Like many other European colonial powers, France had a few territories in India, most notably in Pondichéry, Chandernagor in Bengal or the port city of Karaikal. France and India therefore have a long history together which lasts to this date. During the last defilé du quatorze juillet on the Champs-Elysées, India was the guest of honour of the traditional military parade, with 400 Indian soldiers joining the French army and the Grandes Ecoles students under the watchful eye of Manmohan Singh, India’s Prime Minister.
The connection between France and India is much more broad than their shared history and economic ties. Like so many other colonial relationships, once the cord is severed, one of the most lasting impressions is the intertwining of the two nations’ culinary sensibilities. Nobody exemplifies this better than Raji Jallepalli, whose cookbook, Raji Cuisine: Indian Flavors, French Passion is my bible for combining classic French cooking techniques and the flavours of Indian spices into amazing Indo-French fusion dishes. One of my favourite recipes from the cookbook, and probably one of the easiest to make, is this Cardamom Crème Brûlée.
Cardamom Crème Brûlée
Recipe adapted from Raji Cuisine
Serves 6-8 depending on size of ramequins
Egg yolks 6
Half a cup of sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp freshly ground cardamom
A few drops of vanilla essence
Light brown sugar to create the caramel crust
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine eggs and sugar to form a smooth mixture.
Heat heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat. Don’t let it boil but when small bubbles start to form along the edges of the pot, remove from heat. Slowly stream cream into egg mixture, whisking continuously. If you do this too fast the eggs will cook so you really want to take your time with this step. When all the cream has been streamed, add cardamom and vanilla. Combine thoroughly and strain into another dish.
Fill baking dish halfway with boiling water and place your ramequins into dish. Divide crème brûlée mixture evenly into ramequins and bake in oven for about 30 minutes or until set. Remove and cool, then keep in fridge for at least 3 hours.
When you are ready to serve your brûlées, sprinkle top of each ramequin with thin layer of brown sugar. Preheat your oven’s broiler and cook the custards for a short time, or until brown sugar turns into the dessert’s signature caramel crust.
Enjoy after your favourite curry for a delicious Indian twist to a traditional French dessert.