Basundi is a traditional Indian dessert famous in Maharashtra, Gujarat, and some parts of Karnataka. It is basically thickened milk flavored with cardamom and saffron. Serve it on its own or with poori for a delicious treat.
About This Recipe
Basundi is a traditional Indian dessert made using milk, cardamom, and sugar. It is made by cooking milk and saffron on low heat until is reduced and thickened. The reduced milk is then flavored with cardamom and rose water.
Basundi is rich, creamy, and has a lovely crunch in each bite from the nuts added to it.
It is popular in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Karnataka and is perfect to make for festivals or special occasions. Be it Holi, Diwali, Rakshabandhan, Gudi Padwa or Eid, this dessert will make it special for you. It is also a great dessert to make for fasting days (vrat) like Navratri, Shivratri or Ekadashi.
Although it is categorized as a dessert, basundi can also be served as a warm drink. It is also served as a part of thali meals along with puri in weddings.
Making this dessert is a super easy process, just that it is a little time-consuming. So I have a trick for it. I cook it when I am cooking my meals. Before starting to cook the other dishes, I put a pot with milk on simmer and by the time I am done with my cooking, my dessert is ready too.
Milk – Always use whole (full-fat) milk to make basundi. If you have access to water buffalo’s milk, it is the best as it has high-fat content making the basundi super creamy.
Saffron – Saffron is optional but highly recommended. It gives a lovely color, flavor, and aroma to this dessert.
Sugar – Adjust the sugar as per your taste. You can use sugar-free substitutes.
Ground Cardamom – Flavor the basundi with a little cardamom powder.
Rose Water – It gives a delicious flavor and aroma to basundi.
Others – Add a little nutmeg powder to it for a warm flavor. Add slivered nuts like almonds, cashew nuts and pistachios for a lovely crunch. Some people also add chirinji (chiroli) to their basundi.
How To Make Basundi
Add 1 and ½ liters of whole milk and a pinch of saffron strands to a non-stick heavy-bottomed and wide pan. Heat on medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Keep stirring while heating to avoid the milk from scorching at the bottom of the pan.
Once the milk comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 1-½ hours until the milk is reduced to more than half and is thickened and creamy.
The consistency of basundi is like a thin custard. Keep stirring very frequently while cooking. Don’t let cream (malai) form on top of the milk for a creamy basundi.
Tip – I suggest making it while you are doing other cooking. It will cook on the side and you will not have to stand to stir it separately.
Add 3 tablespoon sugar, ½ teaspoon ground cardamom, and ¼ teaspoon rose water to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove the pan from heat and cover it with a lid to avoid the formation of cream on top.
Tip – If you like your basundi very creamy and smooth, just pass it through a fine-mesh strainer before adding the nuts.
Garnish with slivered nuts and serve hot, warm or chilled.
Frequently Asked Questions
While both these desserts are made using the same ingredients, they are different in texture. Basundi is thinner than rabdi. The consistency of basundi is like a thin flowing custard while rabdi is thick and spoonable.
While making rabdi, the milk is left undisturbed while cooking for spans of 2-3 minutes. This helps in the formation of cream (malai) on top of the milk. The cream is mixed with the milk and eventually, the milk is thickened and loaded with cream. This process makes the rabdi chunky. Whereas, while making basundi, the milk is constantly stirred so that it thickens but remains smooth in texture.
If you want to make a quicker version, add some sweetened condensed milk to it. Make sure to reduce the amount of sugar as condensed milk is quite sweet by itself.
To make a vegan version, replace regular milk with any plant-based milk. I like to use almond milk as it gives a lovely nutty flavor to the dessert. Coconut milk is also a great option.
Although the classic version of Basundi tastes great, you can flavor it with various other ingredients for a taste change.
Add some mango puree to it to make Mango Basundi or Custard Apple Pulp to make Custard Apple Basundi. Other fruits pulps like Apple, Strawberry, Orange, Pineapple or Grapes, etc can also be added to it for a flavor change.
You can also add a mix of betel nut leaves (paan) and gulkand to it.
One of my favorite variations is Thandai Basundi. Make it by adding some Thandai Powder to the classic dessert.
Serve basundi in bowls as a dessert or in small glasses as a drink. It can be served hot, warm or chilled.
It tastes great on its own, so you can enjoy it whenever you want.
Basundi Puri is also a popular and traditional combination where hot and puffed Puri is served with it. Serve it hot or warm with fluffy poories.
Basundi will last in the fridge for about 3 to 4 days when stored in an airtight container. You can either serve it chilled or heat it until nice and warm in a pan or in the microwave.
It freezes well too. Cool it completely and transfer in a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3-4 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
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- 1 and ½ litres whole (full-fat) milk
- 1 pinch saffron strands
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar (adjust according to your taste)
- ½ teaspoon ground green cardamom
- ¼ teaspoon rose water
- Add milk and saffron strands to a non-stick heavy-bottomed and wide pan. Heat on medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Keep stirring while heating to avoid the milk from scorching at the bottom of the pan.
- Once the milk comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook for 1-½ hours until the milk is reduced to more than half and is thickened and creamy.
- The consistency of basundi is like a thin custard. Keep stirring very frequently while cooking. Don’t let cream (malai) form on top of the milk for a creamy basundi.
- Add sugar, ground cardamom, and rose water to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes until the sugar is dissolved.
- Remove the pan from heat and cover it with a lid to avoid the formation of cream on top.
- Garnish with slivered nuts and serve hot, warm, or chilled.