For a long time, I have wanted to use basil (my favourite herb) in a dessert, and what better way to start with one of my favourite desserts- Panna Cotta.
Panna cotta is just cooked cream, set using gelatine, so it’s quite simple to meld flavours in its non complex taste.
As children we used to make this chutney of Tulsi aka Holy Basil with honey using a silbatta (a flat form of a mortar and pestle where sil-flat stone and batta-cylindrical grinding stone).
That got me thinking, that instead of going for the basil that I use, to make my pesto and tomato sauce, why not opt for Holy Basil (tulsi). Holy basil is found is a lot of households in India for its religious significance.
Another benefit was that it would save me a trip to market…oh yeah I am that lazy.
I plucked a handful of leaves from the plant and steeped it in cream to infuse the basil flavour. Also made a very thin honey syrup to go along with the panna cotta. The syrup should be quite diluted so that there is just a hint of honey otherwise it becomes too sweet.
The panna cotta should not be rubbery and stiff but should have the adequate amount of gelatine to hold the shape.
The lovely green speckled panna cotta was silky smooth and just wobbly enough to melt on the tongue. The basil and honey combination worked well.
For garnish I coated some basil chiffonades with corn flour and deep fried them. This gives a nice crunchy contrast to the silkiness of the panna cotta.
Tulsi/ (Holy) Basil Panna Cotta Recipe
- 200 gm cream (I used single cream)
- 30 gm sugar
- 10 gm basil leaves/ tulsi leaves (extra for garnish)
- 4gm gelatine granules
- 2tbsp honey
- ¼ cup water
- In a pan add the cream and sugar and basil leaves (roughly torn) and ground the remaining basil in a mortar.
- Heat the cream till simmering. Switch off the flame and let the cream sit for about 30-40 minutes to infuse the basil flavour.
- With a hand blender, blend the cream mixture to turn the roughly torn leaves into small speckles and strain it.
- Soak the gelatine for a few minutes in cold water and then melt it over water. Take care to not burn the gelatine.
- Add the gelatine to the cream mixture and stir it to distribute the gelatine evenly.
- Add the mixture to moulds or small glasses and refrigerate for 1.5-2 hours.
- For the honey syrup just add honey and water to a pan and let it come to a simmer and turn off. Refrigerate.
- Demould the panna cotta and serve with honey syrup.