A classic milky cardamom scented Pakistani dessert, this no muss no fuss version of Shahi Tukray was one of my grandmother's trademark recipes. It comes together quickly, but tastes like a labour of love.
A Personal Note
It has taken me forever to write this recipe. I've had it for years now, but you see, before I came to love kheer or even Chanay ki Daal ka Halwa I loved Shahi Tukray. I loved them only the way my Nani (grandmother) made them - light, delicate, satisfying. My teenage self would gleefully consume copious amount much to my Nani's amusement. She passed away in 2019 after being unwell for a long time and I couldn't bring myself to write this recipe here. Then, as I had it at one aunts house, and then another's, I slowly began to find joy in it again, and wanted to share that joy with you too.
What are Shahi Tukray?
Shahi Tukray (shahi=royal, tukray=pieces) or Shahi Tukda is a rather fancy name for a dessert that is fried bread soaked in flavored milk. There are many versions of it. Popular iterations include
- Where the bread is fried, dunked in sugar syrup, and then has a thicker milk (rabri) poured over it - what is often called double ka meetha
- Fried bread which has a thicker milk (rabri) poured over it, often with extra khoya (milk solids)
- Handi ke Shahi Tukray (this version) - where your bread is fried and simmered in a slightly thinner milk base than the above and left to soak it in.
How do these Handi ke Shahi Tukray taste
The milk base for these is sweet with notes of cardamom and saffron. Once the bread is added to it, the bread becomes fluffier, more delicate, and airy, absorbing all that flavor. A little hint of salt balances that sweetness and creates a dessert that is truly special.
Ingredients in Shahi Tukray
One of my favorite things about Shahi Tukray is how pantry friendly it is. All it takes is a handful of accessible ingredients to whip them up.
- Milk (whole milk please!)
- Condensed milk (sweetened) - for richness
- Cardamom pods - for that quintessential Pakistani dessert flavour
- Saffron - for extra flavour and oomph
- Salt - for balance
- White Bread - Stale is great, brioche is lovely here too!
- Nuts and saffron for garnishing
How to Make Shahi Tukda
Okay folks let's do it. Since this recipe is so straightforward to make I am going to share a few bonus tips okay? Also, I cut triangles, but smaller rectangles or squares are easier to manage!
Tip One: It is easier to slice stale and/or cold bread
Tip Two: You want your slices to be the same size, but stacking 6 pieces of bread can be unwieldy. Stack 3, cut into squares and use one of your squares as as a template to cut the remainder.
Tip Three: Use a bread knife and don't rush it!
Now fry your bread until beautifully golden brown on both sides. You can use ghee or oil (I use oil), but note it will absorb a fair bit of oil.
Now add your Shahi Tukray milk mixture ingredients except the condensed milk to a wide bottomed pot. Bring the milk mix to a boil, simmer for 5-7 minutes to thicken, and then add in your condensed milk. Stir well and keep at a gentle simmer.
Now add your fried bread pieces carefully to your pot (they will expand as they soak up the liquid). The slices will get extremely tender (and tasty) as they do so so do be careful when transferring them to a dish!
Tip: for better plating you can also just give them a quick dunk, move to your platter, and then pour the milk mix over top.
For reference the slice in the front did a quick dunk, the ones in the back a proper soak. Let it come to room temperature and then refrigerate your dish. Garnish with nuts and/or saffron before serving.
On Saffron and the "correct" way to use it
Friends, I know the correct way to use saffron, to extract it's maximum flavour, is to grind it, and then let it bloom in hot water or milk. I did that last time I shot this dish and it looked so unlike what I grew up with that I never used those photos. Feel free to do it the correct way and please forgive this nostalgia driven blogger for her sentimentality.
Other Easy Pakistani Dessert Recipes
Tried this recipe? Share what you think below of my childhood favourite!
Shahi Tukray Recipe
- 6 slices white or brioche bread
- 4 cups whole milk
- 1 tsp ground cardamom (freshly ground is optimal)
- 1 tsp saffron, coarsely crushed by hand
- ¼ tsp salt
- 300 ml can condensed milk
- slivered almonds or pistachios
- additional saffron
- Remove the edges of your bread and slice into uniform pieces - I halved into triangles. You can use one piece of bread as a template for the others for even slices.
- Combine all the milk mix ingredients except the condensed milk in a wide bottomed pot and for 5-7 minutes until slightly thickened. (Note: this is for handi style, for a thicker base you can reduce the milk for another 5 minutes)
- Stir in your condensed milk. You may want to use a little less if you are thickening the milk more.
- Fry your breads pieces in oil (my preference) or ghee in batches until golden brown.
- Add your bread slices into the milky base and let it simmer for a few minutes to help the bread absorb the flavour.
- For easier plating don't leave your bread in too long because it becomes hard to transfer. If you are making it in advance then you can also place the fried bread in your dish and gently pour over the milk. The bread will absorb the milk mix as it cools.
- Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with nuts and saffron.