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Hyderabadi bread pudding (Double ka Meetha)

This is a Mughal dish that has been attributed back to the reign of Babur in the 16th century. This version is slightly different from the Northern "Shahi Tukda" (meaning royal pieces) where the bread is also seasoned with other spices, cardamom in particular and topped with cream or rabdi (sweetened cream) making it a much richer dessert. Both of these desserts are of Mughul origin and seemed to take on regional variations as they travelled across the sub-continent.

The name Double ka meetha also arises from the fact that bread in Hyderabad is called "Double ka roti" as it rises to double its size when baked. As an extension, this mithai was named after the bread it is made from.

This is not your everyday bread pudding! This is a family recipe that my mother learned from a friend when she married my Hyderabadi father over 60 years ago. As was the norm, she was taught numerous recipes from the family and friends and this was one of the recipes. I have enjoyed this dessert as a child, and the commercial Double ka Meetha just does not cut it anymore.

The recipe steps away from the normal Hyderabadi Double ka meetha into a simpler dish that is so much better. The magic lies in the contrast of textures and the delicate sweetness of the dessert. The dessert has very few flavours, saffron and the richness of ghee. The perfect texture is what makes it delicious, crisp on the outside and gooey and rich on the inside, the bread bread pieces are rich and decadent. Topped with slivered nuts, this is a dessert that takes me back to my childhood. Compared to the Northern Shahi Tukda that is more mushy and richer, this dessert is the perfect balance.

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Ingredients:

1-1 1/2 cups sugar

1 1/2 cups full-fat milk

1 cup water

A generous pinch saffron threads


3 slices white bread or brioche, cut on the diagonal

Ghee

Vegetable oil


1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup slivered almonds and pistachios


Bring the sugar, milk, water and saffron to a boil. Simmer gently for 20 minutes till the milk has thickened considerably to a sweet syrup.


Layer a mix of ghee and oil in a non-stick frying pan. Heat to high and fry two pieces of the bread is well browned, about 1 minute per side. Remove and drain on paper towels.


Add the bread in a single layer to a flame-proof baking tray. Top with the saffron milk making sure to pour the milk over the tops and allow the bread to soak up the liquids for 30 minutes. The bread will become soft and the liquids will reduce significant;y. Add the raisins and allow them to soak in the milk.


There are now 2 methods to finish the dessert.

Method 1: Stove-top

Cook the dessert over an open low flame till the milk is completely absorbed, about 3-5 minutes. The bread should be dry and crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside.


Method 2: Oven

Heat the oven to 375 F.


Bake the tray for 12-15 minutes till the milk is completely dry and the tops are crisped. The insides should be soft and gooey.


Serve hot or warm garnished with nuts.


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