August 21, 2010

Saffron & Lemon Srikhand Cheesecake

Spill the beans. Where has the summer gone and what have you done with it? The delicious sunshine is hiding behind thick, imposing clouds. Hand me a vaporiser and I’ll do away with them. Can clouds be re-vaporised?

You know what my favourite way of holding on to summer with both hands is?

Cheesecake. Huge wedges that are bursting with indulgent summer flavours and velvety luxury, served up with a drizzle of delicious guilt. Stop drooling, it’s only a description.

One of my favourite Indian desserts is srikhand (pronounced: shree-khand). It is thick, sweet and sour yoghurt blended with cardamom, saffron and slivered nuts. Divine. So, why not blend my favourite flavours of srikhand with everyone’s favourite cheesy dessert? Thankfully I’m talking cream cheese and not cheddar.

I didn’t want the cheesecake to be exclusively srikhand flavoured because if I wanted pure, unadulterated srikhand, I would opt for that as a dessert instead of a cheesecake. Naturally. So I picked my favourite elements of srikhand as a dessert (sweet, sour, saffron) and whipped up a dessert to satisfy my srikhand and cheesecake cravings all in one go. I call it gluttonous wizardry. You can call me the dessert she-devil.

I’ve used my usual baked cheesecake recipe, adapted from Kurma Dasa’s Great Vegetarian Dishes. His recipe produces a mighty fine cheesecake and allows for oodles of flavour experimentation. My kind of thing.

That’s about a million pounds worth of saffron.

Saffron is a spice collected from the saffron crocus (a flower native to Southwest Asia) and has medicinal properties as well as culinary uses. It is predominantly used in Persian, Arabic, Mediterranean and South Asian cuisines, and it imparts a heady, earthy fragrance to dishes as well as a deep yellow hue. Always use it sparingly. By weight, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world and nobody can argue over prices when each crocus contains three single strands of pure saffron, handpicked by ever-patient and light-fingered saffron collectors. How many crocuses are needed for a coin sized amount of saffron? I wouldn’t dare to venture a guess.

Did you know?

-It is alleged that the name ‘saffron’ comes from the Arabic term ‘asfar’ meaning yellow in colour.

-Saffron crocuses only flower in mid-Autumn and the stigmas and styles must be harvested quickly after their dawn bloom.

Being thrown off the Spice Trail

Beware of saffron copycats. For years, saffron fakes have been abundant and it really isn’t easy to tell whether you’ve been conned out of your pennies (or should I say pounds?) or not.

Here are a few tips I always keep in mind:

-Always go to a reputable dealer or spice stockist

-To test if your saffron is real, soak a few strands in hot water. If yellow/orange dye comes off, leaving a white coloured strand then the saffron is bogus. This is a trick used by spice hustlers who use artificially dyed corn husk fibres to replace the delicate saffron strands. They won’t have a musky aroma and will be of no use. What a mistak-er to make-er. Bin them and don’t buy the same ones again.

-American and Mexican saffron is not the same as genuine saffron. It is made from safflower and has the same colour and appearance, but no taste or smell. Again, a pointless purchase.

-Once you find a genuine box/packet of good saffron, remember the brand and stick to it. In my opinion, Spanish ‘La Mancha’ saffron is the most wonderful (unless you happen to live near a pond full of saffron crocuses and pick your own). Do you think they do saffron P.Y.O’s? Maybe at Lakshmi Mittal’s pad.

-To get the most out of your saffron, place it in a bowl and microwave it on high for 10-15 seconds to lightly toast it and dry it out (be VERY careful and keep a watchful eye on it). Gently rub it through your fingers when you add it to your dish and it will release heaps of flavour and colour. Magic.

