Kada Prasad – Recipe And A Food Story


The melodious strains of Gurbani, prabhat pheris, prakash utsav, lagars ( free community meals)  and the unforgettable kada prasad were my initiation to something that would become a very important part of my life.

I was a young girl searching for solace. Drawn to the local Gurudwara by the strains of music I would go inside and get transported to a totally different world. Neither a Sikh nor a religeous person this experience was purely spiritual.

I remembered a Sikh friend’s granny giving me an extremely delicious halwa as prasad. I asked what it was made of and couldn’t believe when she said wheat flour. Now, we too made aate ka halwa but it never tasted like the one from the Gurudwara or from her kitchen. I insisted on other helping which she lovingly gave and told me that prasad is to be eaten like prasad not like mithai.

Whenever I found an opportunity I would visit the nearby Gurudwara for the shabad and for the prasad. The serenity of the place always calmed me down. I learned to prepare this divine prasad from beeji as she was called by my friend. I had just passed out from school and I think that was the last time we met before going our ways. We used to lead the school choir that participated in shabad & Kirtan competitions and still have my winning certificates of merit from Mata Sundari College.

Later, Gurudwara became a spiritual sanctuary for me, a place where I would go and spend hours sitting in complete silence, soaking in the healing viberations. Letting go of all the sorrow that filled my heart. Sometimes the tears would flow but no one paid attention or judged. I was at home inside that place of bliss. It is still a place where I become a witness to myself. Sometimes I would quietly sit by the sarovar and read Sukhmani sahib or Dukh bhanjini sahib. The words cleansed me from inside out. For me it was not just a journey with but a source of strength to cope with what lay ahead.

I still go to Bangla Sahib whenever possible though lately my visits have become irregular. You must do the seva in some Gurudwara at least once in a lifetime. I can not explain the feeling one experiences.

Today, I am sharing that recipe with you. Though I can never replicate the original. It does, however, bring back the same taste from my youth.

These silver katoris are from my childhood. Perhaps presented or bought at birth so about fifty year old. 🙂

This simple recipe for Kada Prasad doesn’t need any dry fruits or other add-ons. The flavor comes from the roasting of wheat flour in pure desi ghee or clarified butter. Roasting is also the most important aspect of making the halwa. It has to be even and just the right rich brown color or it won’t give you the authentic taste of the prasad. Also, the wheat flour needs to be coarse (Dardara) to get the right texture. You can use the usual wheat flour too but the texture won’t be like the one made in Gurudwaras. Two things that are a MUST in this recipe – Ghee and right proportion of the ingredients. You can not replace Ghee with anything else. Also, the halwa made from prasad is NEVER heated again. Something I learned from beeji.

One of the simplest of recipes and yet the richest. Today being Gurubpurab I decided to make the halwa and distribute to neighbors and family members.

Here is my recipe :

Whole wheat flour ( coarsly ground) – 1 Cup

Sugar -1 Cup

Pure Ghee (Clarified Butter ) –  1 Cup ( Yes, the halwa is laden with ghee and that is why it should be eaten less)

Water – 3 Cups

The proportion is always – 1-1-1-3 You can always double triple or half, quarter the proportion as per need.

 

Steps : 

In a kadhayi heat the water and add sugar to it. Stir to dissolve and keep aside. You can add the sugar directly also. If doing that just heat the water and keep aside for later use. Heating the water ensures that there is no change of temperature when it is added to hot roasted flour. It also ensures even cooking.

In another kadhayi heat the ghee till nicely warm. Add the wheat flour / atta and stir. Keep the flame on slow – medium as the flour tends to rapidly change from light brown – dark brown  and burnt stage.

This is an important process so do it it with patience and love.

You will see the color change, keep stirring till you get to the stage where the color is rich brown and the mixture has a sand like grainy texture. The butty aroma is another sign of an evenly roasted aata. You will also notice the ghee leaving the sides now.

At this point, add the hot sugar water to the wheat ghee mixture. Be careful not to scald yourself. Stir vigorously so that no lumps are formed. Shift to medium heat to ensure the right consistency. Now turn the flame to low and keep stirring till all the water absorbs and the halwa reaches the right consistency. The ghee will starts leaving the sides again once that happens.

