Earlier this week was Avani Avittam, the only festival dedicated to men in Hinduism (or rather tambramism) and since it was BB’s first one, we had to go down to the temple for a special prayer and then the next day was the recitation of the Gayatri Mantra. This sacred mantra is said to be the root mantra and it is said that reciting it 1008 times is said to be very beneficial.
On Avani Avittam, I made my Vermicelli payasam and the day of Gayatri Mantra, I made this easy Aval payasam or Poha Kheer. It’s a simple dish that can be made in less than 30 minutes, start to finish so even an FTWM can make this on a festival.
Aval Payasam/Poha Kheer
- 1 cup poha
- 1 cup sugar
- 1-litre full cream milk
- a handful of cashew nuts
- a pinch of saffron
- 1/2 tsp cardamom powder
- 2 tbsps ghee
- In a pan heat the ghee and fry the cashew nuts and once brown, keep aside.
- In the same pan, fry the poha till they slightly turn brown and at this point, add half the milk. Let the poha absorb the milk and then add the remainder of the milk.
- When the milk comes to a rolling boil, let it boil for another 5 minutes until the poha is soft and has completely absorbed the milk
- Add the sugar, cashew nuts, saffron and cardamom powder and let the kheer boil for another five minutes.
- The kheer is ready to serve. Drink hot or cold, though we prefer to drink it cold!
Around six months back, I brought a tub of Gulkand which is a kind of rose jam. To be honest, I was intrigued by its smell and texture and so decided to buy it. It was lying in my fridge all this time and I was wondering if I could do something with it for Diwali when I chanced upon this recipe from Archana’s Kitchen.
I made this recipe almost as it is mentioned on the page and it turned out more like a fudge rather than a barfi.It does not have any added sugars to it, with all the sugars coming from the dry fruit and the gulkand.
Gulkand Dry Fruit Barfi
- 2 cups dry figs (anjeer), chopped
- 2 cups dates, chopped
- 1/2 cup almonds
- 1/2 cups cashew nuts
- 1/2 cups walnuts
- 1/4 cup pistachios
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 2-3 tbsps gulkand
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg powder
- 1 tbsp ghee
- Soak the chopped figs, dates and raisins separately in bowls of water and let them soak for around 30 minutes.
- Strain the water from the dates, figs and raisins and grind them to a smooth paste. I added some water as my mixer was not a very strong one, but if you can do this without adding water, that is better.
- In a food chopper, chop the cashew nuts, almonds, walnuts and pistachios into small pieces and keep aside.
- Grease a tray with some ghee or butter and keep aside.
- In a non-stick pan, heat the ghee and when the ghee gets warm, add the fig, dates and raisins paste and mix well and saute it for a while.
- Now add the chopped nuts, gulkand and nutmeg powder and combine well.
- Stir well for a couple of minutes until the mixture starts to leave the sides of the pan.
- Once this happens, pour the mixture into the greased tray and level it well.
- Cover the tray and when the mixture is cool, keep it in the fridge for around 30-45 minutes to firm up.
- Cut it into smaller pieces and serve.
During Navratri and especially on the last two days, I had to make sweets back to back. On the first day, I made my Vermicelli Payasam and was wondering what to do for the next day when I decided to make this carrot almond kheer. It’s a fairly easy recipe to make too.
Carrot Almond Kheer
- 1 cup almonds
- 3 carrots
- 1-litre full cream milk plus some extra
- 1 cup sugar
- A few pinches saffron
- 1 tsp ghee
- In a small bowl, soak the almonds for around 15-20 minutes and when cool, remove the skin and keep aside. Reserve around 10-15 to garnish.
- Peel and cut the carrots into small pieces and cook them in a pan with the extra milk till they are completely cooked.
- In a small cup put the saffron strands and add a tsp of milk and warm it in a microwave for around 30 seconds. You may need to do this a couple of times till the saffron starts to disintegrate. Keep this aside and stir well to make sure the saffron mixes well with the milk.
- When the carrots are cooled, blend them well along with the almonds into a smooth paste.
