It’s pleasantly cool and drizzly in Chennai in the midst of a sweltering May. The last few days have been humid hell, we were sweating in buckets. But the rains are right on cue. Only yesterday I thought I was late with my summer vathal making and that I’d better start soon and this morning it rained. I am well known for my luck with these things. The trees wear that nice fresh, green look after the showers and I just want to sit and gaze at them. I am in no mood for work of any kind. Not that I’ve done a lot lately. Jagan is on a business trip and I am lazing it at my mother’s place. I am spending a lot of time with the kids. Yuvi makes good conversation these days. He talked me to sleep yesterday.
This is my 200th post by the way. I am very slow by general food blogger standards. It has taken me nearly 1 and half years to reach this milestone while many active bloggers cross double the number of posts in half this time. I’ve decided to take it slow too. I think that’ll be my style. Slow blogging. It suits me. Kasi Halwa fits the occasion. It is my most favourite Halwa (even over carrot halwa and beetroot halwa. Tirunelveli Halwa comes a close second) in the world. We had Kasi Halwa as part of my wedding breakfast menu. Kasi Halwa is made from Ash gourd (locally called Vellai poosinikkai or Kalyana poosinikkai – white pumpkin). The procedure is usual – grate, squeeze out the juices, sauté in ghee, cook in milk, add sugar and ghee and cook to a Halwa – simple. But the taste is unbelievable. The Halwa is nothing like what it’s made of (try drinking Ash Gourd juice if you don’t believe me).
Here is the Kasi Halwa recipe for you. If you’ve never tried it before, just believe me on this one and try it. If you’re a sweet lover like me, you’ll send me a money order. It is that great. I made this as part of my TamilNadu meal last week.
Ash Gourd/Vellai poosinikkai/White pumpkin – ½ kilo Ghee – 6 tbsp Sugar – ¾ cup Milk – 1-1/2 cups Yellow food colour – a pinch Cardamom powder – a pinch (optional, I skipped) Fried Cashews – 10 (for garnish)
1.Peel the ash gourd. Remove seeds. Grate the gourd and dump it in a cotton towel placed over a large bowl. Bring together the edges of the towel and squeeze the grated ash gourd inside to extract as much of the juice as possible. You can try drinking this juice (it’s very healthy) or you can discard it.
2.Heat a heavy bottomed wok or pan. Add about 2 tbsp of ghee. Throw in the grated and squeezed ash gourd to the pan and sauté till they’re dry. You’ll know they’re dry when they start sticking to the pan.
3.Pour in the milk, cover and simmer till the grated ash gourd is cooked and soft. Uncover and cook till the milk is absorbed. Add sugar ¼ cup at a time, mix well, taste and add further if necessary. When sugar is added, the halwa turns liquidy but once the sugar dissolves and gets incorporated, it turns thicker again.
4.Add food colour in very small increments and mix very well for the colour to be incorporated. You’ll need a small pinch maximum. Add the remaining ghee and cardamom powder if using and mix well. When the Halwa leaves the sides of the pan and when ghee oozes out from the sides, the Halwa is done. Switch off. Garnish with fried cashews. Serve warm or at room temperature.