"I was walking down the street, when I saw this orange light
A bright plump fruit, a rarity in sight,
I bought myself a few, and sank my teeth in
Ate more than I could handle, a fruit lovers' sin
And when I was done, I wrote it off forever
I had my fill, oh persimmons! never!
But it had to be rediscovered, a chef's win,
For a pudding and some, and new memories to begin..."
Ever since I can remember, I have disliked persimmons. What a way to start a recipe right? I know.
It's the classic tale of something I used to love as a child, probably overdosed on one season, and swore never to touch it again. It's amazing how memories remain embedded in your brain, enough to not want to taste that fruit/dish again, even though over time you forget why you disliked it in the first place. Such has been my relationship with this bright peach fruit - one of mysterious aversion.
After moving to the US, I saw persimmons everywhere in the winter. Food magazines & blogs talked about it's short lived season, how to convert it into all sorts of puddings, and its nutrient value. Needless to say, curiosity got the better of me and I went and bought myself 2 plump fruits. Yes, just 2. I take limited risk. And I also decided that it cannot be the centre of my dessert.
I went down the path of a classic kheer (indian rice pudding), with a Nutella twist (because who doesn't like Nutella!?) and replaced rice with amaranth or ramdana - a grain of much virtue and pretty common in India. To see what the hype is all about, I then topped up the chocolaty goodness with a dollop of this chopped fruit. Voila, I might be a convert. It's a fruit with subtle taste that lends a nice fresh crunch to a rich pudding. A pudding that will surely become a staple at the 29. kitchen.
1/2 cup Amaranth seeds
1 teaspoon ghee or unsalted butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar (adjust to taste)
4 pods of cardamom, crushed
2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons Nutella
2 persimmons, roughly chopped (use ones that are neither too hard nor too mushy. You should be able to cut them but not in perfect pieces)
Heat ghee or butter in a deep pan. Add the crushed cardamom and saute for a minute. Stir in the amaranth and cook till the grain is coated with ghee and some of the seeds begin to pop. Slowly add the milk (it might splutter!), mix well, and cook for 30-35 minutes on medium flame, stirring occasionally. Cook till the amaranth becomes soft and absorbs most of the milk. Remove from heat once you get a semi-thick pudding like consistency It will get thicker as it cools. Stir in the sugar and the Nutella. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
Once cooled, top with a tablespoon of chopped persimmons and serve chilled.
PS - Given the classification of Nutella toast and Amaranth porridge, I hereby certify this mixture of the two as ... breakfast. Go knock yourselves out!