Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Badam Halwa (Almond Sweet) for Amma's Birthday
(lots of photos in here, so apologies for the slow download!)
Optimism, Child-like Enthusiasm, a Positive Mind, Cheerfulness, Creativity, Resilience, and an Amazing Patience - all Personified. That’s Chitra Amma for you! I have never seen her down for a long time and she will never loose her temper no matter what! (I have literally seen her flare up just once or twice – so you can imagine what kind of aggravation can make that happen – and God save the aggravator!) I feel I live a very good life, because I like to think that there is maybe just a very tiny microgram of her qualities in me (okay..okay … I do loose my temper very often..and patience?? Whats that?)!
Today is Chitra Amma’s Birthday, and so this blog post and preparation is by me for her – to wish her a wonderful day and year ahead, and to thank her for being what she is! Hot Badam Halwa that melts in your mouth – what can be a more special dish for a special person? Well, amma is currently in Portland visiting my brother and sister-in-law, so she will just have to imagine this badam halwa, while I feast on it here! (I just need any excuse to indulge!)
I found this recipe in Vah Chef’s videos. Check the video here. Here are the quantities I used, and some of my learnings. I surprised myself, as it turned out absolutely delicious, aromatic and melts in your mouth – just like good halwas should!
Badam (Almonds) - 2 cups
Milk – 2 cups
Sugar – 2 cups (you can add more if you have a sweet tooth!)
Ghee – 2 cups
Saffron Strands – a pinch
Fresh cardamom powder – ½ tsp
1. Boil Almonds for a few minutes until the skins are wrinkled. Immerse them in cold water. Remove the skins and discard.
2. Grind Almonds and milk together into a paste. You can stop just short of making a very fine paste – smooth as say idli batter.
3. Take a heavy bottomed vessel and heat ½ cup ghee on a low flame.
4. When the ghee has melted, add the badam and milk mixture. Stir well and begin cooking. Keep the flame in low through-out the preparation. As the mixture cooks, it will thicken.
5. Now add the sugar and one cup of ghee and stir and continue cooking. Be very careful not to burn the bottom, as even a slight browning can spoil the taste of badam halwa.
6. You will soon see small eruptions on the surface. This is what I call ‘volcanos and dimples stage’ and its real fun to see it happen!! Be very careful as this is really hot, and can burn your skin. Keep stirring to prevent burning!
7. The ‘volcanoes and dimples’ will subside, and the ghee will start separating from the halwa as the mixture cooks.
8. Now add the saffron, cardamom powder and the remaining ghee and continue stirring.
The saffron will provide a lovely colour to the badam halwa. I don’t like adding colour to my cooking – else a drop of yellow food colour can make this ‘hotel style’!
9. Pour the halwa into a flat decorative tray (I just used a foil tray) – and make sure you take the first serving for yourself, and enjoy the ‘halwa’ of your labour!
a) Although this was the first time I tried this, it turned out absolutely delicious !
b) Badam quantity can be deceptive! Initially, I took only ½ the pack, and felt it would be too less. However, with the full pack (1 kilo), I landed up with a huge volume of halwa as you can see in the snaps! If you land up making too much – pack some off to your near and dear ones, and they will be super thrilled! I have therefore, halved the quantities in the recipe here!
c) Don’t be conservative with ghee. This is a rich dish, and if you do not add sufficient ghee, it will not taste good. Further, less ghee increases risk of the halwa sticking at the bottom of the vessel and burning. Ghee also allows the halwa to stay for a long time. My halwa has stayed at room temperature for a week now (Sydney is cold of course), and it is still fresh and good to go, after 10 secs in the micro!
d) Now since you are adding all that ghee, use a good quality ghee which smells fragnant! I buy high quality white butter, and make the ghee at home – as I am just not satisfied with store bought ghee!
e) Make sure you have high energy and are in the mood to cook, when you begin this venture!You will need to stir, and stir and stir continuously, and it takes nearly an hour to cook! If you relax, the halwa can burn in a second!
e) Motivate your spouse to help you with the stirring! Hubby and I took turns, so that we did not leave the halwa unsupervised for even a second!
f) Watch the Vah Chef’s video to learn the recipe and get entertained as well!!