Irrespective of the fact that I go off blogging for long intervals, April marks the anniversary month for Flavours and Tastes. I created the blog on a whim when Laavanya sent the link to her blog. Initially I wanted to follow and try recipes from bloggers. Then as I wanted to record a few recipes for my daughter and few of her friends, I made posts and from thereon it has been a very happy blogging experience. Today i count myself blessed that I have many friends through this tiny space that I interact virtually.
And this would also be the 300th post, however neglected this space would feel. Thus I had wanted to post a sweet dish which I would have not dared try without prior knowledge my husband relished it on the occasion of our friend's sixtieth birthday last year!
Many of the readers may by now heard about a score of times that my husband is not fond of many vegetables. What might surprise you is that he dislikes them at sight...he has never tried them at all.
Few years ago, while we were purchasing a box of sweets from a popular restaurant chain, the representative there offered my husband a tiny ball of a pink coloured sweet. He ate it and said it was good, but once he knew it was ash gourd cooked and soaked in sugar syrup, did not buy the same!
He has lately started tasting many other vegetables, thanks again to the blog!
On this above mentioned occasion, the caterers served the Kashi halwa and to my surprise, my husband tried more than two helpings! That very instant I decided to hunt for Ash gourd / white pumpkin and make this at home. My idea was to purchase one big enough to try the sweet and keep aside a good portion to make my favourite kootu.
Recently in a vegetable shop the man was willing to sell cut portions and I mentioned the Kashi halwa to my husband and hoped he would let me buy the vegetable. And guess what!!!! he willingly agreed.
Thus kashi halwa was tried and tasted at home for the Ugadi festival a fortnight ago.
The recipe works just as the carrot halwa, with slightly reduced quantities of sugar and ghee.
400 grams white pumpkin/ ash gourd / winter melon
250 grams / 300 ml sugar
200 grams / 200 ml milk
100 grams / 80 ml ghee
15 pieces cashew nuts
1 teaspoon cardamom powder
Few strands saffron dissolved in milk
Peel skin from the ash gourd. Remove the seeds and the very soft inner parts.
Grate the ash gourd in fine shreds.
The ash gourd will ooze juice as you grate the vegetable.
Once done, thoroughly squeeze the juice out. reserve this juice as we are about to use it in the process of cooking.
Now the almost dry grated ash gourd will weigh around 200 grams and will measure about 1/4 of an inch below the level of a 200 ml cup.
Meanwhile dissolve the saffron in few teaspoons of milk and keep aside.
Take a heavy bottom pan and mix the sugar with the extracted vegetable juice. Add some more water if required.
Pressure cook the grated ash gourd with the remaining milk until the vegetable is just about tender, the shreds still defined and the milk is well combined. This may take about two whistles or four minutes pressure cooking after the optimum pressure has been achieved.
Heat the dissolved sugar to achieve a syrup of one thread consistency.
Add the vegetable mix and cook, stirring at regular intervals.
The mixture will thicken and from this point add the ghee gradually in small quantities. Stir well.
Add the dissolved saffron and the cardamom powder towards the end of the process.
When the halwa has come together and thickened enough, continuous bubbles will arise around the edges and the ghee will coat the surface like a film.
Remove from the fire.
Warm few teaspoons of ghee and fry the cashews. Garnish the halwa with the cashews.
A delicious dessert is ready to serve.
You may choose not to use the juice and dissolve the sugar in water to form a syrup. The squeezed out juice can be used in other curries or soups.