Janmashthami, the birthday of Lord Krishna, is a major celebration among the Hindu community and members of the ISKCON society. The 8th Avatar of Lord Vishnu, Krishna was born to Devki and Vasudev in Mathura around midnight. This is why devotees stay up all night chanting the Lord’s name and the celebrations culminate in the early hours of the morning with a grand feast. After his birth, Krishna was raised by Yashoda and Nanda in the small village of Gokul where he is said to have performed both childhood antics and miracles.
As a child, Lord Krishna had a fondness for homemade butter and is also known as makhan chor/butter thief. On the auspicious occasion of Janmasthami, devotees in all Krishna temples make bhog/offerings from milk derivatives. Shrikhand is one such delicious milk-based dessert traditionally served in earthen pots. It is made by the simple technique of straining yogurt through a layer of cheesecloth to remove the liquid whey. The thick and creamy curd left behind is whipped with powdered sugar to give the smooth, mousse-like texture and is typically flavoured with sweet spices like saffron, cardamom or nutmeg.
3 cups plain unsweetened yogurt
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/8 teaspoon saffron strands
1 teaspoon rose water
2-3 green cardamom pods
1 tablespoon pistachios
- Place yogurt in 2 layers of thin cloth and secure with a food clip. Place in a large colander set over a deep bowl.
- Keep yogurt in fridge and allow to drain for at least 5 hours or overnight until most of the whey drips into the bowl.
- Scrape the drained yogurt into a clean bowl. It should be thick and have reduced to about half its original volume.
- Add confectioner’s sugar. Whip well until completely dissolved and the mixture develops a mousse-like consistency.
- Soak saffron strands in rose water until dissolved. Add saffron to the yogurt mixture and beat until well incorporated.
- Chill for at least 1 hour before serving. Top with crushed cardamom seeds and chopped pistachios. Makes 5-6 servings.