My dad’s favorite dessert is cheesecake. While the rest of us plan our meals around mains, he’s already sidled up to the dessert trolley. American style, Italian, and even Greens Original (the packet stuff): he loves them all. But this year, I thought I’d create a special sort of Indian cheesecake for him, using yogurt instead of cheese. This is a variation on a Bengali set yogurt called “mishti doi”; the finished dish tastes similar to cheesecake but is much lighter—still rich and creamy, just not as dense. The tamarind berries and nuts add a sharp and crunchy contrast.
Happy 65th birthday, Dad.
NOTES: You’ll need to make this a few hours ahead of serving so that the yogurt has time to set. You’ll also need four small ramekins.
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons condensed milk
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ cup ground almonds
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
¾ pound mixed berries (e.g. raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries)
1 teaspoon tamarind paste (or to taste)
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
Pour the yogurt, condensed milk, and heavy cream into a bowl and whisk until fully mixed, then divide between the ramekins.
Place the ramekins in a deep roasting pan and pour enough just-boiled water around them to reach two-thirds up their sides. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from the oven, leave to cool, and refrigerate for a couple of hours until set.
When set, put the almonds, butter, and 1½ teaspoons of sugar into a non-stick saucepan over medium heat. Stir continuously for a couple of minutes until the almonds start to brown and form big crumbs, then transfer to a bowl.
To make the tamarind berries, cut any larger berries (like strawberries) to the same size as the smaller ones. Put them in a saucepan along with 2 tablespoons of sugar, 3 tablespoons of water, and the tamarind paste. Heat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the berries start to soften. Taste, as you may need to add more sugar depending on your berries, then take off the heat.
You can serve the berries either warm or cold, but I prefer to serve them cold. To assemble the baked yogurts, spoon over the tamarind berries and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.