It’s that time of the year again. The time of the year when the hearts of most Indians (well, most Hindus, anyway) start beating just a little faster. With anticipation, with excitement and if one is far away from the Motherland, with nostalgia laced with a tinge of sadness at missing out on the enjoyment…
Diwali, the glorious Indian festival of lights is just a few days away and I can only imagine the flurry of cleaning, cooking and shopping going on in households throughout the country right now. The energy is almost palpable!
Growing up in Bombay, Diwali meant school vacations, new clothes and lots of traditional snacks and sweets, made and shared by Mom, aunts and neighbours. It meant a thoroughly cleaned house, garlands on the front door, rangoli at the home entrance, lights and a shimmering lantern at the windows.
It also meant lighting little oil lamps outside our home every evening at sun-down in the hope of enticing Goddess Lakshmi to pay our home a visit And it meant fireworks! Waking up at 6 a.m. and running down to meet your neighbourhood friends to burst crackers before everyone else woke up…And lighting up the sky again with fireworks every evening. I know it’s terrible for the environment, but for a kid brimming with anticipation, Diwali was magic!
Now, the fireworks are a distant dream (although Copenhagen does celebrate New Year’s Eve with fabulous pyrotechnics, the noise levels are nothing compared to Bombay), but I still like to maintain the rest of the Diwali traditions: the house cleaning is in progress, new clothes have been bought and some festive treats are on the cards.
The first of which are these fudgy, melt-in-your-mouth pedas. Pedas are disc-shaped sweets made and enjoyed on all happy occasions. They are the simplest of sweets made with milk solids (khoya) and sugar, though some exotic varieties do exist.
Now, in Copenhagen, it is almost impossible to find khoya and if I did find one at an Indian grocers’ I wouldn’t vouch for its freshness. Instead I decided to experiment with a tub of ricotta I had in my refrigerator and voila, success has never tasted this good 😀
The ricotta needs to be caramelised slowly until it resembles grains of sand. This makes the pedas taste just like the famous Mathura ke Pede or the Dharwad Peda. So rustic, so simple and so, so delicious. I used brown sugar to add to the color of the pedas and these turned out divine. These take a bit longer than the instant pedas, but isn’t Diwali worth the extra effort? I certainly think so
Do give these delights a try this Diwali. They are wonderfully sublime and every bite is filled with nostalgia (for me atleast). I wish you and your families a Happy Diwali, glowing with Peace, Joy and Prosperity ❤️
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- 1 tub (250 grams) Ricotta
- 1 tablespoon Ghee
- 3 tablespoons Brown Sugar (more or less as per taste)
- Approx. 2 tablespoons Milk
- Almond Slivers to decorate
- Heat the ghee in a non stick pan.
- Add the ricotta and cook on medium till most of the liquid evaporates. Keep stirring constantly.
- Once the ricotta starts coming together like a ball, reduce heat to low and start break up the ricotta into smaller pieces. Keep stirring and do not let the ricotta burn.
- Keep breaking the ricotta up until it resembles grains of sand and is also light golden brown. This should take about 30-40 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Pour the milk over the ricotta grains, add about one and half tablespoons brown sugar and mix well. Allow the mixture to cool down.
- Once the mixture is cool, transfer to a food processor and process, till the mixture is very soft and smooth. Add a little more milk if necessary.
- Return the mixture to the pan and heat it gently. Taste and add more brown sugar if desired.
- Cook for about 5 minutes. Turn onto a plate and let cool a bit.
- Shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls and flatten slightly.
- Garnish with a sliver of almond and serve.
- These will keep for 3-4 days in the refrigerator.