I’m a frequent shopper at all the new health food stores popping up around the city, not because I’m looking to replace anything in my kitchen, but rather to look at all the interesting substitutes available that has potential to be used differently. Take nutritional yeast, for example, the stuff tastes like cheese, which is great for vegans I suppose, but I don’t think I could ever do without my parm. For the gluten-free diet, you’ll find the choices of flour almost dizzying- there’s everything from millet flour, ragi, corn and buckwheat to more interesting choices like water chestnut, soyabean and sama (barnyard millet). They all follow different and very interesting uses as Alice Medrich highlighted in her tome Flavor Flours, which has quite a few interesting recipes such as Rice flour chiffon cake, buckwheat Linzer cookies and a carrot cake made with oat flavour. Using this book as a starting point, a few Navratris ago, I developed a recipe for a buckwheat tart with caramelised sama rice kheer, rose, cardamom, pistachios and pomegranates. It’s quite an incredible dessert to present to guests during this festive season.
Buckwheat Tart With Caramelised Sama (Barnyard Millet) Kheer
Yield 8 servings
The Maillard reaction that the milk undergoes in the pressure cooker results in a rice kheer with notes of caramel, only made better with rose water, cardamom, pistachios and pomegranate seeds. Pair this with an earthy buckwheat crust for a delicious Navratri dessert.
Buckwheat flour 100g
Rice flour or Sama rice flour 50g
Ground cardamom powder 1/2 tsp
Melted Ghee or butter 25g
The Rice Kheer (this will make more than you need for one tart)
Sama rice 1 1/4 cup , soaked for an hour
Boiled Milk 1 litre
Sugar 6-7 tbsp
Cardamom powder 3/4 tsp, if freshly ground 1/2 tsp will also do
Rose water 1 tbsp
Pistachios 2 tbsp, slivers
Pomegranate seeds 2 tbsp
In a bowl, mix together the honey, melted ghee, milk and cardamom powder. Add in the rice flour first, followed by the buckwheat flour bit by bit until it comes together as a ball that’s not sticky. If it’s sticky, adjust the buckwheat flour. Once it comes together, wrap it in clingfilm and leave in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes, but it will definitely be better if left overnight.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius. Roll out the chilled dough and line a fluted tart shell with the dough, folding the overhang dough into itself to form a nice crust. Use a fork to pierce the base of the dough repeatedly. Transfer to the freezer and let the dough freeze for 30 minutes. Once it’s done freezing, line the cavity with a piece of buttered aluminium foil. Butter the shiny side of the aluminium foil and lay the buttered side down in the cavity of the tart. Transfer to the oven to bake for 10 minutes. After that, take the piece of foil out and return to the oven to continue to cook for another 8-10 minutes, or till the shell has cooked completely. Once out of the oven, let the tart shell cool.
Take a large pan (preferably steel) that will fit 1 litre of milk and fit snugly into your pressure cooker. In your large pressure cooker, add about a cup of water and place a steel stand at the base of the cooker. Place the pan over and add to this 1 litre of milk. Drain the sama rice from its water and add the rice to the boiled milk. Add the cardamom powder and place the cooker on high flame. Shut the cooker and place over a high flame and let the pressure build up inside until the time that it might whistle any minute. Immediately turn the heat down, not letting it whistle. Leave this undisturbed for 45 minutes.
When the pressure releases, open the cooker and add in the sugar to the kheer and use a wooden muddler to break the cooked grain further, which helps the sama rice thicken the kheer. In case you're not happy with the consistency, take the pan out and put it back on the flame and reduce it till it is of a not-too-thin consistency, but just enough. Let this cool a bit before adding in the rose water and stirring. Remember that the kheer will thicken further as it cools. Transfer the kheer to the ready tart shell using an offset spatula to carefully pry it towards the edges of the pastry. Top the tart with crushed rose petals, slivers of pistachios and pomegranate seeds and serve, or keep chilled.