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The soft, sweet lentil paste, crisp filo, fresh cream and desiccated coconut make this a wonderful and elegant dessert.
Boil the drained lentils in plenty of water until very soft, around 20-40 minutes. When a scum forms on the surface, skim it off. When cooked, drain the pan and purée the lentils using a hand blender, adding enough water to make a fine paste. Place back in the pan with 4 ½ tablespoons of the sugar, the nutmeg and cardamom. Cook for about 6–8 minutes or until the mixture comes together as a soft lump (it hardens as it cools).
Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
Make the filo crisps. Remove 3 sheets of pastry from the packet at a time and cover the rest with clingfilm as you work (this will prevent it drying out). Brush each sheet with a liberal amount of melted butter, sprinkle with a little of the remaining sugar and cover with another sheet of pastry. Brush again with butter and sprinkle with sugar and place the remaining sheet on top. Brush with butter. Using a 7.5cm pastry cutter, cut out 6 circles. Repeat twice, using 9 sheets of pastry in total (this takes less time than it first appears).
Place the 18 circles on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. If you want the crisps to have a flat finish, top with another sheet of the paper and another baking sheet. I like the top crisps to have more character and colour, so I leave at least 6 unpressed. Bake for 5–6 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Whip the cream in a bowl to form soft peaks. Place the lentil paste in a piping bag (or in a sandwich bag and snip off the end). Pipe the paste in a circle on top of 12 pastry crisps – the paste should completely cover the base and be about 7.5cm thick. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of desiccated coconut each. Spread or pipe a heaped teaspoon of the whipped cream on top of the coconut.
Make up your stacks by placing one bountiful disc on top of the other, cream side up and top with a plain pastry crisp. You can serve them immediately or place in the fridge until ready to serve. Bring back to room temperature, dust liberally with icing sugar and serve.
Anjum's New Indian by Anjum Anand, published by Quadrille.
Photos © Vanessa Courtier
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