Indian sweet treats, whether for one of the many festivals or holy days or just for home consumption, all seem to be made with milk. Well, maybe not all, but most. Making matters worse, they are generally made using Khoya or Mawa, a milk product created by slowly cooking, stirring, simmering, stirring, stirring and stirring, for hours, until the end result is a thickened mass. This is the basis for so many of the sweets, like Gulab Jamun, Rasgullah, Peda and many others.
When I first made Gajar Burfi, a carrot fudge, some years back, it was one of these recipes calling for the long milk cooking process. My sister, who once made an Indian meal for some friends, noted that she was going to make a recipe for Carrot 'Halwa', from one of her cookbooks. It was that long, slow, stirring process. She wrote later that it was a huge hit with her guests. However, after 4 1/2 hours of stirring to accomplish this result, she flatly stated, "NEVER AGAIN!"
Having read that halwa and burfi are similar, but that halwa is generally made without milk while burfi is made with milk, obviously that is a generality that doesn't always apply. When I came across a recipe for Gajar Burfi that I tweaked to come out similarly by using whole milk powder to thicken the mixture instead of stirring for hours, I was very pleased. I sent the recipe to my sister. I have no idea if she ever tried it out. She may still be too traumatized. =:o
Gajar Burfi or Carrot Fudge
Now, as I am preparing for an Indian dinner for another two of my sisters, I chose to make a sweets assortment as dessert rather than go to deep-frying (which I abhor, no matter how good the outcome) to make Gulab Jamun or making paneer so I could make Rasgullah (a major difficulty nowadays since pretty much all milk in the grocery is "ultra-pasteurized," and does not like to form curds for the paneer). So I looked through an Indian cookbook I created for myself, made up of mostly recipes I have created, generally by looking through 2 to 20 recipes and coming up with something that sounds good to me. I have quite a repertoire by now, as I have been making Indian food for nearly 30 years at this point. But there are things I still want to try out, so I added into this cookbook some recipes that were either straight from someone's website (to tweak later on when I tried it out), or again a compilation of what "I would do," having previously looked at many iterations for the recipe. Some of these sweets are among those. Things I had yet to try.
Rava Laddoo, Sweet Semolina Laddoo
Why did I wait so long?
Who knows. Sometimes, it just seems like it's going to be a huge bother, or a huge mess, and I procrastinate. That is something I am really, terribly good at.
In selecting the sweets to make for a treat at end of this dinner, I selected three things in my cookbook, along with the Gajar (Carrot) Burfi, made before. I love the Carrot Fudge, and as my husband, who is not at all fond of carrots, loves it as well, just proves that once you add enough sugar, he will eat most things. :-)
I wrote a couple of days ago about the Badam Katli, or Thin Almond Fudge. That recipe is one that does not use the milk as it's basis. As it turns out, the second sweet I tried out is Rava Laddoo, or Sweet Semolina Laddoo, also does not use milk as it's basis. So much for generalities! This was a welcome discovery as my whole milk powder is running low and no grocery anywhere I have shopped carries whole milk powder. Nonfat milk powder is found anywhere. But nonfat is not the best way to go for these sweets.
The Sweet Semolina Laddoo recipe is one I chose from a website called "Chef in You." I used it mostly just as stated in the recipe on that blog, so I urge you to go there and check out all the step by step photos, if those are needed. I happened to have semolina in my pantry, as I use it occasionally when making pasta. I measured some ingredients by gram or ounce. Some, like "10 cashews," were self explanatory.
Rava Laddoo or Sweet Semolina Laddoo
Made about 25Heat 2 teaspoons (of the total 4 1/2 teaspoons) of ghee in a wide skillet. Toast the raw cashews until they start to turn golden, stirring constantly. Turn these out onto paper toweling and then add in the raisins to the skillet, tossing and cooking until they puff up. Turn out to another sheet of paper toweling.
Toast the grated dry coconut, not till browned, but just until it smells of coconut. Turn out to a small bowl.
Add the remaining ghee to the skillet and over low heat add in the semolina, stirring and mixing until the smell is very apparent. It does not need to brown, but to absorb the ghee and slightly cook.
Turn the semolina out into a mixing bowl and add in the toasted nuts, coconut, raisins, pinch of salt and the cardamom powder. Stir, then add in the sugar and mix well. Add the 1 1/2 tablespoons of milk and stir in. Check if at this point it is possible to squeeze a small amount into a ball. If you have ever made Rum Balls or Bourbon Balls at Christmas, it is similar. If the mixture will not hold its shape, add in more milk as needed, by one or two teaspoons at a time, mixing very well each time to distribute the liquid, before testing if it will hold a ball shape. I live in a very dry climate and needed to add over 2 tablespoons more milk to make the mixture hold together.
Once the mixture can hold shape, pour all of the mixture back onto the skillet and keep over low heat, covered, and let rest for 2 minutes. This gives the mixture time to absorb and will form and taste better.
Pour back into the mixing bowl and scoop out 2 to 3 teaspoonful sized portions and form into balls. It is good to have little mini muffin papers to contain them but is not completely needed. Best if kept in the fridge and will last about 5 days.
Doodh Peda or Milk Fudge Balls
The other sweet I tried out was one called Peda. Or Doodh (milk) Peda (something spherical shaped). I am not totally positive where I found this recipe, but it is very similar to one from Hebbar's Kitchen, so please check out her recipe, again with step by step pictures if those are needed. These are little milk fudge balls, and are simple to make, if you choose to use the quick method of using condensed milk and milk powder. Sweetened condensed milk eliminates the need to add any other sugar and the milk powder thickens the mixture, giving it a great head-start. Oh, and they are so delicious!
Doodh Peda or Milk Fudge Balls
Makes about 25
|Doodh Peda or Milk Fudge Balls|
1 tablespoon ghee
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups whole milk powder
2 tablespoons milk, warmed
8 or 9 saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon green cardamom seeds, ground
1 teaspoon ghee, plus more for hands while rolling
pistachios to decorate, whole or chopped
In a small bowl, set the saffron threads into the warm milk to steep. Set aside.
In a large, heavy pot, add in the first teaspoon ghee, spread around in the pan, then pour in the sweetened condensed milk and the dry milk powder. Stir this mixture thoroughly, breaking up lumps, until the mixture is smooth. Add in the saffron milk and stir. Set over medium to medium low heat and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture becomes thick and begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Add in the cardamom powder and the second teaspoon of ghee and stir well. Remove from heat and pour onto a greased plate to cool slightly. Once it can be handled, grease hands with ghee and take small portions of the mixture and toll into balls. Technically, it is common to use a Peda Stamp to press a starburst into the top of the ball, and then pistachios, or pistachio slivers pressed in to adorn. I used the tip of a lemon reamer to make a starburst.
Keep in a well sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a few days.
My passion is teaching people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and passing along my love and joy of food, both simple or exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me also at A Harmony of Flavors on Facebook, and Pinterest and sign up for my Newsletter.