- In a pan, take the carrot almond mixture and add 1 litre of milk to it and bring it to a boil. When the milk comes to a rolling boil, add the sugar and saffron mixture and let it boil well.
- Slice the remaining almonds finely into flakes
- In a smaller pan, heat the ghee and when warm, fry the almond flakes till they are golden brown.
- Use the browned almonds to garnish the kheer.
- The kheer can be eaten hot or cold. We prefer to eat it cold as I believe this brings out the full flavour and so we usually keep it in the fridge for a couple of hours before eating it.
This sweet is the favourite of everyone at home, especially the children and is my go-to recipe when I need to whip up a sweet for any festival. GG & BB love it so much that I have to hide some for S, otherwise, he won’t get any when he comes home from work! This is a very easy recipe but takes a little bit of time stirring if you want to get the rich taste.
- 1 cup vermicelli
- 1 cup sugar
- 1-litre milk (full cream is the best for taste)
- 10-12 pieces cashew nuts (chopped into half)
- 2 tbsp raisins
- ½ tsp cardamom powder
- 2 tbsp ghee
- In a deep bottom pan, heat the ghee and when it warms, fry the raisins till they plump up and keep aside in a kitchen towel.
- In the same pan, fry the cashew nuts until they turn brown and crisp and remove into the same kitchen towel.
- With the remaining ghee, fry the vermicelli till it becomes brown and starts to develop an aroma.
- At this point, pour 1/3 to half a litre of milk and let it come to a rolling boil. Reduce the flame and let the milk and vermicelli boil until the vermicelli is completely cooked. This will take between 15-20 minutes. If at any point, the milk reduces, add some more milk to cover the vermicelli.
- When the vermicelli is completely cooked, add the remaining milk and let it come to a nice rolling boil.
- Now add the sugar and let it boil for a while until the sweet has thickened.
- Add the sugar, cardamom, saffron and the nuts and let it boil for another 5 minutes.
- Remove from the flame and let it cool before serving.
- This sweet is very tasty both hot or cold, but we prefer to drink it cold. A few hours in the fridge really improves the taste dramatically.
- If you want to increase the proportions, just remember to put the sugar and vermicelli in a ratio of 1:1.
- I prefer to use a pestle and mortar to grind my cardamom on an ‘as I need it‘ basis. I feel that grinding a whole bunch of cinnamon at the same time makes the smell of the spice go away after a while. You will need the pods from 5-6 cardamoms to make up ¼ tsp of the powder.
Last week was the festival of Pongal, and as is the tradition I made some sweet Pongal in the morning. The only twist to the recipe was that instead of normal white rice, I used the healthier brown rice. It was quite good, though you need to cook it a tad longer than usual.
- 1 cup brown rice
- 3 tbsps yellow moong dal
- ½ cup jaggery (increase this measure to ¾ cup if you like it sweeter)
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups water
- A handful of cashewnuts
- A handful of raisins
- 3-4 tbsps Ghee.
- Wash the rice, drain and keep aside.
- In a largish pressure cooker, dry roast the moong dal for a while till it emits a nice aroma. Do not let it burn.
- Then add the washed rice, 2 cups of water and 1 cup of milk and pressure cook for 4-6 whistles. Let the pressure come down. You can cook it in a large pot also if you do not have a pressure cooker. In that case, keep an eye on it and add water and milk periodically. You need to cook it till the dal and rice break down and cook, becoming mushy.
- While the pressure is coming down, in a small skillet, put 1 tbsp ghee and fry the cashewnuts and raisins till the cashewnuts brown and the raisins plump up. Remove and keep aside.
- Put the jaggery in another container and pour a bit of water over it to cover. It will dissolve in a few seconds. You could also do this in a microwave for 1 minute. Then once the jaggery has dissolved, strain it to remove any impurities present and keep aside.
- Once you can open the lid of the cooker, add the jaggery, cashewnuts and raisins and cook over a medium flame for 5-10 mins.
- When the mixture becomes thick, it’s time to remove it from the flame and enjoy!