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Dec 12, 2017
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Intelligent Content For The Food Fascinated
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SERVING SAINT LOUIS SINCE 1999
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Recipe: Diwali Desserts

October 12th 03:10pm, 2017

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Hindus around the world light up the night next week during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that takes place Oct. 19 this year. The holiday celebrates good triumphing over evil and light overcoming darkness with firecrackers, homes decorated with elaborate designs of colored rice flour and flower petals, and an abundance of sweets.

Some of the fancier, heavier desserts include gulab jamun (milky doughnuts balls in sugar syrup), jalebi (chickpea-flour fritters also soaked in sugar syrup) or ras malai (cottage cheese dumplings steeped in milk syrup). You can purchase them, of course, but many Indians like to make lighter desserts at home and distribute them in boxes to family and friends.

Cows are considered holy in Hinduism, and many people in ancient times owned cows or had access to their milk. There are 150 or more milk-based desserts made for Diwali, and I’m sharing two of my South Indian family’s favorites.

Historically, most Indian homes didn’t have ovens (and many still don’t), so Diwali desserts are often made on the stovetop with lots of stirring and patience. Prior to the days of condensed milk, chefs it cooked down, which took hours of constant stirring. Now, the recipes are a bit more simplified but still require 20 to 30 minutes of stovetop mixing.

This results in lightly sweetened milky desserts, like burfi (also known by sandesh or peda depending on the region) adorned with some finely chopped pistachios or almonds. This burfi recipe is just a base. Many households adapt it to suit their family tradition, adding mango puree, saffron, cardamom or cocoa powder.

Another common dessert is yogurt-based pudding called shrikhand. This is typically made by straining whole-milk plain yogurt through cheesecloth for several hours, but my mother discovered that using Greek yogurt saves all that hassle. I’ve included her recipe for a lovely, sweetened shrikhand perfumed with cardamom and saffron.

 

 

Milk Burfi
20 to 30 pieces

Customize this recipe with your favorite flavors. Add ¼ cup mango puree or 3 tablespoons cocoa powder with the dairy at the beginning of the recipe, or mix a few strands of saffron or ¼ cup shredded sweetened coconut with the cardamom.

1 15-oz. package ricotta cheese
1 14-oz. can condensed milk
½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ tsp. cardamom ground
Handful pistachio or almond slivers

• Line a baking sheet with parchement paper.
• In a medium saucepan over medium heat, use a rubber spatula to constantly stir the ricotta, milk and butter 20 to 30 minutes until it comes together. Add the caradmon and reduce the heat to low.
• Place a small piece of dough on the baking sheet. If it does not shift of spread, transfer the dough onto the baking sheet. Use your hands or a rolling pin to roll the dough to ½-inch thickness.
• Use a cookie cutter to make shapes and decorate with pistachio and almond slivers, or use your hands to make small balls of dough, then flatten a bit between your palms. Make a small indentation in the center to fill with the pistachio or almond slivers.
• Refrigerate and serve chilled or at room temperature.

 

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Shrikhand
6 to 8 servings

½ tsp. saffron
1 tsp. milk
1 32-oz. containter plain full-fat Greek yogurt
1 16-oz. container sour cream
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp. cardamom
Dried fruit or nuts like pistachios or almonds, for garnish (optional)

• Soak the saffron in the milk.
• In a large mixing bowl, beat the yogurt, sour cream and sugar on medium speed until the sugar dissolves and mixtures isn’t grainy.
• Add in the cardamom and the saffron and milk. Taste and adjust the spices and sugar as needed.
• Serve in bowls and top with dried fruit and nuts, if desired.

Photos by Amrita Song

Amrita Song is a longtime contributor to Sauce Magazine who blogs at A Song in Motion

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