Moonlight Milk Chaat
30 Min

Moonlight Milk Chaat

Tucked deep within the belly of a famous street market in Delhi, is a legendary ethereal dessert that is often compared to eating a cloud. Served on carts over ice and only made during the coldest winter months, the delicate as dew Daulat ki chaat (translates as snack of abundance or bliss) is said to have traveled to India from Afghanistan where it was made using mare’s milk. During the early hours of the morning over moonlight, raw milk with cream and aromatics like cardamom and mace is churned with a mallet by hand. The foam is then carefully skimmed off the top and the process is repeated over and over. The early morning dew is supposed to make it light and frothy. Rose water, ground nuts or crumbled milk solids are slowly incorporated, and it’s topped with saffron cream. Just like every other street food in India, each street vendor his or her own iteration; some use almonds, some pistachios, some the essence of rose or vetiver and it is often finished marigold or rose petals and gold or silver leaf. One cold February morning, I finally got to enjoy it with a cup of chai, discussing its nuances with the enthusiastic vendor, whose family has been making this chaat for over 100 years. It is challenging to recreate the charm of street food in the comfort of our western homes however, I tried several iterations and landed on this simple recipe. I decided to turn a cake with whipped cream on its head and added tiny amounts of dry-soaked cake crumbs to whipped cream. Use old sponge or angel food cake and I suggest using a stand mixer for best results. Enjoy it on a moonlit evening over the holidays with your friends and family!
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Cook Time

30 Minutes



Step 1
Crumble the cake into a small bowl and pour warm milk over it along with the ground mace and cardamom. Refrigerate this for a few hours. Combine a couple of tablespoons of heavy cream with the saffron and refrigerate for a few hours also.
Step 2
In the chilled bowl of a stand mixer, using the whip attachment, slowly mix the remaining heavy cream with the powdered sugar, salt and continue mixing it until it begins to thicken. Bit by bit, start adding the cake crumbs (they should have soaked up all the milk) until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. The cake should completely dissolve into the cream. Transfer most of the cream mix into a serving bowl and fold the remaining with the saffron cream. Add it to the top of the cream mix, garnish with silver leaf, chopped pistachios, and serve.
1/2 cup (or 2 ounces) dry plain cake chunks           
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
3/4 cup warm milk
2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
Generous pinch of saffron  
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
Scant pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon rose water or essence
2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
Tiny amount of silver leaf for decoration (optional)

Notes & Variations

  • This dessert can be set in small cups or glasses and served straight from the refrigerator.
  • Along with cake crumbs, you can add 1 to 2 tablespoons of finely ground nuts, like toasted almonds or pistachios to the dessert.
30 Min

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Chaat, which simply means ‘to lick’ is a family of finger-licking roadside savory, crunchy and slightly sweet snacks that stretch from India to the Caribbean. They can range from a complex chaat with a dozen components like lentil fritters or potato cakes with yogurt and herb chutneys to the simplicity of a plate of fruit sprinkled with a few key spices.

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