One delicacy you’ll come across in some of the cities of Gujarat, if you happen to visit the local dairies selling milk, buttermilk, cream, ghee and other milk based products is Cream Salad. A Cream Salad is essentially a chilled mixture of fruits and cream. It also happens to be one of the favourite desserts of urban Gujaratis. If one does not like to eat this store bought dessert they replicate it at home and the version made at home is called Fruit Salad, which is chopped fruits mixed in milk custard made using the custard powder.
A strong food memory I have of my food preferences while growing up is my absolute love for chilled desserts. In fact many a times that was the only food I ate. My mummy kept at least two varieties of my favourites in the fridge and I have quite a few favourites Caramel Custard, Jelly Custard, Fruit Salad, Shrikhand, Slush, Ice Cream oh, it was an endless list……that was childhood and this is now…
As I started making some healthier choices in the food I eat and serve, I have strayed away from as much processed food as possible, have began finding ways to substitute white sugar with natural sugar. Apart from organic jaggery, khajoor/dates remain my favourite substitute to sugar. I absolutely adore dates. I just am looking at ways of including them in the sweets and desserts I make or the stuff I bake. So when I came across this recipe of Fruit Salad in a small booklet published by a renowned naturopathy institute I was compelled to try it out. There are some recipes you read and know they will turn out just fine and this was one of those recipes. However, what I have done here is remained loyal to the basic idea of recipe but played around with the flavours and consistency. I have infused the coconut milk with lime zest and mint. This infusion brought in the quintessential flavours of summer and lent the custard subtle aftertaste of lime and mint. The inclusion of dates as sweeter isn’t very over powering, in fact they are so mild that one can hardly taste any dates.
Although coconut milk isn’t consumed much in our local (gujarati) cuisine, I recommend you try incorporating it in your meals. Will do a separate post on coconut milk and share a video of extracting coconut milk at home…
The original recipe says this fruit salad can be a complete meal and I absolutely second that suggestion. It becomes a filing lite meal and sits well in the tummy for few hours. The Fruit Salad with Coconut -milk custard can be consumed during fasting days as-well. Sever it as a dessert and you are sure to receive all the fabulous feedbacks…
The choice of fruits for the Fruit Salad will remain seasonal and according to your personal preference. I have used the fruits that were on hand mangoes, dragon fruit, banana, apple, grapes and pomegranate arils. You may play with the fruits you find easily available.
Fruit Salad with Coconut-milk Custard (naturally sweetened with dates and infused with lime zest and mint)
Needs a bit of pre-planning
- 2+1/2 cups thick coconut milk (for a good custard thick coconut milk is mandatory)
- 1 cup good quality soft dates
- 3+1/2 cups seasonal fresh fruits of your choice, chopped
- 2 teaspoon lime or lemon zest
- a few mint leaves
For the dates puree
- Soak the dates for 2-3 hours.
- One they have soaked and soften a bit remove the seeds and stem if any.
- Puree the soaked dates and strain the puree to have a smooth date puree.
- Keep aside.
For infusing the coconut-milk
- In a thick bottomed pan, on a very gentle flame heat the coconut milk.
- Add the lemon zest and mint leaves.
- Continue to cook for a minute. Make sure the not tho allow the milk to come to a boil.
- Turn of the gas and let the custard sit for an hour in the refrigerator.
Preparing the Coconut-milk Custard
- Once the infused coconut milk has cooled down strain out the zest and leaves if you want. I did not strain the zest but spooned out the leaves.
- Mix the date puree with the infused coconut-milk.
- The Coconut-Milk custard is ready to use.
- Keep refrigerated until you are ready to serve the dessert.
The Fruit Salad
- Just before serving chop the fruits in bite sized cubes.
- Do not chop ahead of time as oxidation will turn the fruits dark.
- Serve them in individual bowls topped with chilled custard.
- Garnish if required with a few mint leaves.
- Always serve chilled.