I mentioned in my previous post that I am a movie buff. Well I have been enamored by one particular Hindi movie off late. It’s an oldie and in its time it was mega hit. I remember seeing it as a child and being somewhat horrified at the ending. Well who likes tragic endings, right? Especially not a ten year old.
The movie is called Mughal-E-Azam and it is about love. Which Hindi is film is not?! But this one was about an epic love story. And the lead role of the dancing girl was played by one of the most beautiful Indian women. The Marilyn Monroe of Indian cinema. She was the epitome of tragedy herself when she died at a very young age. As a child I adored her.
There is great controversy about whether this story is true or not but I think historians across the board believe it is fictional. It doesn’t really matter if it is indeed fictional, because it is about the story. And it is a beautiful one about a dancing girl that dares fall in love with a Prince. And her love is reciprocated no less. She dares to the point that she defies the Emperor Akbar in a legendary song that I think every Indian has heard at some point. Openly declaring her love for Akbar’s son, telling the world to love fiercely, without fear and never to be apologetic. She says this as she faces her impending death at having dared to say it out loud and with so much pride.
It is a story of courage and much love. Tangled with lots of drama. We Indians need a slice of that with every meal! 🙂
Now there is a small connection between undying love for a man and coconuts. It is small but it is there. Because it is a love that is not static or works on one plane. We must agree that love keeps us alive. I may be stretching this a little but humor me. Coconuts are fruits that are so multi-dimensional. You drink its juice and eat its soft flesh when its scorching outside. And you (or at least me) use it in winter dishes. Its oil is considered one of the most healthy things to be had. And almost always its flavor remains dominant. We don’t even try to mask its flavor with spices. We love it just the way it is.
That’s what love should be about. Loving someone for exactly who they are. A love that transcends us. The ability to treasure one another despite all odds and shortcomings. That is the greatest love for another human being. A love I aspire to. Life is the coconut. We should enjoy it for what it is. And the coconut oil that’s what we make of it.
Did that even make any sense! Huh?
I’m told I’m a little crazy. Oh and I live on Utopia!
Come visit me there sometime. Its like the happiest place on… wherever! 🙂
- For the Crust
- 1 cup blanched almonds, toasted and cooled
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 cups fine fresh bread crumbs (from 6 to 7 slices firm white sandwich bread)
- 150 grams unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
- For the Filling
- 2 fresh brown coconut
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 3 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ⅔ cups slivered blanched almonds, toasted + ¼ cup for decoration
- For the Prickly Pear Sauce
- 3 prickly pears
- 1-2 tbsps lime juice
- 3 tbsps sugar
- 2 tbsps rum (optional)
- To make the crust finely grind the almonds with sugar in a food processor. Add the bread crumbs and pulse until combined. Transfer to a bowl and add the butter, working the mixture till it comes together. Press, evenly over bottom and up side of the tart pan. Chill tart shells while making filling.
- For the filling, first put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F/205°C.
- Pierce softest eye of the coconuts with a small screwdriver and drain liquid through a sieve into a bowl and reserve. (If it tastes sweet, the coconut is fresh; if it tastes off, the coconut is rancid and should be discarded.) Bake coconut 15 minutes, then cool, until it can be handled.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350°F/175°C.
- Break shell of coconuts with a hammer, then remove flesh with point of a strong knife, levering it out carefully. Remove brown skin with a sharp knife. Shred coconut in a clean food processor or hand-grate with medium-size holes of a box grater. Measure 2½ cups loosely packed coconut and reserve. Transfer remaining coconut to a pan and dry roast for a couple of minutes, stirring regularly, until slightly golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool.
- Bring reserved coconut liquid, cream, and sugar to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, until reduced to about 2 cups, 25 to 35 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl, then stir in reserved 2½ cups untoasted coconut, yolks, vanilla, and reserved toasted almonds (2/3 cup) until combined well.
- Put tart pan on a large baking sheet, then spoon coconut filling evenly into shells, stirring filling in between additions to get even amounts of solids and liquid and bake until filling is set and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool tart on a rack.
- For the prickly pear sauce: Wearing rubber gloves, cut a ½-inch slice off both ends of each pear, then make a ½-inch-deep incision with a paring knife down side of each pear. Scoop out the flesh. Coarsely chop flesh, then purée. Sieve through a medium-mesh sieve into a bowl using a rubber spatula.
- Bring half the purée and 3 tablespoons sugar to a simmer in a heavy saucepan, stirring, then simmer briskly, stirring frequently, until reduced to ½ cup, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer purée to a bowl, then cool to room temperature and stir in uncooked purée. Season to taste with lime juice, additional sugar, and rum (if using).
- Using tip of a knife, loosen edge of 1 tart crust from pan, then invert tart into your hand, removing pan, and transfer tart, right side up, to a serving plate. Liberally sprinkle the remaining toasted coconut and slivered almonds. Drizzle the prickly pear sauce in whichever quantity you like.
- Dust with powdered sugar.
- Serve with a hot cup of tea or coffee.