Kesar Elaichi Shrikhand is a traditional Indian dessert made using sweetened yogurt flavored with ground cardamom and sugar. Make it by thickening plain yogurt or take a shortcut and make it using Greek yogurt, the choice is yours (vegetarian, gluten-free).
About Kesar Elaichi Shrikhand
Kesar Elaichi Shrikhand is a traditional Indian dessert that is widely popular in the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. It is thickened and sweetened yogurt flavored with cardamom and saffron.
This no-cook, no-fail, creamy, thick, dense, and silky smooth dessert tastes like tart cheesecake filling, creamy mousse, or a thick pudding.
Shrikhand is also popular in Karnataka but it goes by the name Shikarni or Shikharini.
It is best enjoyed with hot puffed pooris in summer and is a must in Maharashtrian and Gujarati thali meals and weddings. It is also served at festivals like Gudi Padwa and Ganesh Chaturthi and is made for special occasions like anniversaries or birthdays.
Homemade shrikhand is made using just 6 ingredients and it comes together in under 15 minutes of active work time.
It is also free of any additives and artificial colors as opposed to the store-bought one.
All you have to do to make a delicious shrikhand at home is to thicken the plain yogurt.
Yogurt is hung in a cloth so that all the extra liquid in it drips down and you get thick creamy yogurt which is also called Chakka or hung curd.
Traditionally, a device called puran yantra (similar to a food mill) was used to make chakka but you can use a muslin cloth or cheesecloth and make it.
Chakka makes the base of the shrikhand which can then be flavored with your choice of flavorings, the most common being sugar, ground cardamom, and saffron.
To save time, you can use Greek yogurt in place of plain yogurt. Greek yogurt is already quite thick and there is no need to hang it.
The recipe to make shrikhand is vegetarian and gluten-free. You can easily scale this recipe up or down.
If you like Indian desserts, here are some more for you
- Bread Halwa
- Mango Burfi
- Gulab Jamun
- Til Mawa Laddoo
- Sabudana Kheer
- Rice Kheer
This delicious dessert uses a few basic ingredients.
Yogurt (Dahi, Curd) – Use whole milk plain yogurt to make creamy shrikhand.
To fasten the process you can use plain Greek yogurt. It is already quite thick so you don’t have to hang it. Make sure to use full-fat Greek yogurt to make this creamy dessert.
If using homemade yogurt, make sure it has not gone sour.
Sugar – You will need powdered sugar to sweeten the shrikhand.
Don’t use store-bought powdered sugar (confectioner’s sugar). It has cornstarch added to it which can affect the overall taste.
Powder the regular granulated white sugar in a grinder at home and then use it.
Add more or less sugar depending on how sweet you like it.
If you are looking for a healthy substitute, then go for powdered coconut sugar, pureed dates, palm jaggery, or artificial sweeteners like stevia or monk fruit.
Flavoring – I have used saffron strands (kesar) and green cardamom powder (elaichi powder) to flavor my shrikhand but you can flavor it with your choice of flavorings. I have mentioned a few examples in the post below.
For the best flavor, grind the cardamom fresh. You can use a mortar and pestle to grind it.
Nuts – Garnish it with slivered nuts such as almonds, pistachios, and cashew nuts.
How To Make Kesar Elaichi Shrikhand
Make Saffron Infused Milk
Soak 15-20 strands of saffron in 2 tablespoon warm milk for 3-4 hours.
Using saffron to flavor the shrikhand is optional. Skip this step if you are not using it.
Make Thickened Yogurt (Chakka)
Keep a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and line it with a muslin cloth, paper towels, or a cheesecloth.
There should be some gap between the bottom of the bowl and the bottom of the strainer for the liquid to collect.
Add 1 pound (500 g) of plain yogurt to the strainer and cover the yogurt with the cloth hanging on the side.
Keep the bowl in the refrigerator for 5-6 hours or overnight to drain.
The excess liquid will drip down into the bowl and you will be left with thick creamy yogurt called chakka.
If using Greek yogurt, you can skip the process of hanging it and use it directly.
Tip – Use the whey (liquid) that is collected in the bowl to knead the dough or in curries. It is loaded with nutrients and should never be wasted.
