Okay, I'll be totally frank here. Elegance, and me? Not often used in the same sentence. In my daily life I don't have many elegant experiences. I've spent most of my life working around men, first in Radio then as a Screenwriter. One picks up "habits." Yes, I cook. It's my passion, but when I cook, the sight is hardly elegant. Which is what I enjoyed about PFBs' #3 Challenge, or at least what I took to be my personal challenge: To put the elegance into the food and also to keep a calm, serene, non-sweaty exterior at the table after cooking it... well two out of three ain't bad.
But I do love to think of elegance. It's like the cookie jar that sits on the top shelf. I want to stick my grubby little mitt in it, but it usually lands on my head with a thunk. So this dinner was a very therapeutic experience for me.
One of the toughest things to deal with in planning any Indian dinner is... wait for it... The Dessert. Depending on the food and the spices involved, it can be a complicated process. One doesn't want anything to be too heavy, or too sweet after a duck main course, and yet one still must be elegant. The answer? Mango Mousse, the Panna Cotta of Indian desserts.
The dessert works on a lot of levels. It's sweet enough naturally, because of the mango, so very little sugar is needed. It's a light blending of whipped cream, gelatin and egg whites that sets up quickly in the fridge and can be made several hours ahead of time, which takes one big load off the would-be-elegant hostess' mind.
Want to try this fast and simple dessert? Here's what to do.
In a blender pulse together
1 cup of mango
1 tsp of ground cardamon
1 Tbs of lemon juice
2 Tbs of sugar (use less if your mango is sweet)
Puree it all together.
In two separate bowls whip
2 egg whites
1 cup of whipping cream
Beat them both into nice peaks.
Dissolves 1 and 1/2 packets of gelatine in 1/4 cup of warm water.
Whisk it together until it's blended, then add it to the mixture in the blender and mix it up well.
Make sure the gelatin is blended in well so your dessert doesn't get lumpy. That's not elegant.
In one big bowl, fold all three ingredients together gently as though you were making a souffle.
You can now put the mixture into individual small ramekins or bowls, or one large bowl.
Tuck it into the fridge until it's set, about 2 or 3 hours.
Then un-mold and serve.
This makes a truly elegant end to any elegant meal. It's a dessert that is light enough that you won't be unbuttoning your pants at the end of the meal which, let's face it is not elegant.
And my final word on elegance. By the time she'd finished her "dessert"...
...Patsy had removed all her "clothes"and fallen asleep on the dining room floor.