During my growing up years in Mangalore, the fruit custard used to be such an integral part of any party menu. These were family parties, for the young and old and we never had such a thing as parties only for kids. Birthdays were rarely celebrated and even if they were, the whole jing bang was there to watch you cut your cake, sing the quintessential birthday song and then the men would go back to their drinks and deep discussions on politics or sport and the women would merrily gossip or exchange recipes while the hostess busied herself serving the food. After a typical Mangalorean spread of curried meats and pulaos and cutlets and salads the grand finale would always be this simple yet delicious fruit custard that was so much like the popula trifle pudding except that we didn't use a sponge in one of the several layers.
Since this dessert was really easy to make most moms opted for it. I mean which busy mom doing a million things on the day of the party doesn't welcome the idea of a dessert that can be made ahead of time? The custard and the jelly could be made the previous day and the fruits could be chopped up in a jiffy before serving. I have seen many a dad who was dragged in at the last minute to cut up the apples or papaya or bananas or whatever that went into the dessert.
A couple of days ago when I was decluttering my kitchen shelves I noticed this tin of custard powder that was not used in a long time. There was a long time to go before it expired and so I decided to make some custard yesterday. There was also a packet of jelly bought for another project that never really took off and so I decided to pronounce the two man and wife :) and well, the rest is history, the fruit custard was born!
I noticed that most fruit custard recipes don't call for jelly to be served along with it but somehow it has been a tradition in my family and most Mangalorean families that I know of. I think it just makes the whole dessert look pretty and since I personally love jelly it was a perfect addition for me.
You could go all creative and add some roasted cashew nuts and raisins if you wish but just the custard and fruits will do when you want to serve something simple an unassuming.
Now that the festive season is just around the corner I thought it was the right time to post it but trust me, this dessert needs no reason and no season. Make it with seasonal fruits anytime of the year and simply dig into that bowl of deliciousness! Yumm!
Prep time: 15 mins | Chilling time: 3-4 hours or overnight (for best results) | Serves: 4
For the custard (as per the instructions on the package)
For the jelly (as per the instructions on the package)
- 500ml (approx 2 cups+2 tablespoons) whole milk
- 2-3 tablespoons of custard powder * see notes
- 4-5 tablespoons of sugar (or adjust to taste) * see notes
- 1 packet (85 grams) strawberry or raspberry jelly powder (I used gelatin based)
- 1 cup (240ml) boiling water
- 1 cup (240ml) cold water
For the mixed fruits (use any fruits of your choice)
- 1 big banana, chopped
- 1 orange, segmented and chopped
- 1/2 large apple, cored and cubed
- 1/2 cup grapes, whole or halved
Prepare the custard:
1. Heat the milk in a heavy based saucepan and when it is just about warm, remove 2 tablespoons of it into a bowl. Add the custard powder to it and mix to make a thick paste.
2. Add the sugar to the milk and bring it to a boil, reduce the heat and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Pour the custard paste into the saucepan and whisk continuously until the mixture thickens. This will take a few minutes but make sure that the heat is on low so that the milk does not get scorched. Remove from heat and let the custard cool down completely. For best results refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours. Overnight is best.
Prepare the jelly:
1. Place the jelly powder in a heatproof bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Quickly stir until the powder dissolves completely.
2. Pour the cold water and mix. Allow to cool for a bit and then refrigerate until set. Depending on the brand used it could take anywhere between 2 hours to 24 hours to achieve the desired wobbliness of the jelly.
1. If you are using in regular bowls, just mix the jelly, custard and fruits and serve immediately
2. If you are using a fancy, tall glass or a serving bowl with a stem then you can layer the dessert as follows: approx 2 tablespoons of custard, then the jelly, a layer of fruits (as many as you like) followed by the final layer of custard. Garnish with raisins, nuts or mint leaves (optional) and serve
1. The instructions on the packet of custard that I used called for just 2 tablespoons each of the custard powder and sugar. However, this resulted in custard that was thin in consistency and very mildly sweet. If you like the custard to be thick (like the consistency of thick cream) then use 3 tablespoons of custard. Also, use 3 tablespoons of sugar and increase the sweetness if desired. Do note that the mixture when piping hot will not allow your tastebuds to make the right judgement, so cool the mixture a bit before tasting and then add additional sugar if required. It is recommended to make the custard moderately sweet as the sweetness from the jelly and the assorted fruits will also contribute to the overall sweetness of the dessert.
2. Most flavoured jellies are gelatin based. If you want to make a pure vegetarian version you can use agar-agar (seaweed) based jelly powder. Preparation and setting time may vary so please follow the instructions on the package.