Kesar Pista, or saffron and pistachio, makes a great dessert

In Japan, you can buy kit kat who tastes green tea . In Canada, Lay’s potato chips can be ketchup fragrant. And now a kesar pista T...


In Japan, you can buy kit kat who tastes green tea. In Canada, Lay’s potato chips can be ketchup fragrant. And now a kesar pista The Snickers bar has arrived in India.

Kesar pista, or saffron and pistachio, is a familiar combination to South Asians. It figures largely in several traditional desserts such as kesar rajbhog – balls of milk with saffron and stuffed with walnuts – or kesari burfi, fudgelike saffron confections often sprinkled with pistachios.

And during holiSpring Festival — March 18 this year — many celebrants will sip Thandaia sweet chilled milk colored golden yellow with saffron and often garnished with pistachios.

Kesar pista is popular for a reason. Ingredients blend brilliantly, tasting even more luxurious, floral and complex together.

“Whether you look south, whether you look west, whether you look north, you’ll find this unique combination of spices and nuts,” said Varun Kandhari, director of marketing for March Wrigley India, which introduced the new candy bar in December. “It’s a very delicate flavor.”

Neither saffron nor pistachios are native to India – saffron likely came from the Middle East and pistachios from Central Asia and the Middle East, said Sonal Ved, a Mumbai-based food writer and author of “Who owns Samosa anyway? The history of the origin of “Indian” food.”

The saffron and pistachio “are contrasting, but they’re also complementary,” Ms Ved said. “One has color and aroma. The other has body, or creaminess and texture.

The use of pairing in dessert was well documented during the Mughal Empire, when kesar pista kulfi was served to the royal family, according to “A historical dictionary of Indian cuisineby food historian KT Achaya. The flavor also appears elsewhere in Asia, in Persian dishes like sohan, a brittle saffron topped with pistachios, and bastanian ice cream typically flavored with saffron, pistachio, vanilla and rose water.

Mr Kandhari said if the kesar pista seabass sells well in India, Mars Wrigley would consider taking it to other countries. (He declined to share the bar’s current sales numbers.)

The flavor lends itself well to traditional desserts, he said, and “also works well when you look at some of the contemporary desserts.”

Owners of dessert shops in the United States know this to be true. Here you will find saffron and pistachio cupcakes, brittle, ice cream and donuts. This is how kesar pista could become even more common, Mr Kandhari said. “What made matcha very popular in all markets was that it was used in different formats.”

Mita Shah, owner of Homemade Mardi Gras Ice Cream in Columbus, Ohio, has had a kesar pista offering on the menu since 2000. They called it “the king of ice cream.”

“Pistachio has its own flavor and saffron enhances that flavor,” she said.

In recent years, kesar pista ice cream has become the #1 seller among Indian and non-Indian customers. It’s nostalgic for those who grew up enjoying Indian sweets, she said, and intriguing for those who didn’t.

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