We Parsis love our sweets. Or, ‘Mouth Repair’ as we call it. And while we love our cakes and chocolates if there is one dessert that is bound to almost simultaneously unite yet divide the Bawas it’s got to be custard.
Our love for custard runs so deep that at Parsi New Year, you will find caterers serving a range of new and old dishes in a bid to compete with each other. But, unanimously almost all of us serve custard for dessert. There’s no variation from year to year and the same is the case at Parsi weddings too. The only small change may be the addition of cake or ice-cream to go alongside the custard.
Given the decidedly European origin of custard, it’s unclear how both the Lagan nu Custard and the Caramel Custard became a Parsi phenomenon. I am convinced it has a lot to do with the fact that the Parsis adore all things British and in the colonial era adopted a lot of their dishes as our own. The Parsi Chapat too is a take on the pancake for example.
Traditionally served at weddings, the Lagan nu Custard is a twist on the baked English custard and is made Parsi with the addition of charoli (almond-flavoured seeds), cashews, nutmeg and cardamom. In contrast, the Caramel Custard is normally steamed in a pressure cooker and fans love it for the bitter caramel top that provides the perfect foil to the sweet custard.
When writing this post I asked a bunch of people, which version they prefer, and I realised that much like Game of Thrones, each King has its own army of loyal followers that will fight to ensure their Custard wins.
For example food & travel writer Roxanne Bamboat better known as The Tiny Taster said, “Nothing beats a Caramel Custard that has the perfect wobble and comes swimming in bitter caramel syrup”. However, food blogger Shanti Petiwala, who writes at Riot of Flavours feels, “There's a certain intensity about Lagan nu Custard that no caramel custard can deliver. This rich dessert, which definitely needs to have the right amount of sweetness ticks all the right boxes when it comes to texture and taste. And the best part is those crusty sides - almost burnt, a little chewy but absolutely delicious!
What’s amazing though is that almost all Custard fans felt that their grandma’s made the best custard and the ones available at Irani cafés around Mumbai today are a poor imitation with many being quite eggy or lacking the intensity of the custard made at home with lots of love.
So, which camp do you belong to? And, if you’re undecided, here’s a video on how you can make my tried and tested Lagan nu Custard at home.