(Rats. Here I wanted to declare proudly something about blowing my own trumpet, but it just sounded wrong. Damn corrupted innocence.)
An experiment that worked wonderfully then. An imagined recipe created from the sweet-sour memory of a buttery tamarind toffee, from a love of coconut milk and a desire for panna cotta. A melange of the traditional French crème caramel and the more challenging Indian flavours.
Tamarinds are a little like dates – sticky fruit, tough seeds – but with a puckery sharp tang that prompts confusion, another taste, and finally pleasure. But they are a devil to separate from their pips. In the end I unceremoniously dumped half a packet into a saucepan with a scoop of sugar and half a cup of water. The fruit reluctantly melted into a sugary lava – still with that hint of lemony spice – from which I pried a few spoonfuls, enough to coat the bottom of a baking dish with this makeshift caramel.
I googled flan recipes until I found a combination that would suit me – tweaking to allow for coconut milk and a less obscene amount of eggs – added some coconut rum and blended it all together. Put it in the oven for an hour and crossed my fingers. Turned it upside down later despite being a little drunk. It was perfect, just wobbly enough and so smooth. The tamarind did not scare off the guests at my supposedly “indonesian” dinner. They were very appreciative. (Or they are just very polite creatures).
No recipe yet. Because I made it up, I will have to bake it again and write down the proper quantities. A terrible sacrifice.