I love me a bit of cheesecake staining

Saffron & Lemon Srikhand Cheesecake
(serves 10-12)

For the base:
250g ginger nut biscuits (or graham crackers), crushed finely
1/3 cup melted butter

For the filling:
500g ricotta cheese
500g softened cream cheese (I used original Philadelphia)
1 1/3 cups double cream
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp cornflour
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ tsp lemon zest
¼ – ½ tsp saffron, toasted as directed above


1. Combine the crushed biscuits and melted butter and firmly pat it into the bottom of a greased 10-inch springform tin. Make sure it’s even and tightly compacted. Cover this with plastic wrap and refrigerate the whole thing.

2. For the filling: in a large bowl, beat together all of the ingredients (excluding the lemon zest and saffron) until it has thickened. Kurma suggests not to overmix this.

3. Fold in the lemon zest and saffron and place the mixture on top of the chilled biscuit base. Smooth the top down.

4. Place this in a preheated oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 1 ¼ hours or until firm and golden. If you find that the top of the cheesecake is going too brown, reduce the temperature and cook for a longer period of time.

5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Refrigerate for 8-10 hours before cutting and serving.



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41 responses to “Saffron & Lemon Srikhand Cheesecake”

  1. Kalyn says:

    What a gorgeous recipe. I love the idea of using saffron in cheesecake!

  2. Priya says:

    Omg, cant take my eyes from the click, irresistible cheesecake..

  3. Anncoo says:

    You're so creative! Never thought of adding saffron in cheesecake. Will definitely try this one day.
    Please feel free to visit my new site and join a little giveaway.

  4. saint bapu says:

    Bring it for me next week.

    as always Awesome…..Amazing……Thanxxxxx.

  5. Mina Joshi says:

    Wow the cake looks heavenly! Great recipe for cheesecake.

  6. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets says:

    I think I got one of those useless Mexican saffron packets last time I bought some, but thanks to your tips that should never happen again. Most Indian desserts sound heavenly to me and this srikhand-inspired cheesecake is no exception. And no, I will not stop drooling 8).

  7. T. The Destructor says:

    That looks heavenly. And, by the looks of the white strands now floating in the small bath of water, my Saffron (which, being American did buy from the supermarket) is fake. Total. I am so peeved.

  8. Pavithra says:

    Wow that looks damn tempting dear.. wish I am there to have a slice.. all the pictures are making me drool really.

  9. Ushnish Ghosh says:

    Dear sanjana
    How are you?
    I am sure you are going great guns with your internship and studies and enjoying too.
    I just saw the recipe name and the pictures , but will make this for sure and read it in detail when I am back from a trip to Taipei
    Have a great sunday

  10. Ragini Miranda says:

    That chesecake looks really tempting srikhand too and a combo of both with citurs flavors sounds awesome!! great work !!

  11. notyet100 says:

    u always come up with something,,which is out of the world,..this looks super yum,,

  12. Trix says:

    Saffron really is magic – so distinctive, yet somehow not overpowering. An inspired use of it here, my dear!!

  13. Prerna@IndianSimmer says:

    Hey Sanjana,
    Just stumbled upon your blog through some website and I have to say that I loved your work! Love the photography,love the recipe and loving the way the you write ๐Ÿ™‚
    Keep up the good work!

  14. Carol Egbert says:

    You have made a beautiful dessert. Thanks for the saffron information.

  15. Mr. P says:

    Oh my gosh WANT! That's an amazing idea, Sanju.

    I remember the hoo-har about Lakshmi Mittal's house in London when he paid whatever price it was a few years ago. He definitely has PYO saffron. Let's go check it out!

  16. Anonymous says:

    wow – very different and unusal combo – love it!

  17. penny aka jeroxie says:

    What a beautiful dessert. Love the photos and all the flavours

  18. Lav says:

    OMG looks so yummy !! Awesome click !! Tempting me !!


  19. 5 Star Foodie says:

    Gorgeous! Amazing flavors with saffron!

  20. Latha says:

    This looks absolutely divine! Amazing clicks.

  21. Sharmilee! :) says:

    Rich n yummy cake

  22. The Cilantropist says:

    This recipe looks fantastic, and I love how you have incorporated a traditional dish into cheesecake form, well done! ๐Ÿ™‚ I would really love to make Srikhand by itself since you make it sound so delectable, do you have any suggestions or recipes?

