Finally, it is festival time in India! With the Ganpati festival or the Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations just about to begin, Indian sweet vendors and homemakers have geared up once again with different kinds of festive sweets, among other delicacies! Starting from Ganesh Puja or Ganpati festival on Monday, which is celebrated in Maharashtra with great pomp and gaiety, Indian festivals will continue one after another. As soon as the Ganesh Puja gets over, huge celebrations of the Navratras and Durga Puja will start, offering prayers to the divine Goddess, who is addressed universally as Mata or Ma. This festival is followed by the mega festival called Diwali, the festival of lights!
Whenever there is any festival in India, sweets are distributed and relished by everyone. There are so many traditional regional festive sweet recipes in India that it is a bit challenging to even taste or remember the names of all of them! For example, this traditional and gluten-free Indian sweet called Bhapa Doi is very popular with Bengalis (like me, who hail from West Bengal) and more so because it is a no-fuss and easy Bengali sweet, which doesn’t require any fancy ingredient or culinary skill as such. As this dessert is actually sweetened steamed yogurt, it is not oily at all.
In India, curd and yogurt are one and the same. Please note that we don’t generally refer to the coagulated milk as curd, but we call it as paneer or cottage cheese. Please choose unsweetened, good-quality yogurt for this recipe. If you are looking for an easy Indian dessert to try at your home, then try this recipe. This steamed yogurt traditionally has dry fruits like toasted cashewnuts, pistachios and raisins studded in, but if you want to give it a modern twist, try one of these in place of dry fruits:
- Chocolate chips
- Pandan extract
- Toasted coconut slivers
- Fruit pulp or chunks
- Instant coffee
If you are wondering about how “hung curd” can be made at home, the picture given below would help you out. Basically, you have to pour the whole curd or yogurt (unsweetened) into a muslin cloth and tie it up with a rubber band first. This cloth has to be further tied to something like a hook or a handle of your kitchen cupboard. A bowl (not shown in the picture) has to be kept under this tied cloth, to collect the unwanted water or liquid dripping from the curd. At the end of four hours, lightly squeeze the tied muslin so that the residual liquid falls off. Untie the cloth and take out the soft, solid curd. You get homemade hung curd like this!
[Please note that Bhapa Doi tastes totally different from another popular Bengali dessert called Mishti Doi. Traditionally, this gluten-free Bengali dessert, Bhapa Doi, is steamed in a closed container inside a pressure cooker filled with little water. I used the oven method instead, where I baked the Bhapa Doi in ramekins for 20 min at 140⁰C. Serves three.]
Unsweetened yogurt or dahi (I used Amul brand): 200 g
Condensed milk: ¼ tin
Crushed, toasted almonds (or cashewnuts): 12
Pistachios or almonds to garnish
Make hung curd first. This is done by hanging the curd by tying it for around four hours, so that almost all the water is drained out. At the end of four hours, gently press the cloth from outside so that the residual water is also gone. When you open the cloth, the curd should have the thickness like the one shown below.
Add the condensed milk and mix lightly by hand. In a mixer, pulse until the mixture resembles a smooth a paste. Add the toasted almonds and raisins. Pulse for a few seconds.
Pour the mixture into three ramekins. Bake uncovered in the middle rack for 20 min at 140⁰C, ensuring that the top doesn’t get brown. Let it cool at room temperature (or refrigerate to make it colder) and if you like, serve with unsalted pistachios or almonds sprinkled over the top.
Bhapa Doi: Festive Indian Recipe #1
- Unsweetened yogurt or dahi I used Amul brand: 200 g
- Condensed milk: ¼ tin
- Crushed toasted almonds (or cashewnuts): 12
- Raisins: 8
- Pistachios or almonds to garnish
- Make hung curd first. This is done by hanging the curd by tying it for around four hours, so that almost all the water is drained out. At the end of four hours, gently press the cloth from outside so that the residual water is also gone.
- When you open the cloth, the curd should feel solid and dense.
- Add the condensed milk and mix lightly by hand. In a mixer, pulse until the mixture resembles a smooth a paste. Add the toasted almonds and raisins. Pulse for a few seconds.
- Pour the mixture into three ramekins. Bake uncovered in the middle rack for 20 min at 140?C, ensuring that the top doesn't get brown. Let it cool at room temperature (or refrigerate to make it colder) and if you like, serve with unsalted, pistachios or almonds sprinkled over the top.
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