Thursday, March 30, 2006

Celebrating Gudhi Padwa with Shreekhand

It is the Hindu New Year today - Gudhi Padwa for Maharashtrians. It is one of the three and a half big ‘Muhurta’s meaning very auspicious days. I know, 3 ½ is rather odd, but then that’s how it is. We choose these auspicious days for new beginnings, for closing important deals, for making big buys e.g. a house or a car. About ten days preceding this auspicious day and on that day itself, the local newspapers are choc-a-bloc with advertisements for housing loans, cars & easy-pay options for them, bikes (which are a necessity in India unlike in the western countries, where it’s more of a hobby), household appliances and clothes (read Saris, Saris and more Saris).

On the day of Gudhi Padwa, Gudhis are hoisted outside the house or in a window visible from outside. A Gudhi is made up of a stick with a decorative piece of cloth (preferably silk or cotton) fastened to it, a garland each made up of Neem leaves and sugar candy is hung on it and then topped with a Tambya (see here in the 6th row from top) parked head-over-heels. The Gudhi then looks like this.
In addition to this, a delicious meal with about 100 dishes (ok, I’m kidding…just take the last zero out) is cooked. In Pune, where I come from, it is also somewhat of a tradition to buy sweets or the raw material for it from Mitahi shops, a very big favourite being Chitale Bandhu Mithaiwale. Enthusiastic people literally stand in queues for hours together so that they can buy the yummylicious dessert which is to later become a part of the meal.

One such thing, which people love to buy there is Malai Chakka, which is the main ingredient to make Shreekhand. Of course, there are many households (like my parents’), which take pride in saying that they make it at home and never buy it outside. Both types of Chakka give good results although with slight difference in thickness and texture. Since I am away from home as well as Chitale’s, I decided to make Shreekhand with a German soft cheese called Quark. It is made similarly as Malai Chakka, but has a different texture. Read more about it here. I guess it should be available in the US in larger stores. I know for sure, that Tesco Extra outlets in the UK store Quark. If not available in your area, then hanging thick yoghurt like this (see the second from bottom row of pictures) till all whey drips out, should work too. Quark, too, needs draining sometimes, if too runny.



Recipe for Shreekhand

Serves 2 (happy, Shammi?)

Ingredients:

# 500 grams Quark (If using yoghurt, perhaps about 750 grams?)
# ½ heaped cup sugar
# 5 green cardamoms (about ½ tsp if using readymade cardamom powder)
# a pinch nutmeg powder (optional)
# a few saffron strands (the more, the better)

Method:

1. Heat a tbsp of milk (maybe in the microwave) and add a few saffron strands to it. Let them rest in the milk as they give out their colour gradually.
2. Peel the cardamoms and powder the seeds in a mixer with a tbsp of sugar. (Instead of throwing away the peels, you could use them to flavour your tea/chai.)
3. If using whole nutmeg, grate it.
4. Place the Quark in a bowl. (If using yoghurt, drain it and then place it in a bowl. Whisk it with a ladle to break lumps, if any.)
5. Add sugar, cardamom and nutmeg, if using.
6. Whisk the mixture with a ladle. Using the immersion blender here is not a great idea.
7. Add the milk with the saffron now. Mix them gently with the rest, making sure that the delicate strands do not break.
8. When serving, garnish it with some more saffron or some slivered unsalted pistachios or any nuts.

Voilà! Your Shreekhand is ready.



Now do you want to eat it with a spoon or like my father with the ‘Phawda paddhat’, which means using your fingers like a shovel and then gobbling dollops of Shreekhand as if there were no tomorrow? :)

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21 comments:

Lakshmi said...

happy gudi padava to u Vaishali

sailu said...

Wishing you and your family a happy Gudi Padwa,Vaishali!

shammi said...

Vaishali - was I surprised to see my name in your post or what :D Yes, I'm most definitely satisfied. Shreekhand is on my to-make menu now!

Meeta said...

Yes! Vaishali it really is great that you are in Germany. Finally someone who uses the same stuff one gets here. Everyone kept asking me "What is Quark?" on my blog The Daily Tiffin
as Soeren just loves this.

With you I can now make this great Shreekhand for him too. When I do I'll post it on What's For Lunch Honey? and get that verdict out to you!

Happy Gudi Padava to you!

Hugs
Meeta

Dhanashri said...

Hi Vaishali,

oh my..do i miss the chitale bandhu shrikhand and amrakhand :( ..hmm how i wish there was an outlet here in UK too!!
had no idea shrikhand could be made with quark..thanks!! will look for it when i visit Tesco next time :))

Happy Ugadi
Dhanashri

Vaishali said...

Thanks, Lakshmi and Sailu! Wish you the same.

Shammi, I am glad that you are satisfied. Technically, this amount of Quark will give more than two servings of Shreekhand, but my observation so far is that you tend to overeat it and then hardly anything is left for a third person.

Meeta, I know what you mean. As for me, I have decided that I'm going to incorporate as many German (vegetarian) foods as possible in my diet. What's the point in living here, otherwise?

Happy Ugadi to you as well, Dhanashri. Let me know once you use Quark.

Vineela said...

Hi Manisha,
HAPPY GUDIPADWA TO U AND UR FAMILY.
Article is informative.
Vineela

Vaishali said...

Thanks, Vineela. Btw, I am Vaishali. :)

Vineela said...

Hey Vaishali,
Sorry yaar by the way am having marati neighbour "manisha".So,it went wrong.thanks for ur correction dear.
vineela.

Vaishali said...

No problems, Vineela.

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot for the tip of using Quark for making shrikhand.. since I came to switzerland 4 months back, I was missing all the sweets back home. I recently found out about these foodie blogs and yours thru them. Since then trying out various recipes and when I came across this particular recipe I was really happy. On the first opportunity of visiting grocery shop, got Quark and made it shrikhand, puri, batata rassa and matar pulav.. And wow it was one satisfying meal.. Kharach trupticha dhekar ala.. HAPPY BURP :) .. even my 10 months old son tested shrikhand first time in his life :) thanks to you.

--
Jyoti

Vidya said...

yummmmmmm.... now you've done it! since i saw this post my mind's been on Pune's 'Chatale bandhu' and their awesome shrikhand! my grandmother and aunt always used to get me some from there 2-3 times a week each time i visited pune.. like i said... yummmmm... now if only they'd open a branch in the backwoods of Japan :)
any idea if 'bakarwadi' is do-able at home without too much fuss???

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Dhanashri K said...

just came across ur gudhi padwa blog! u write amazingly well! i am in US & I really miss all these festivals here. all the gudhis & the delicious food just flashed into my mind when i read ur blog. thanks a tonne for that! & happy gudhi padwa (2007) to u!

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