  23. The Housewife says:

    This looks and sounds so amazing Sanjana! Hats off to your creativity ๐Ÿ™‚ Its so great that you combined shrikhand and cheesecakeโ€ฆ genius!

  24. Jhonny walker says:

    You are a whizzz…who would have thought of Saffron in a cheesecake! I have to try this one…fantastic images and a great recipe. Kudos to you ๐Ÿ™‚

  25. Mae says:

    Wow that's pretty… you have the best colors in your dishes, out of pretty much all the blogs I read, you know. Lover-er-ly!

  26. A Little Yumminess says:

    This looks so yum…love the idea of a srikhand cheesecake

  27. arundati says:

    just found you through a FF on twitter! glad i came here. you have a delightful blog! adding you to my reader list

  28. DEESHA says:

    wow, this is a lovely dessert

  29. Sanjana says:

    Hey everyone, thank you so much for the fantastic comments. So sorry it has taken so long for me to reply to them! I really do appreciate you all taking the time to send them!

    Cilantrpist- Srikhand is super easy to prepare. I hope to do a proper recipe for it soon but in the meantime I hope these instructions help!

    1. Hang around 5 cups of Greek yogurt in a cheesecloth and let the water drain for around 24 hours.

    2. Place the yogurt in a bowl and mix in 1 cup icing (confectioners) sugar.

    3. Press the mixture through a fine holed sieve into a large bowl. This is where is gets really messy and really delicious!

    4. Add around 2 tsp ground cardamom, a pinch of saffron and a tiny pinch of ground mace. Add 1 cup chopped mandarins if you like.

    5. Chill for 4 hours and serve with your favourite soft fruits. Mangoes, summer berries, peaches and passionfruit are my fruits of choice.


  30. Ms. Humble says:

    Looking for a veg recipe for dinner tomorrow and what do I spot, an egg-less cheesecake!

    It looks amazing!

  31. Sanjana says:

    Ms. Humble- Thanks for your comment. Hope it goes well for you. This cheesecake recipe never fails me (well, it did once when I forgot to add the essential lemon juice) but that's another story. Enjoy!

  32. T.K says:

    this cheesecake made me say ooo and aaahs! cheesecake is my favorite dessert and i love it that u used ricotta to add a healthy touch, and the saffron idea is amazing. greatttt recipe!! will try it. did you come up with it on your own?

  33. Sanjana says:

    T.K- the idea for the flavour was mine as I love shrikhand and I love cheesecake. However, the recicpe for eggless baked cheesecake originally comes from Kurma Dasa, the famous vegetarian chef. For more delicious veggie recipes check out Great Vegetarian Dishes, Cooking with Kurma and Quick Vegetarian Dishes- those books are truly wonderful!

  34. says:

    wow very innovative looks devine.

  35. Amrita Datta says:

    This looks like such an exquisite cheesecake. The best I have come across.
    Will use it as an inspiration to make an orange-almond one.

  36. kashish says:

    ricotta cheese is not available easily where I stay is it possible to replace it with any other cheese or the homemade ricotta cheese that I saw on the web

    • Sanjana says:

      Kashish, I’ve never tried with homemade ricotta. I’d guess you’d need to ensure it was well drained. Lots of luck – I hope it turns out well for you.

  37. Priti says:

    I’ve made this a few times now and people go nuts for it! Love it…

  38. Mala says:

    I treated my parents to this delicacy (and a few others from your blog) for Diwali – pure bliss! Saal Mubarak, Sanjana!

  39. Helina says:

    This is delicious! This recipe of yours is on my baking list to make.
    Can I use corn starch instead of flour? Thank You! ๐Ÿ™‚

  40. […] the past, I’ve successfully combined the two to make cheesecakes and seeroh (sweet semolina) which were both delicious. This time, I wanted to give a simple cupcake […]

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