Turn off the gas and remove the prasad in a clean bowl. Usually the halwa is covered with a cloth and cut into five portions for each of the Sikh Gurus and then distributed after the prayer and offering.

You can garnish with almonds if not making as prasad.

An interesting fact from my marital village in Himachal –

The village of Mairi has Dera Baba Vadbhag Singh Ji Gurudwara. After the Holi / Baisakhi Mela finishes the devotees or Sangat are offered karah prasad that is kept covered in a large kadhayi locked inside the basement in the gurudwara. After the ardas when the door is opened the prasad has a large hand imprint on it. It is believed that Baba ji comes to bless the prasad. It is then called panje ka prasad. No one knows how that miracle happens but faith keeps the prasad good for years. My MIL says that the prasad never gets spoiled. I will some day write about my experience of the village life etc.

For now, Keep your heart light burning bright. Stay blessed and once again a very blessed gurupurab to all of you. Remember the teachings of Baba Nanak who left us a beautiful treasure of how the life should be.

 

Awwal Allah Noor Upaya Qudrat Keh Sub Banday

Aik Noor Keh Sub Jag Upajiya Kaun Bhale Ko Mandhe

God created light of which all the beings were born

And from this light, the universe; so who is good and who is bad

 

 

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Recipe – Sweet Potato | Shakarkandi Halwa


Shakarkand or Sweet Potatos are in season and I am including them in my daily meals in one way or the other. Mostly I love to just roast or boil them to eat as chaat but sometimes I indulge in a dessert like shakarkand ka halwa or shakarkand ke gulab jamun. This is my first sweet potato halwa of the season. Sangeeta Khanna of Healthfood Desi Videshi has some interesting salads and other recipes with sweet potato that I plan to try. Sweet potatoes are very healthy and can be used instead of white potatoes. It is a rich source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

The Indian sweet potato has a nice pink skin and a yellowish white flesh inside.

Frankly I had no idea how creative one can in cooking with them. The tuber is so varsetile that it can be used for soups, salads, cassroles, chips, stir fries, and desserts of all kinds. It can be baked, roasted, boiled or used raw as per the need and taste. The leaves of the sweet potato are also edible. I mean the list is endless. one is just spoilt for choices.

Shakarkand ka halwa is a winter speciality. This sweet tuber is a favorite with people who are fasting and is part of the diwali faraal. Delicate sweetness of boiled mashed sweet potatoes, just the right amount of sugar flavoured with green cardamom gives it a unique taste. I don’t use milk in in the recipe but some people do.

Ingredients for the halwa : 

Sweet Potatoes – 2-3 Medium size (1 cup boiled/mashed)

Sugar – (depends on the sweetness of sweet potato so add accordingly)

Ghee –  3-4 tablespoon

Green Cardamom Powder – 1/4 tsp

Almonds or Cashewnuts for garnish

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Method –

Choose sweet potatoes that are firm and do not have any cracks, bruises or soft spots. Wash them clean and boil till they become soft. You can steam, microwave or pressurecook them too.

Once they are tender, take them out in a plate and peel.

Mash and keep aside.

In a heavy bottom pan heat ghee (clarified butter) or oil. ( I prefer ghee).

Add mashed sweet potatoes to the hot ghee and stir.

Let it cook on low-medium heat till the rawness is gone and a nice aroma begins to float from it. Add cardamom powder and saute some more. I saute it till it gives a slightly toasted aroma.

At this point stir in the sugar. Do taste the shakarkand to adjust the sugar. Mix well.

Now, cook it till it becomes nice golden brown.

Keep stiring so it doesnt stick to the bottom of the pan.

When the halwa gets a nice colour add shredded blanched almonds or roasted crushed cashewnuts. I find almonds taste better than cashewnuts. It is a personal preferance.

Take it off the heat and serve hot garnished with more nuts. You can sprinkle some cardamom powder on top.

Tell me how do you use Sweet potatoes?

