Deepavali is right around the corner and I am sure most of you are very busy shopping and preparing sweets and savouries. I started off my bakshanam galore yesterday with my usual Thirattippaal.
I am not sure why, but I will not deviate from this routine of thirattippaal being my first deepavali recipe every year without fail. I am very used to this recipe that I do it without measuring anything, not that it particularly needs accuracy! There are just two ingredients and what is so much to measure?
However, having started on it I decided I will measure atleast for blogging the correct measures. To my utter bewilderment, I realised my so called "standard cup" with 240 ml -1 cup labelled on it was neither 1 cup nor was 240 ml. first I decided I made a mistake, did it with the next pack of milk, Lo! same. I am pretty sure about my math and basic division. The milk measured more than 4 cups and was almost another half, whereas it should be few spoons full of the remaining 40 ml of milk. Whew! what I have been doing all these years measuring with this 'standard cup'?
That made me dig into my long unused utensils in a carton and bring out my all faithful aazhaakku measure (that is exactly 250 ml, I assure having ensured weighing water in it against the volume).
This also made me reflect about putting up some basics for Indian cooking. There are certain preparations that feature in most recipes like the unsweetened khova/mawa, the potato curry which takes as many avathars as filling, accompaniment and just a side dish, also there is the rice flour pounding, urad dhal roasting etc. So today I post the making of unsweetened khova which is a base recipe in dhoodhpedas, gulab jamuns, and so on.
It is very simple yet time consuming. To condense 2 litres (8 cups) of milk might be a process which will consume an hour and a half to two in time and as much equivalent fuel.
There are certain measures of caution to exercise too.
You should use a wide utensil, filling only near to the half mark. What we call the Malayala uruli, the heavy, wide,bronze utensil coated on the inner with an alloy of tin is best suitable. I use my heavy sandwich bottom pressure cooker. Using copper bottom is not recommended as copper conducts heat very fast.
The fire should be optimum. Keeping the fire very high might boil the milk over, while keeping it too low will result in the colour being rather brown than pleasantly pink-red.
It is also advisable to do it in 2 or 3 litres at one go.
Having said all this, I hope not to have put you off the idea of making khova at home. I can assure you, if you bear all this in mind, the process is very simple.
Take a suitable vessel. Run 1/2 cup of cold water around the inner walls and the bottom. Measure 8 cups of milk and put the utensil on fire. The heat can be at the maximum until the milk begins to boil.
Reduce the fire to medium, stir the contents, scrapping out what sticks on the walls of the utensil.
Allow the milk to simmer on this heat stirring occasionally but atleast at ten minute intervals, repeating the scrapping of the milk stuck to the walls.
Around an hours time the milk would have reduced to 1/2 of it's initial volume.
It will form a thick puddle with some solidified mass. Now on, keep the fire even lower and stir regularly to avoid this to stick at the bottom.
The fat in the milk will cause the mass to bubble and break. You have a thicker milk solid there. Bring the fire to the lowest. To protect your hand from blisters wear a kitchen gloves or cover your hand wrist down with some thick handkerchief while stirring.
Finally the milk will thicken and form a heavy mass that will no longer stick to the bottom. Switch the fire off and allow the condensed milk to cool in the same utensil.
The picture here shows the milk in various stages, taken at different intervals.
Remove and store until further use. Can be made ahead and refridgerated for upto three days.
This can be used for making dhoodh peda by mixing with it powdered sugar.
To make thirattippaal, add 3/4 cups of sugar at the point when you reduced the fire to the lowest. The sugar will initially melt to make the mass watery and then blend with the milk. Cook further until they blend well and thicken before switching the fire off.
The khova once ready can be used to make gulab jamuns by adding maida to it,makkhan peda, mohandhal etc. The varietiy sweets are more and every bit delicious.