Lemon Pudding with Peanut Chikki Crumble – A Recipe to Honour Indian Farmers

My recent trip to Nashik was an eye opener. I got to see first hand what this season’s dismal rainfall has done to crops. I saw arid, and dry land where I should have been seeing green. I found walking around in the farm so tedious, only to imagine the kind of hardships our farmers must have to face working under that harsh sun, day in and day out. But they do it, with a smile on their faces, waving to us as our car drove by, proud of being able to put food onto our plates every single day.

Freshly returned from my Nashik trip, I was approached to participate in the #SeedTheRise campaign by Mahindra and Mahindra. Call it destiny, or coincidence this campaign happened right around the time I wanted to do something for the farmers, and make a difference in any small way that I could.

What is the Seed The Rise campaign? 

A fund raising initiative set up by Mahindra and Mahindra to improve the lives of farmers. The campaign is working at raising Rs. 2 crores from the public via donations – and an equal amount will be matched by Mahindra as well. All funds collected will go towards supporting 5 key NGO run projects that strategically aim at bettering the farmers’ lives in varied ways including setting up drip irrigation, sustainable farming units and educating the girl child. 

As a part of the #SeedTheRiseChallenge, I was asked to come up with a dish made out of lemons. India is the world’s largest producer of lemons, a fact that I was oblivious to until now. I personally feel lemons in desserts are underrated. I remember collecting my pocket money, and running to Candies once a week after school to bite into a Lemon Tart. That citrus burst from the lemon curd, contrasted with the bite of the tart base felt like heaven to my childhood self. I remember the fragrance of my aunt’s lemon cake baking in the oven. I remember my very first bite of lemon meringue, and wondering if this is what nirvana feels like. So yes, lemons and I go way back.

When I heard about the challenge, I was sure I wanted to come up with a dessert. But I also wanted the dessert to have an Indian influence – since celebrating Indian farmers is the entire purpose. The peanut crumble on top is my version of the humble but widely loved ‘Singdana ni chikki’, and adds tons of texture and desi-ness to Martha Stewart’s classic Lemon Pudding Recipe.

‘When Life Gives You Lemons….Make Dessert!

What you’ll need:

For the pudding 

  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup corn flour
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3 and 1/2 cups milk
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the peanut chikki crumble

  • 1/2 cup unsalted, roasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup Jaggery

What you’ll have to do:

For the pudding

  1. In a saucepan (which is not on the flame) whisk the yolks, sugar, cornstarch, lemon zest, salt and 1/2 cup of milk. Keep whisking until the mixture is smooth. To this slowly add in the remaining 3 cups of milk.
  2. Put the saucepan over a medium flame, and continue whisking occasionally till the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat once thickened, and add in the lemon juice.
  3. Divide the mixture into serving bowls and refrigerate for 1-1/2 hours.

For the peanut chikki crumble

  1. Heat about 2 tablespoons of water in a pan. Once the water comes to a boil, drop in the finely chopped pieces of jaggery. Cook the jaggery until it thickens and darkens, and a syrup like consistency is achieved.
  2. Add the roasted peanuts to the jaggery and mix well. Smoothen this mixture on to a greased plate, spread evenly and allow to cool.

I removed the pudding from the refrigerator, and topped it with some peanut chikki that I ‘crushed and crumbled’ with a mortar pestle. I love how the sugar in the peanut chikki balances out the tart, sour taste from the lemons. I love the contrast of smoothness from the pudding and crunch from the crumble. I love how lemon is the hero of this dish – so versatile yet unique.

In some small way, I am proud to be a part of the #SeedTheRise initiative. I am glad I could come up with this recipe, honoring the local produce our country has to offer. Find more details about the campaign on their website – www.seedtherise.com – or watch the video below. 

There could be no better way to celebrate Diwali – with a refreshing desert and doing our bit for the farmers. This is the time to give back!

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