Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kesar Doodh Peda

Doodh Peda is the most popular and basic milk based Indian Sweet. In Maisuru it is categorised under 'Bombay Sweets' as against Bengali Sweets, which are mostly made with cottage cheese or paneer. Doodh peda also known as Milk Fudge, and is a delicious sweet meat distributed by people to celebrate festive occasions. Milk Khova/khoya/mawa is mixed with calculated amount of sugar and flavouring ingredients to make these. In Hindi Doodh is milk, and Peda means small ball. 

I first tasted doodh peda in the Sixties, when Taj Mahal and Komal's in Mangalore made them with pure milk khova, adding Kesar or saffron. The aroma of the pedas and the taste lingered on for a long time after we relished them those days. The softness and the grainy texture of khova still comes to my mind as I reminisce over them! Dharwad Peda or Mathura Peda is slightly different, dark brown in colour and is rolled in castor sugar. Kesar Doodh Peda is my most favourite, and I have also tasted very good Kesar Peda at Bombay Tiffanys in Maisuru, Kanthi Sweets, Chandra Sweets and Arya Bhavan in Bengaluru and Agarwal Bhawan in Chennai. 

At present, in Mangaluru we have Shreya's Sweets which makes good Kesar Peda, but it is not made with pure khova. I was surprised to know that some sweet makers add milk powder to make doodh peda! I was working for a Bank in Chickpet Bengaluru in the Eighties, where Bombay Anand Bhawan was a customer. I saw their stock statement which mentioned milk powder, and I asked the messenger from Bombay Anand Bhawan, why milk powder is used. He told me that it is added to make doodh peda. Then I realised why some of the whitish looking pedas taste different. Doodh peda made with pure khova looks a bit darker than pure white or light cream colour ones with added milk powder. The one with milk powder tastes bad, and leaves a bad feeling on the tongue after eating it.

Diwali was here, and I wanted to give return gift of sweets to a friend. I had Nandini brand khova in stock. Nandini brand is also inexpensive and pretty good. So I decided to make Kesar Doodh Peda at home. Browsing through various recipes, I found out that most of them go the easier way of combining condensed milk and milk powder to make pedas. Few recipes showed how to make milk khova by condensing milk and then make peda. I used my own method, and made these fantastic delicious kesar doodh pedas. Adding little liquid glucose to sugar syrup makes them stay softer, as liquid glucose is a stabiliser that prevents sugar from getting crystallised. If you get khova easily, you can also make this faster than following the elaborate method of condensing milk! If you don't get ready made khova, you can boil 4 liters of milk in a thick bottom kadai, keep stirring it for an hour or more on low flame and make khova. After all, freshly made khova makes the doodh pedas more delicious!
Milk Khova/Mawa - 400 Gms crumbled
Sugar - 200 Gms(Adjust according to taste)
Liquid Glucose - 2 Tsp
Ghee - 2 Tsp
Kesar(Saffron) - A generous pinch soaked in 2 tbsp hot milk
Pistachios - 25-30 slivered length wise
Cardamom Powder(Optional) - 1/2 Tsp

Heat 1/4 cup water in a thick bottom pan, add sugar.
As sugar starts to boil and forms a thin syrup, mix in liquid glucose, combine well.
Lower the heat and add crumbled khova, once it melts, add ghee.
Keep mixing  on low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the mass starts to get thick.
Add saffron soaked in milk and mix well.
Take care not to burn the ingredients.
Keep mixing, and when the mass is almost dry, transfer it to a platter, spread it evenly and allow to cool down completely.
Knead the mass well and make gooseberry size balls, make a depression in the center with your finger, flatten them slightly between your palms, or just make a ring pattern using the potato peeler like I did.
You can also use a floral mould to make lovely patterns on them.
Stick a piece of slivered pistachio on center top of each one of them, arrange on a plate and enjoy delicious Kesar Doodh Pedas.
You can store them in an airtight jar and keep them fresh for 3-4 days, then transfer them into a fridge.

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