Winters in Lahore are represented by a warm, salty and nutty concoction usually in disposable white cups known as Kashmiri chai or pink chai, because of its color. This year, one restaurant in Lahore is doing more with Kashmiri chai than just brewing it. SCAFE Bistro recently introduced a localized cheesecake that incorporates the local zeal for Kashmiri chai, offering its patrons a Kashmiri chai cheesecake.
There has been a rise over the recent years in creating desi fusion, with the surging popularity of the Nutella samosa and cheese naan to name a few; a visit to any of the local food festivals will show you how restaurant owners are constantly looking to innovate and challenge traditional cuisines. And desserts are always a great place to start because us Pakistanis sure do have a sweet tooth.
So it only makes sense that chai latte cheesecakes, gulab jamun cheesecakes have done well in Lahore. The formula isn’t revolutionary; take a local delicacy that’s been a part of local cuisine for decades and combine it with some (usually) western delicacy that people have taken a strong liking to. That doesn’t mean that the process of making the dish itself is that simplistic or lacking in innovation.
Fine dining restaurant and bistro, SCAFE, has in the past contributed to bringing forward and mainstreaming some never-been-seen-before items, such as their Jiggly Japanese Cheesecake. The cake, originally from Japan, made by Uncle Tetsu’s and popularized by BuzzFeed became an internet sensation a couple of years ago. While we looked at our screens and drooled, no one made those cakes locally until SCAFE stepped in.
The Kashmiri Chai Cheesecake, while not an internet sensation (yet), is a product of the same restaurant, most likely their attempt to draw in more customers before they disappear into obscurity.
This simple, yet visually pleasing cheesecake is the brainchild pastry chef and instructor at SCAFE’s partner culinary school, SCAFA. Micaela, who is from Chile, has been a pastry chef for 11 years now and has been dedicated herself to working with local ingredients and flavors wherever she goes. While on her visit to Lahore close to the winter season, she created the Kashmiri Chai Cheesecake, while fusing it but also not letting the true essence of Kashmiri chai getting lost somewhere in between cream cheese and cream.
Micaela took inspiration after trying out freshly brewed Kashmiri chai right at the restaurant one day. She felt she could experiment with this chai and turn it into solid form. The cheesecake itself is a no-bake cheesecake with a crumb base consisting of graham crackers and melted butter combined. Moving up, the cheesecake is soft and moderately high on the gelatin.
That doesn’t ruin anything, for the taste of Kashmiri chai comes through but isn’t terribly overpowering. Mildly sweet, the execution perfectly encapsulates the idea and process. A generous slice going out for Rs. 250/ per slice without tax is pretty darn decent for cheesecake slices nowadays which tend to be priced exorbitantly high for being sub par at best. Whether you like it or not, you’d have to taste it for yourself to reach a conclusion. (Courtesy: Hungerist.com)