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Milk (Doodh) Peda is a traditional Indian sweet made by cooking milk and ghee together until it forms a soft dough. Flavorings like saffron and cardamom powder are then added before the warm dough is rolled into balls and flattened or given attractive shapes using decorative molds before being topped with chopped nuts or dried fruit. This recipe, from  Honest Cooking, will easily give you a small batch of milk pedas with a nice chewy, almost fudge-like texture, using full cream milk powder and condensed milk. Decorated with a single pistachio, they are commonly offered as prasad to Lord Krishna on the special occasion of Janmashtami.

MILK {DOODH} PEDA

Ingredients:

1 can condensed milk

1 3/4 cup milk powder

1 tablespoon pure ghee

1 tablespoon liquid milk

Pinch of cardamom

Pinch of saffron strands

1/4 cup pistachios

Method:

  • Chop the pistachios into halves and set them aside. Warm one tablespoon milk in the microwave.
  • Add the saffron and cardamom powder to milk and give a quick stir and let it sit to infuse flavors.

  • In a heavy based cooking pan add the condensed milk and milk powder. Mix and whisk till smooth.
  • Add the milk with saffron and cardamom and mix well until there are no lumps. Switch on the heat.

  • Cook this mixture on medium low heat, stirring intermittently until the mixture starts leaving sides.
  • Now add ghee and keep mixing till it turns into a doughy ball. The mixture will thicken as it cooks.

  • Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes or until you can easily handle it. Roughly divide into 20-25 portions.
  • Apply some ghee to your hands and roll into a smooth ball. Press between palms to flatten it a bit.

  • Add a halved pistachio to the center. Allow them to cool completely, they will solidify as they cool.
  • Store in airtight container. Makes 20-25 pedas. Stays good for up to one week in the refrigerator.

Milk Pedas with Pistachios

A popular treat from North India, the besan laddoo is traditionally served as prasad, an offering made to God or to mark festive occasions like birthdays and weddings. Unlike other laddoos which involve painstaking methods of preparation, the technique of making besan laddoos comes as straight forward and relatively foolproof such that you will get it right on your very first attempt. The only catch is to get your besan/chickpea flour perfectly roasted over a low flame until it loses its raw smell and texture without letting it burn.

The rich, characteristic taste of the besan laddoo depends on this crucial step, so roll up your sleeves and make sure that you keep stirring the hot besan until it turns golden and fragrant. Usually a generous amount of clarified butter is required to get that distinctive melt-in-the-mouth texture, so do not skimp on the desi ghee if you can help. The khoya helps to bind the mixture well and make it less crumbly though it does reduce their shelf life a bit. Make this easy yet flavorsome laddoo for your brothers on Raksha Bandhan and share the love!

BESAN LADDOO

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups besan

1/4 cup semolina

1/2 cup ghee, melted

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1/3 cup khoya or mawa

1/2 teaspoon cardamom

1/4 cup almonds, chopped

1/4 cup cashew nuts

Method:

  • Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the cashew nuts and sauté on low medium flame.
  • When they turn golden brown, remove from the pan from heat and place cashew nuts in a bowl to cool.

  • Add almonds to ghee, sauté on low flame for 3 minutes. Remove from pan and place with cashew nuts.
  • In the same pan, add remaining ghee and allow to melt and turn warm, not hot. Slowly, add the besan.

  • Roast on low flame till besan turns color and gives lovely aroma after at least 30-35 minutes of cooking.
  • Turn off heat and remove roasted besan to a wide plate and allow it to cool. It can be slightly lukewarm.

  • Melt 1 tablespoon ghee and roast semolina on low flame for 7-8 minutes and add it to the roasted besan.
  • Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon of ghee to the same pan and sauté the grated khoya for some 2-3 minutes.

  • Turn off flame and remove it from pan. Grind the roasted cashew nuts and almonds to a coarse powder.
  • Add the nuts to roasted besan. Add powdered sugar and mix to combine. Finally add cardamom powder.

  • Mix gently to combine and shape this mixture into small, lemon sized even balls. Leave to set on a plate.
  • Place cashew nut on top as garnish. Laddoos have a shelf life of 2 weeks at room temperature. Makes 12.

Besan Laddoos

This particular rice flour pudding was by all means the result of keeping a box of rice flour and a tin of condensed milk side by side in my kitchen drawer for weeks with no inkling that the two could be combined in a single creamy dessert. Originally from Northern parts of India, phirni is a well loved milk dish traditionally served in small earthen pots. Its preparation is somewhat similar to kheer, which is made from whole rice, whereas phirni is prepared using ground rice or rice flour. Best served after it has been chilled for a couple of hours, the traditional recipe calls for full cream milk though I wanted to go along with the condensed milk to make it thick and smooth.

Rose water and saffron are usually added to enhance flavours but please do not omit the freshly ground cardamom to maintain its authenticity. In contrast to the classic semolina pudding we always prepare for puja ceremonies, this light rice flour pudding was my offering to Lord Shiva for Maha Shivratree. Celebrated with unwavering devotion in honor of one of the main deities of Hinduism, the great night of Shiva is preceded by the pilgrimage to Ganga Talao. Every year, thousands of Mauritians undertake the journey on foot, some carrying heavily decorated kanwars and chanting the powerful Om Namah Shivaya mantra as they make their slow progress towards the sacred lake.

PHIRNI

Ingredients:

500 g fine rice flour, sifted

392g condensed milk

2 1/2 cups full cream milk

2 cups lukewarm water

1/4 cup unrefined sugar

2 teaspoons cardamom powder

1 1/2 teaspoon rose water/ gulab jal

Small pinch of saffron strands

3 tablespoon almonds, chopped

3 tablespoon pistachios, chopped

Method:

  • Sift the rice flour into a large mixing bowl to remove any large lumps. Add the condensed milk and stir.

  • Slowly add milk and water till a batter of dosa-like consistency forms and place in a heavy bottomed pan.

  • Cook on low heat, stirring continuously for 10 to 12 minutes. The texture should be coarse and little thick.

  • Add the unrefined sugar to the mixture and mix well. Continue to cook on low flame the sugar dissolves.

  • Before removing the pan from the heat, add the cardamom powder and rose water and give it a good stir.

  • Leave to cool to room temperature then chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours before serving time.

  • Serve phirni in small bowls and garnish with chopped almonds, pistachios and saffron strands. Serves 6.

Phirni – Rice Flour Pudding

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