I was determined to send in an entry to think spice….an event started by Sunita which i have always followed, but never sent in an entry……it would be a shame since the chosen spice this month Star anise is my all time favourite spice…..you can read more about it here… and here too.. I first discovered star anise in a wonderfully aromatic steamed rice preparation called “bamboo rice” (steamed rice with seasonings, vegetables and meat steamed in a bamboo that gives imparts the flavor of bamboo to the rice) at a Chinese eatery in hyderabad called Chinese pavilion, tucked away in such a location, had someone not pointed it out to me and told me the food there was fabulous, I’d have never discovered this fabulous place, nor fallen in love with star anise……a friend at work drew a map for me and asked me to visit sometime…she also (thankfully) threw in that she loved their preparation of ‘bamboo rice and rainbow chicken’…..i am a Chinese food junkie….i can eat good bad or even ugly Chinese food and not complain….i was not disappointed….. K and I were dating when we discovered Chinese pavilion, and we have spent loads of time over many wondrous meals….but bamboo rice remained my favourite…when I asked what the unique flavor was from, I was introduced to this wondrous spice…sweet smelling and totally fabulous…Star anise…..when I turned vegetarian, I discovered that the veggie version of the rice didn’t lack anything and was as flavourful and tasty as the chicken version I’d always loved…..
Why am I telling you all this?? I don’t know really….i love telling a story and I have such a special fondness for this spice that it shows….I have used it in many dishes…not once any Chinese preparation although it is widely used in that cuisine…..kurmas, stews, stir fries, curries, pulaos and biryanis …..it is versatile….since it is sweet smelling and tasting I always wondered about using it in a dessert, but never really tried it out…I was tempted to put it into kheer, but didn’t…. two weeks ago i was lured to a tasting session to a gelato joint that opened near where we live….when I surveyed the offerings, star anise jumped out at me….i asked for a taste and was floored….i’d never expected it to be as fabulous as it was….the flavor of the spice melded so completely with the gelato that I think I have found my all time favourite flavor……so you see it has been on my mind a long time and yesterday I tried to give it a shot…..i don’t know the first thing about making gelato and have made icecream too only twice before….so I relied mostly on my sense of taste to guide me and let me tell you I wasn’t disappointed….. i also made a strawberry preserve to serve with it in case K didn’t like the flavor of star anise …I need’nt have fretted!! He loved it too…. …it kicked in the flavours, but plain is wonderful too …try it out….you too will fall in love…..
Don’t go by the pics, by the time I managed to take a few shots, the icecream began to melt…..since there isn’t any artificial stabilizer, I think this one will have to be served immediately after taking it out of the freezer…anyways its not going to last longer than that!! I used low fat toned milk, for a creamier texture use ½ cup full cream with the recipe….i didn’t cos I don’t need anymore extra calories!! check out sunita’s event here
Ingredients to make ½ litre icecream
½ litre milk (I used toned milk)
5-6 whole star anise
½ cup condensed milk (I used sweetened, if using unsweetened, add 4 Tof sugar or to taste)
1 T cornflour dissolved in 3 T water
Put the star anise into the milk and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes stirring till the fragrance and flavor of the star anise gets infused into the milk.
Remove the star anise from the milk and add condensed milk and mix well. Continue to simmer, stirring all the time. Add the cornflour mixed in water and stir so that no lumps are formed.
Switch off the heat. Set aside and leave to cool. When at room temperature put into a blender and blend for a couple of minutes. Pour into a plastic container and freeze. After 3-4 hours remove from freezer and beat again with a hand blender or pour into a blender jar and whisk. Pour back and leave in the freezer to set.
For the strawberry preserve
2 cups of fresh strawberries, chopped into ½ inch pieces (or smaller if you like)
2-3 T sugar (add more if you want it sweeter)
½ cup water
In a heavy bottomed saucepan, combine the fruit, sugar and water and simmer on low heat till well blended and the fruit ismushy. Skim off the top with a spoon, stir from time to time. Check for sweet – tartness. The fruit should be cooked but not disintegrate. Remove from heat and cool before serving.
To serve, place two scoops of icecream in a bowl, spoon 2-3 t of strawberry preserve onto it, garnish with fresh strawberries or mint and serve.