Kesar Peda

शुभ दीपावली

Among Indians the very mention of the word Peda evokes good feelings. They are a symbol of celebration; be it any major festival, birth, marriage, or just any piece of good news. This milky fudge is a delight any time. In Gujarat, I didn’t meet a peda that I didn’t like. I miss them so much here in California. In most towns in Gujarat you will find a big Farsaan Dukaan (snack shop) with a variety of pedas each with a distinct flavor and taste. I always wondered how each variety differed in taste from the other because it seemed like they were all made with just milk and sugar as their ingredients.  Making pedas at home from scratch is a long and laborious process (you need to cook milk until the last drop of water is evaporated) so it’s quite common to buy khoya and make pedas at home. I haven’t been happy with the khoya available in the freezer sections of bay area stores and so had been trying different peda recipes that didn’t require khoya. I quite liked this recipe from my sister. It makes dozens of delicious pedas in no time.

Kesar Peda (Small)

I recommend that you use boora sugar (also called tagar) instead of regular sugar. Pedas come out tastier with it. See if your local Indian grocery store carries this sugar. I have heard that some do. If you don’t have boora sugar, just regular sugar.

2 cups Milk-mawa powder (Available in most Indian grocery stores).  2 good recommendations for milk powder are: Nido instant whole milk powder and nature’s full cream milk powder available at:

http://www.packitgourmet.com/Nido-Instant-Whole-Milk-Powder-p437.html

Fresh cream 1 cup (250 ml)
3/4 cup powdered sugar (preferably boora sugar)
3 table spoon warm milk
1/4 tea spoon saffron/kesar ( A big pinch)
1 tea spoon ghee or butter
1 tea spoon powdered cardamoms
A few pistachios (optional)
Makes approx. 18 pedas.

Preparation:
Warm  3 table spoons of milk until it is quite warm. Add crushed saffron and mix. Keep aside.

Method
1. In a 10-12 inch wide kadhai or non-stick pan, mix cream and milk powder and cook on medium heat until the mixture is semi-solid. This will take approx. 12-15 minutes. Just before removing add the Kesar/saffron milk and mix well.
2. Remove the mixture from heat and let it come to room temperature. (this will take about an hour)
3. Mix sugar, butter, and cardamom powder well into the mixture. Taste and see if you want more sugar.
4. Let the mixture cool down further for atleast about 30 minutes. (This is important)
4. Take about 2 table spoon of the mixture and form into 2 inch diameter balls. Press on top with your thumb. Or press the top with a coin-like object with a design. Here I have used a wheel that came off from a toy motorcycle!
5. Decorate with crushed pistachio pieces on top if you like.

It’s important that you let the mixture cool before adding the sugar. If you mix sugar when the mixture is still hot, the pedas will be be too soft and won’t hold shape.

It takes about 3-4 hours for the pedas to set well and taste best a day after they are made.

Boora Sugar (Tagar)
Boora sugar is sugar that is cooked in water until it is crystallized. Then it’s cooled until completely dry. Indian sweets especially laddus and pedas taste much better when made with boora sugar. Here is the recipe.

1. In a wide kadhai add 4 cups of sugar and 2 cups of water.
2. Keep the heat on medium and cook the sugar syrup until it becomes thick and transparent. This will take approximately 12-15 minutes.
3. Take a drop of the syrup and put it on a plate. If the sugar quickly sets into a ball with crystals on top, the syrup is ready.
4. Take the kadhai off the stove and keep stirring the syrup for about 3-4 minutes.
5. Let the syrup cool completely. (About 30 minutes)
6. Once the syrup has completely cooled, it will look like hard blocks of sugar but now it’s boora sugar. You can put the boora sugar in a food processor and whirl it for about 30 seconds to get a fine, free-flowing sugar.