Semolina Pudding (Halwa/Sheera) with Saffron and Fresh Grated Coconut


I have a sweet tooth and fortunately I have no issues with either ghee or sugar so my preferred desserts are mainly Indian sweets. Every region has its own specialty and a distinct way of preparing the sweets.  Sweets were offered to the deities and were part of every auspicious occasion in Indian households. No meal is considered complete without a sweet dish. Mostly the sweets are made keeping in mind the local ingredients, climatic conditions, geography and cultural heritage.

Indian sweets are mainly f two kinds – milk based and flour based. No where in the world one would find such richness of textures, flavours, colors and shapes  in desserts as in India. Many of these recipes originated centuries ago and a lot of them have slowly disappeared from the home kitchens and markets due to the  time-consuming and tedious process of preparing them. Many sweets were just limited to homes and were cooked on special occasions, festivals only. These irresistible delicacies evolved and influenced by other cuisines over the time but they have not lost their original identity, in fact they have become richer and suited to the palate of modern health conscious people.

Some of the desserts like kheer, laddoo and halwa (pudding), barfi  are popular across North India and prepared more than other sweets.  Some variations of these are also used as Prasadam in various temples and in religeous ceremonies at home.

I love Carrot Halwa, Moong daal halwa  and whole wheat halwa but sooji halwa is something one can make in jiffy on any given day when the craving becomes too much to handle. 😀

Sooji or semlina halwa is one of the most popular desserts in India and there are many variations to the dish. This moist “spiritually infused” comfort food is loved by almost everyone. It looks very easy to make but can go wrong drastically if not made with care. Many new brides are told to make it as their first preparation in the kitchen to judge their culinary skills :D.

Here is my recipe of Sooji halwa with saffron and fresh grated coconut.

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Ingredients :

Sooji / rava or Semolina – I cup (I use the coarse variety not the fine one)

Sugar – 1 cup ( according to the taste)

Grated Fresh Coconut – 1/2 cup

Milk – 2 table-spoon

water – 3 cups

saffron – few strands

Nuts and Raisins – per choice

Green cardamom – 2-3

Clarified butter / Pure ghee – three table Spoon full

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Method :

Warm the milk and add saffron strands to it. Mix well and leave to get the color and flavor.

Dry roast semolina on low flame till pink . (Always slightly roast semolina before putting in away in air light containers. It won’t go bad)

Dry roast fresh grated coconut on low heat till it changes color slightly .

Soak the raisins , almonds etc in some water , drain and keep aside.

Now take a heavy bottom wok or pan and put the clarified butter / ghee in it. Heat the pan on high flame and then lower the flame.

Add sooji /semolina in it and keep stirring till it becomes slightly golden-yellow. Then add grated coconut and green cardamom to it.

Stir the mixture on very low heat till you can get the aroma of the roasted ingredients and make sure not to brown them too much.  Tip: Use wooden spoon or a spatula.

Once done add water and stir quickly so that there are no lumps. Keep it on medium flame.

Add saffron milk and stir. Lower the flame again.

The mixture will bubble and thicken.

Once all the water is absorbed add sugar. (Some people make sugar syrup but I prefer it this way. Adding sugar after the mixture has absorbed ware will ensure that the semolina has properly soaked the moisture and puffed properly. Once sugar is added the process stops)

Gently turn the mixture so that it gets cooked properly . Add raisins and nuts.

Once the halwa gets a nice pudding like grainy texture and leaves the sides. Make sure it doesn’t become too dry or too sticky. Keep heat low.

Making it a few times will get the right texture. After all it is an art. 🙂 Just follow the simple rules of heat adjustments and measurements. Water should be thrice the amount of sooji. 1 cup sooji – 3 cup water. Keep the heat on lower side. Give it some love and patience. There are no short cuts to good cooking. Roast sooji properly or the raw taste will ruin the halwa but do not brown it too much. Keep trying  and you will succeed. I too had my share of horrors when I learned it as a girl. 😀

Turn off the heat and stir & break the pudding in such a way that it doesn’t form a large mass. Take it out in a serving dish.

Garnish with nuts and serve hot.

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As we say in Hindustani ” meetha khao meetha bolo” ( Eat sweet and speak sweet )