Toast of the Shah
6 slices firm bread, cut thick as for toasting
4-6 tablespoons ghee
300 ml/10 fl oz milk
250 ml/8 fl oz cream
1/4 teaspoon saffron strands
250 g/8 oz/1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 tablespoon rose water
1 tablespoon each slivered blanched pistachios and almonds
Trim crusts off the bread and if slices are large, cut in halves. Heat ghee in a large, heavy frying pan and fry the bread until golden on both sides. It may be necessary to add more ghee. Remove slices of fried bread to a plate.
Reserve 2 tablespoons milk and add remaining milk and cream to the pan in which the bread was fried. Bring to the boil and add the sugar. Toast saffron strands in a dry pan for about 1 minute over gentle heat, taking care not to scorch them. Tip onto a saucer to cool and become crisp, then crush with the back of a spoon. Heat reserved milk and dissolve the saffron in it. Add to simmering milk in pan and boil hard, stirring constantly, for 10 minutes.
Put in the slices of fried bread in one layer and simmer over low heat until milk is absorbed, carefully turning slices once. Transfer bread to a heated serving dish, sprinkle with cardamom and rose water and decorate with slivered nuts. Serve hot.
Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)