Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Diwali That Wasn't. Skip Dinner, Go Straight To Dessert.


   This has not been the easiest year for my family. My mom died in January and my dad just last month. My usual recourse to Kitchen Therapy has been spotty at best. That said, I decided I really needed to get back into the kitchen again where all things are made right, and all hash (metaphorically speaking) is settled. I decided that I'd get a jump on all the holiday cooking that lies ahead by starting with a Diwali Dinner. What better way to start cooking again than with a traditional festival of light, a triumph of good over evil, light over darkness, right over wrong. Well, someone should have told my stove. Because right in the middle of my dinner prep, with all the guests invited, it decided to give up the ghost.

   I suppose I should have been suspicious when it took an extraordinarily long time to toast my besan flour, when nothing seemed to stick together or actually cook through. At first I thought it was just me. I've been upset, the family has been in mourning. I've been eating out, a terrifying amount of stuff I normally wouldn't eat, at hours I never eat. I was out of practice, my kadhai didn't feel like my own. Something was wrong and I blamed myself. Doh. I should have noticed my burners. The rat brain that powers my stove's computer (or whatever it is that makes it work) had gone round the bend. The burners worked just fine, except when there was an actual pot on them. That was why nothing was getting cooked, or cooked correctly.

   I wound up unable to cook my Mushroom Dum Biryani, my Palak Paneer, (I did manage to get the paneer cheese made) my turnip masala or my chapattis. So there I was, with a lovely table all set for feasting, a long trail of floating candles in glass, marigolds scattered over the tablecloth, thalis ready and waiting. But nothing ready to serve except dessert, and that was only because I'd made it a day earlier. Before everything went pear shaped.

   The dessert was my husband's idea. He is a chess fanatic is is eagerly awaiting the up-coming World Chess Championship from November 9th to the 28th in Chennai, India.

Defending championChallenger
Viswanathan Anand
Magnus Carlsen
 Viswanathan Anand (IND)  Magnus Carlsen (NOR)
Born 11 December 1969
43 years old
Born 30 November 1990
22 years old
Winner of the 2012 World Chess Championship Winner of the 2013 Candidates Tournament

   Alan has been requesting that I cook some dishes from Chennai in honor of the chess tournament. Dessert for Diwali dinner therefore was going to be Paruppu Pradhaman, aka, Chana Dal Payasam. Now most sane people who cook chana dal, do so in a pressure cooker. However, having undergone severe childhood trauma involving witnessing a canned tamale/pressure cooker interaction (don't ask) I have refused to purchase said device as an adult. Rest assured however that this recipe is easily made even if not using a pressure cooker. I'll tell you both ways. The result is a delicious sweet creamy pudding.

Chana Dal Payasam

Here's What You Need:

1 cup of chana dal
1 cup of jaggery (or dark brown sugar)
1 cup of full fat coconut milk
4Tbs of whole milk
14 cashews halved
2 pinches of powdered ginger
4 tsp ghee or melted unsalted butter

Here's What To Do:

In a pan or skillet dry roast the chana dal until it turns a golden brown.

If you are using a pressure cooker, put the chana dal in the pressure cooker with just enough water to cover it and pressure cook it for 3 or four whistles.
Note: I have no idea what this means as I don't pressure cook but those of you who do, I salute you!
For those of us who use the old fashioned pot method, put the toasted chana dal in a pot with 3 cups of water. Bring it to a boil and then turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 1 hour. You don't want the dal to get squishy, just tender enough to eat.
Set the dal aside.

Meanwhile while that is going on:
Soak the jaggery or brown sugar in warm water. The water should just cover the sugar, in other words not too much.

Heat the jaggery/sugar in the pot until it starts to thicken and get creamy.
Set it aside.
Heat the 4 tsp of butter or ghee in a skillet, when the butter is hot add in the cashews.

Fry them until they are nice and golden toasted. Set them aside.
Reheat the sugar syrup until it starts to thicken. This should take about 2 minutes
Add the cooked chana dal to the sugar syrup.

Mash the dal into the syrup.

Once the dal and sugar syrup have gotten mashed together pour in the coconut milk.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then add in 4 tbs of whole milk, and 2 pinches of ginger.

Stir everything together well. Take the pan from the fire and add in the fried cashew pieces.

You can serve this dish hot or cold. Personally I always prefer my payasam to be served warm.

diwali sweets
Sweet, and full of protein from nuts and dal, this makes a wonderful warming dessert for those cold evenings ahead.

   That then is the tale of my failed Diwali dinner. The call is out to the stove people hopefully things will be back and working again soon. Meanwhile, I'll  see what I can whip up just using fire and a microwave. I feel like McGruber.  Follow along on Twitter @kathygori

1 comment :

  1. You have had a tough year; thinking we both have. Which means we need to get together and kick up our heels! It might be early but's to a fabulous 2014!!



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