffron. Even the most good quality saffron will not give the same orangish hue, of course, so if you don’t mind your shahi tukray to be a bit on the paler side, go for it by all means. And there is definitely something to be said for the taste of saffron. It has a warm, distinctive taste all its own. A word of caution though: don’t go overboard with the saffron as too much of it can easily overpower the dish. Less is more and 4-5 strands will suffice!
4. Rose water instead of kewra water
Kewra water adds a very pleasing fragrance to the shahi tukray. But if it is not easily available (I can’t imagine making a trip to the Indian store for just one ingredient), then by all means use something that is there. Rose water works well too. If you don’t have either ingredient, it’s still not going to make a huge difference, so don’t fret!
Yield 24 pieces
A decadent bread pudding, Shahi Tukray is made of fried bread slices dipped in sugar syrup, then soaked in milk and finally topped with nuts and cardamom powder. Simply heavenly!
- 6 slices white bread
- 4 tbsp. butter
- 300 ml full fat milk
- 237 ml whipping cream
- a pinch of orange food colour
- 100 grams sugar in 100 ml water
- 5-6 pistachios, slivered
- 5-6 almonds, slivered
- 1/2 tsp green cardamom powder
- 1 tbsp. kewra water
- Spread a generous amount of butter on both sides of the bread slices and cut each slice into four pieces.
- Arrange the buttered bread slices in a frypan and shallow fry until golden brown. Flip and repeat. Set aside.
- Heat the sugar and water and cook for 10 -12 minutes on medium heat until the solution thickens and turns syrupy.
- Mix the milk and cream in a sauce pan. Add food colour. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Cook on low flame for 20 minutes, until the milk thickens, stirring it a few times in between. Turn off the heat and add the kewra water.
- Now, dip the bread slices in the sugar syrup and let them soak for 2-3 minutes.
- Then, dip them in the thickened milk and again let them soak for a couple of minutes.
- Remove the bread slices from the milk and arrange them on a platter. If there is any remaining milk, pour this on the bread.
- Sprinkle the powdered cardamom and slivered nuts on top and serve warm.
- If you’d like to save some time, don’t start with frying the bread pieces first. Get the sugar syrup and milk going first. Then, as these are cooking, butter and fry the bread slices in the meantime.
- Shahi tukray tastes great cold too. If you prefer a chilled dessert, keep the platter in the refrigerator for an hour or two and then serve.
- Kewra water is an extract of pandanus flowers. A clear, fragrant liquid, it is very similar to rose water, and is used for flavouring desserts and biryanis in North Indian cuisine. It is readily available in Indian grocery stores.