Long long ago…..( I can actually start this story by saying… 🙂 that ) Halwasan and Bhavnagari Peda were the only mithai that found their way into our house. The Burfis were considered to be to adulterated and Shrikhand and Bhakhri ladoo were made at home, the so very popular Bengali sweets were absent from the Mithai scene during those days… those means more than 35 years ago….Gulab Jamum entered the house after Amul launched them. My Pappa continues to be a great Amul loyalist and hence any other sweets especially from the local mithaiwala never made it on our plates…..
The well cooked, overtly sweet and a bit tough yet crumbly Bhavnagari Peda were absolutely delish with the Bhavnagari Pedas. They were like a match made in heaven each complimenting the other. The Halwasan on the other had is fudgy, gooey and extremely soft. There was this particular place from where my Pappa would get it for us, don’t know much about it now..and it was always fresh and tasted caramely, may be the reason I liked it so much as caramel is my favourite taste.
Halwasan is a traditional mithai that is very unique to a town called Khambhati or Cambay as it is called sometimes.
The advent of various mithai made using dry fruits (which they hardly do) have pushed such traditional and healthy mithai to the margins, made using milk, whole wheat flour and edible gum this is an extremely nutritious and a must have. The nutmeg powder in the Halwasan lends it a very warm and earthy flavour.
The recipe that I share with you is by Meenakhsi aunty, a very close family friend who also shares the same passion for food and cooking. We made it in her kitchen one morning while having our Chai dose, if you have your ingredients in place it is that easy and quick to make. I was surprised to know that we need to caramelise sugar for this dish making me realise why I liked Halwasan so much as a child. No fancy stuff just some regular pantry staples and we have our Halwasan ready. Care has to be take to keep stirring the mixture continuously and while caramelising the sugar.
The recipe may seem lengthy but its absolutely easy, try making it and introducing it to your family…
- 2 liters full fat milk
- 6 tablespoons edible gum
- 6 tablespoons whole wheat flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 2-3 tablespoons yogurt ( to curdle the milk)
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cardamon powder
- almonds and pistachios to garnish
Put the milk in a heavy bottom pan and place the pan on a medium flame.
Once the milk comes to near boil add the yogurt so as to curdle the milk.
We are not removing the pan from fire. Instead let it simmer on slow flame, stirring occasionally.
In a heavy bottom kadai or wok put the ghee and add the edible gum, once the gum cooks and swells up (which will be very fast) remove it immediately and add the fried gum to the curdled milk.
In the same kadai which will have some ghee remaining add the wheat flour and roast it till it turns light pink. Once the flour is lightly roasted add it to the simmering milk mixture. The mixture will look like a curdled porridge.
Again in the same kadai, add the sugar and allow it to caramelize to a light amber color. Be very careful here. If the sugar is caramelized more it may start tasting bitter and will make the Halwasan bitter.
Add the caramelized sugar to the milk mixture. Keep stirring until it the mixture is thick enough and leaves the sides.
Conduct a test, take a pea sized mixture and if it forms a ball and holds its shape the mix is ready.
Remove from flame. Add the nutmeg and cardamon powders. Mix well.
Once the mixture has come to room temperature, shape it in lemon sized balls, flatten it a bit and decorate with almond and pistachios.