Monday, April 4, 2011

Starting The New Year On A Sweet Note

Gudhi Padwa wishes to all! Today's the first day of the Marathi calendar month Chaitra - the beginning of a new year. Gudhi Padwa is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Maharashtra by hoisting Gudhis in the front yard early in the morning. The Gudhi (aka Brahma-Dhwaja = Brahma's flag) symbolizes Brahma's (the creator) flag as it's believed that he created the universe on this day. Colorful Gudhi is made of a piece of cloth with beautiful brocade work, neem and mango leaves, flower (usually marigold) garland and a garland made out of sugar discs called Battasa.

The traditional menu for Gudhi Padwa includes Shrikhand (a creamy sweet made from yogurt) and puri (fried whole wheat bread). Following the tradition, I made some Shrikhand today :). This is my grandma's specialty and I follow her recipe strictly. She had a small business of making Shrikhand and it was quite a hit! Making Shrikhand just takes a little bit of planning; other than that, it's a very simple recipe to follow. 

Straining yogurt by hanging
Wrapped the yogurt containing cloth in a towel and kept a heavy weight pan & lentil box

Removing lumps in the Chakka by straining through a metal strainer 


Garnished with saffron and pistachios
Gudhi in my house :)

2 lbs Whole Milk yogurt
2-3 Pinches of Nutmeg
Cardamom powder from 2-3 cardamom pods
4-5 Saffron strands
Pistachio/Charoli for garnishing - you can also use almonds
1 Tbsp Milk
  • The first step to making Shrikhand is making Chakka (thick creamy yogurt resulting from straining the yogurt in a cloth). You want to get as much water content out of the yogurt as possible. This is the most crucial step in making thick, rich and creamy shrikhand that will stay in the fridge for upto 2 weeks! 
  • Take a muslin/cotton cloth and pour the yogurt in it. Tie the cloth tight and hang it over the sink, or any place where you can let the water drain, overnight. I kept a bowl under to collect water. The weight of yogurt and gravity work together to strain water from the yogurt. 
  • To make sure you have most of the water content out, wrap the muslin cloth containing yogurt in a big towel or in newspapers and keep some weight over it for an hour or so. The towel/paper will absorb any remaining water from the yogurt. What remains is thick Chakka which doesn't stick to the cloth. 
  • To get any lumps out, use a metal strainer and press Chakka through it. The Chakka becomes velvety smooth in this process. You can also use food mill or porous cheese cloth to strain chakka. Try avoiding a hand mixer as it will make the shrikhand too thin. 
  • Add sugar to the Chakka. For 1 part Chakka, use 0.9 parts sugar (1: .9 ratio - you will end up with ~1.9 parts shrikhand). You can eyeball this proportion. My grandma has tried different amounts of sugar and this gives the perfect slightly sour and just enough sweet taste! 
  • Add a hint of nutmeg and cardamom powder. The fragrance of nutmeg should not be ovewhelming.
  • Mix the saffron in a little bit of milk to get the color out. Add this to the shrikhand and mix well. 
  • Whisk everything together until the sugar is completely dissolved. 
  • Garnish with some pistachios, charoli or almonds. 
This will make decent sized servings for 2. By making the Chakka as thick as possible, you increase its 'fridge life'. You can store it in the fridge for upto 2 weeks. Any time you want some, take it out, add a little bit of milk for moisture and make it the consistency you like. This recipe is tried and tested and tasted by many and is simply Creamilicious! 

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