It is my father's birthday today. Just the way it has more or less become a tradition at my parents' place to make Puranpoli for my birthday, it always used to be kinda predecided that it would be Sakharbhaat for my father's. That was until his high blood sugar levels were detected. Even now, it is us, his family, who are not in favour of this tradition any longer. He would still be happy to find this dessert on his plate. Because he strongly believes that Diabetes is a curable disease, and that his is nearly cured. :) Well, who said that only children can give their parents a tough time? The opposite is equally possible. That is the reason why I have made this dish only as a virtual treat for him. (Technology is not all that bad after all, is it?) I hope he enjoys it. And so do you, when you make it.
A little about this Maharashtrian/Goan dessert: Sakhar=sugar & bhaat=rice. This sweet rice has a wonderful aroma of cloves and cardamom. Traditionally, desserts are always served with the meal itself in Maharashtra (and in many of the Indian cuisines that I know.) So is this one. It is rarely seen at big ceremonies like weddings, at least in the urban parts of Maharashtra. It is a pucca home dessert. And this is how it is made.
Recipe for Sakharbhaat
1 cup Basmati rice
1 tsp lime juice
1 tbsp ghee
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup sugar
a little less than ½ cup water (for the sugar syrup)
3-4 cardamom pods
1 tbsp sugar (for clove-cardamom powder)
8-10 cashewnuts, halved
saffron strands, the more the better
1. Grind the cloves and cardamom with sugar. You could also pound them with a pestle and mortar.
2. Cook the rice with lime juice, ghee and salt in just enough quantity of water, because we want every rice grain to be separate. (If cooking it in the microwave, add only 2 cups of water for 1 cup rice.)
3. Once cooked, spread it on a wide plate/tray with gentle hands, making sure that the rice grains do not break. I often use a fork for this. Let the rice cool down.
4. In the meanwhile, mix the sugar and water and put it to cook. Boil it until you get thick sugar syrup. It is thick enough, if a drop of it, when put on a metal plate, does not run but stays firm. We call this 'golibund paak' in Marathi.
5. Add the saffron strands to the syrup. Add the cooled rice too and cover the pan. Steam-cook the rice for a couple of minutes.
Rice cooking in the sugar syrup
6. Open the lid, stir the rice and steam-cook it for another couple of minutes.
7. Add the powdered/pounded cloves & cardamom and the cashewnuts. Mix them all well with the rice. Cook it uncovered on low heat until all the water has evaporated.
Serve it preferably warm or at room temperature. Sakharbhaat is not really enjoyable, if served cold. It tastes even better the following day. I often take advantage of that, and make it on the previous day, when I am entertaining. That helps me gain more time on the day of the lunch/dinner to prepare other dishes.
Although the procedure looks lengthy, it is one of the easiest desserts to prepare, in my opinion. If you make it once, it is child's play the second time around.
Tags: rice , Maharashtrian , Indian dessert , 101 Indian sweets