Transfer the thick yogurt to a mixing bowl.
Add ½ cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cardamom, and saffron soaked in milk and whisk using a wire whisk until combined and creamy.
Chill the shrikhand for 2-3 hours for the flavors to mingle well. Transfer it to the serving bowls and garnish with slivered dry fruits. Serve!
Tip – Use a silicon spatula to gather all the shrikhand on the bowl.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! You can use coconut or any dairy-free yogurt instead of plain yogurt to make it vegan.
To make it with Greek yogurt, just substitute thickened yogurt with Greek yogurt. You do not have to strain the whey from the Greek yogurt, as it is already dense and thick.
Do not throw the collected whey you get after you hang the yogurt. The strained water is quite nutritious and can be used to make the dough for roti/paratha, in gravies, rice dishes, lentils, etc. It does add a nice tangy flavor to the recipes. It is also great for your house plants. Sprinkle it over the plants for their healthy growth.
Although traditional shrikhand flavored with cardamom and saffron tastes the best, you can try some variations once in a while. Listing some of my favorite flavorings below.
Fruity– Use seasonal fruits like mango, chikoo (sapota), sharifa (custard apple), strawberry, java plum (jamun), etc. to flavor the shrikhand. You can either puree the fruits or chop them finely. Mango shrikhand (amrakhand) is my favorite fruity variation.
Rose – Add rose syrup to make a rose-flavored version.
Tiramisu – For all coffee lovers, this one is really unique. Add some coffee liquor along with instant coffee powder to chakka and you will have your tiramisu shrikhand ready.
Dates – Soak seedless dates in some water and microwave until softened. Now puree them until smooth and add the dates puree to the chakka. You will have sugar-free naturally sweetened shrikhand ready.
Chocolate – Melted chocolate mixed with hung curd makes a nice chocolate shrikhand.
Make sure to make the saffron cardamom shrikhand a few hours prior to serving for the flavors to come together.
Shrikhand Poori is a classic and popular combination however you can serve it on its own as dessert.
As it is a light dessert, we like to enjoy it after our everyday meals too.
Other than enjoying it with poori or on its own, you can use this popular Indian dessert in tarts, pies, cheesecake, parfaits, etc to make fusion desserts.
It is actually great to prepare shrikhand ahead of time and store it in the fridge so that it firms up a little bit more.
And it tastes great when served chilled. It will last for about a week in a clean and dry airtight container.
Use a clean and dry spoon to take out shrikhand every time.
It is also freezer-friendly! You can freeze the leftover shrikhand in a freezer-safe air-tight container for up to 2 months.
Thaw it overnight in the fridge and enjoy. It might change its texture a bit while thawing but stir it well before consuming.
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Kesar Elaichi Shrikhand Recipe (Sweetened Yogurt Dessert)
- 15-20 strands saffron (kesar)
- 2 tablespoons warm milk
- 1 pound plain yogurt (dahi, curd) (500 g)
- ½ cup powdered sugar (not confectioner's sugar. Grind the regular sugar in a grinder to make powdered sugar.)
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 tablespoons almond and pistachio slivers (for garnishing)
Make Saffron Infused Milk
- Soak saffron in warm milk for 3-4 hours.
- Using saffron to flavor the shrikhand is optional. Skip this step if you are not using it.
Make Thickened Yogurt (Chakka)
- Keep a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and line it with a muslin cloth, paper towels, or a cheesecloth. There should be some gap between the bottom of the bowl and the bottom of the strainer for the liquid to collect.
- Add yogurt to the strainer and cover the yogurt with the cloth hanging on the side.
- Keep the bowl in the refrigerator for 5-6 hours or overnight to drain.
- The excess liquid will drip down in the bowl and you will be left with thick creamy yogurt called chakka.
- If using Greek yogurt, you can skip the process of hanging and use it directly.
- Transfer the thickened yogurt to a mixing bowl.
- Add powdered sugar, ground cardamom, and saffron soaked in milk and whisk using a wire whisk until combined and creamy.
- Chill the shrikhand for 2-3 hours for the flavors to mingle well. Transfer it to the serving bowls and garnish with slivered dry fruits. Serve!
- Tip – Use a silicon spatula to gather all the shrikhand on the bowl.