Two 3-inch pieces gold or silver leaf (varak), optional (see note)
This version of a popular Indian restaurant dessert sports a California touch - grated orange peel. You may add cardamom, saffron or rose essence if you prefer a classic Indian flavor.
Combine water and 1/4 cups sugar in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer for 12 minutes.
Combine the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, the half-and-half and orange zest in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until sauce is reduced by one third, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
Meanwhile, mix together flour and paneer; knead until fluffy and thoroughly mixed, Form mixture into walnut-size balls and flatten into 1/4-inch thick patties.
Working in batches, poach patties in simmering sugar syrup until they are firm, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn gently and cook 1 minute longer.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer patties to a serving bowl. Pour in the cream sauce and remaining sugar syrup. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours, or until well chilled, (May be made up to 4 days ahead.)
Just before serving, sprinkle with chopped pistachios and, decorate with gold leaf, if desired.
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Per Serving: 800 calories, 22 g protein, 83 g carbohydrate, 44 g fat (27 g saturated), cholesterol (not available), 177 mg sodium, 0 g fiber.
From an article by Laxmi Hiremath in the San Francisco Chronicle, 9/1/93.