Lab-e-Shireen, a classic Pakistani dessert that is loved by all.
For those who may not be familiar with this deliciousness, Lab-e-Shireen is essentially a combination of fruits, nuts, and jello/y, all tossed together in a loose custard. It is a dish that is greater than the sum of its parts, and here’s a little breakdown of those components-
Custard- The custard is what brings this dish together. Lab-e-Shireen is meant to be sipped from a spoon, so the texture of the custard is supposed to be loose as opposed to firm or set. Also, traditionally the custard is vanilla flavored because it supports the other components (fruit, nuts, etc.), but I’ve seen folks use other flavors as well. Fruity flavors can be used, but I would stay away from something strong like chocolate.
Fruit- the world is your oyster, or apple 😉, when it comes to the fruits used in Lab-e-Shireen! Any firm fleshed fruits would work well here (apples, bananas, peaches, strawberries, grapes, etc.), and stay away from fruits that release lots of moisture (any melon). Canned fruit cocktail is extremely popular (just strain and discard its liquid before adding it to the custard), and my personal favorite is a simple combination of apples and bananas.
Nuts- again, totally up to you. Just be sure that they’re roughly chopped and are unsalted.
Vermicelli and Jelly/Jello- we’re using Pakistani style vermicelli. The short colorful ones are fantastic here. I’ve seen people use falooda sev/noodles here as an alternative as well. As for the jello/jelly, any flavor is fine. I love using contrasting colors, as it adds visual interest to the final dish.
So now that I’ve broken down the various components, let’s get cooking!
Pakistani Fruit and Custard Dessert / Lab-e-Shireen
- ¾ cup Pakistani style short colorful vermicelli
- 2 packets Jelly crystals (Jello)
- 6½ cups whole milk, divided
- ¼ cup custard powder (preferably vanilla flavored)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup chopped unsalted nuts
- ½ – 1 cup heavy whipping cream, optional
- 2 cups diced fruit of choice
Prepare vermicelli by bringing a saucepan filled with a few inches of water to a rapid boil over medium high heat. Add vermicelli and boil until cooked through and softened, about 5 to 10 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
Prepare jelly crystals according to package instructions. Allow it to set. Once it is completely cooled, cut into small pieces.
Whisk together ½-cup milk and custard powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
Combine remaining 6-cups milk and sugar and bring to a boil over medium high heat. While stirring, slowly drizzle in custard powder and milk mixture. Cook until the custard begins to thicken, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in prepared vermicelli and nuts and remove from heat. Cool completely.
Once the custard has come to room temperature, stir and check its consistency. The custard should have a loose consistency to where it can be sipped with a spoon (but also thick enough to where it can coat a spoon). If the custard is too thick, gently whisk in ½ to 1-cup of heavy whipping cream to reach desired consistency.
Gently fold in fruits and prepared jelly crystals. Refrigerate until ready to serve.