Be sweet!

Since no festival or celebration is complete without 'kuch meetha', we thought we'd share our favourite recipes, including one for the calorie-conscious, from chef Sanjeev Kapoor's latest offering, Mithai

Parwal ki Mithai

250 gm pointed gourd (parwal), peeled, slit and seeded
1 cup (180 gm) khoya/ mawa
1 1/4 cups (310 gm) sugar
1/4 teaspoon green cardamom powder (elaichi)
10 almonds, chopped
10 pistachios, chopped
2 tablespoons milk powder
2 teaspoons milka pinch of soda bicarbonate a few saffron threads edible silver foil*, to decorate

1. To make the filling, roast the khoya in a non-stick pan on medium heat till soft. Add one-fourth cup sugar and continue to cook.
2. Add the cardamom powder to the khoya mixture and mix. Take the pan off the heat; add the almonds and pistachios and mix. Add the milk powder and mix well. Transfer the mixture onto a plate and leave to cool.
3. In a separate non-stick pan, bring the remaining sugar and one cup of water to a boil, stirring till the sugar dissolves. Add the milk, collect the scum, which rises to the surface with a ladle, and discard. Simmer for a few minutes longer to make a thin sugar syrup.
4. Heat plenty of water in a deep non-stick pan; add a pinch of soda bicarbonate and the parwal and boil for two to three minutes.
5. Drain and place the parwal in the sugar syrup. Cook for fifteen minutes, or till they soften. Drain and set aside to cool.
6. Stuff the parwal with the khoya mixture, Sprinkle a few saffron threads over each parwal and decorate with silver foil. Serve cold.

Makes: 400 gm
*Varq, or edible silver foil, is very delicate and should be handled carefully. It is sold in sheets with a paper backing. To decorate with varq, carefully turn it over foil side down onto the mithai while it is still slightly warm press gently and peel away the paper layer, leaving the varq on the mithai.

Khajur aur Akhrot Ka Roll (sugar-free mithai)

100 gm dates
50 gm walnuts
25 gm almonds
25 gm pistachios
25 gm figs (anjeer)
1 tablespoon ghee
1 tablespoon (10 gm) edible gum resin (gond)*
1 sheet aluminium foil
2 tablespoons poppy seeds

1. Dry roast the walnuts, almonds and pistachios. Coarsely chop the dates, walnuts, almonds, pistachios and figs.
2. Heat the ghee in a non-stick pan and add the gum resin. Shallow fry the resin till the grains are swollen. Drain and crush or chop finely.
3. Heat the ghee remaining in the pan, add the chopped nuts and gum, and saute till fragrant. Set aside to cool.
4. Knead the mixture, make into a dough and spread it on a piece of aluminum foil. Tightly roll the date mixture with the help of the foil and place in a refrigerator for about an hour.
5. Remove the foil and cut the nut roll into one-inch pieces. Roll in poppy seeds and serve.

Makes: 175 gm
*Gum resin (gond or gaund) is a tree resin that is edible. It is usually sold as small yellowish crystals. The crystals should be fried till swollen and then added to the mithai.

Kaju, Khoya aur Besan Ke Laddoo

1/2 cup (125 gm) cashewnuts, coarsely powdered
2 cups (360 gm) khoya/ mawa
1/2 cup (50 gm) gram flour
1/4 cup (55 gm) ghee
1/2 teaspoon green cardamom (elaichi) powder
1 cup (125 gm) powdered sugar

1. Melt the ghee in a non-stick kadai and add the gram flour. Cook on low heat, stirring, for about fifteen to twenty minutes till the gram flour is light brown and fragrant. Add the cardamom powder, stir and take the pan off the heat. Let the mixture cool for a while.
2. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and mix well with your hands. Cool again and divide into twelve equal portions. Shape each portion into a laddoo.
3. Saute the khoya in another non-stick kadai for four to five minutes. Add the remaining powdered sugar and cashewnut powder. Divide into twelve equal portions.
4. Take each portion of the khoya mixture and spread it thickly on your palm. Place a gram flour laddoo in the centre, gather the edges of the khoya together and roll, making sure that the gram flour laddoo is completely covered with the khoya mixture.
5. Set aside to cool and store in an airtight container.

Recipes extracted with permission from Mithai; Sanjeev Kapoor; Popular Prakashan; Rs 295. Available at leading bookstores.

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