Diwali, the biggest Hindu holiday of the year, is coming up on Saturday–it’s celebrated with the making, giving, and eating of sweets, or mithai. If you’ve stopped into a mithai shop, you’ve seen an array of the psychedelically multicolored sweets–burfis, laddos, chum chums, and jalebi. Most are made with some combination of boiled-down milk, nuts, and/or ghee. Pedas are smallish, flat disks, made with reduced milk and sometimes flavored with saffron (kesar). They’re given out at any happy occasion–weddings, births, parties–and are often eaten for Diwali.
Making pedas is actually very simple, and the mildly sweet, aromatic treats are delicious with a cup of tea. Click through for the recipe.
This is what the mixture will look like when it has about five minutes left to cook.
Yield: About 30 peda
Crushed pistachios are the traditional garnish, but slivered almonds also work well.
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads, crumbled between your fingers
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups non-fat dry milk
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
crushed or slivered nuts, for garnish
In a small bowl, combine the saffron and the milk and set aside to steep for 30 minutes. In a saucepan, combine the sugar and cream, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and stir in the dry milk and ricotta cheese. Cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the milk with the saffron. Lower the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring, until the mixture has thickened considerably, into a kind of wet paste, and pulls away from the sides of the pan. Depending on your stove and pan, this may take anywhere from 15 minutes to 40 minutes. (In any case, continue to stir to ensure the mixture does not burn.)
Pour mixture out into a bowl, and allow to cool for about 1 hour. When firm and cool, roll small portions of the mixture between your hands to create 1-inch diameter rounded patties. Press some nuts into the center of each peda with your thumb. Serve at room temperature.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 15, 2009