If only I were as good a planner as I am a dreamer, I’d have made a Valentine’s day themed post. I’ d have the menu for the entire month printed in a calendar format and pinned to my pin-up board. I’d have gone through my son’s Pre-KG syllabus at the beginning of the term rather than now, 2 weeks before his evaluations.
I: Yuvi, young one of hen?
I: No Yuvi, Kozhi is hen. Young one of hen is chick. Young one of cat is kitten. Young one of dog? Hasini, don’t answer.
I: No Yuvi, young one of dog is puppy
Yuvi: Yellathayum kitten sollalama? (Can we call all the young ones kitten? Please?)
I crack up. He prances around thinking he has passed the test, thinking his lessons are over for the day.
I put away the books after one last round of rhymes he recites as he somersaults across the bed. Hasini joins along in the rhyme instead of writing her English essay. The Pizza arrives. We pack up for the day. I decide to be rational and steady and composed and think we can make it if we do little every day.
I plan a rich heart shaped chocolate pudding cake for Valentine’s day because I couldn’t make it for the last wedding anniversary or the last valentine’s day. I am out of chocolate. I think I may buy it the day before and just bake this pudding cake off last minute. Without too much fuss, too much pre-planning and worrying. Just do it type. But I happened to not do it.
Of late I’ve been leaning away from cake, towards non-fussy luscious halwas and kheers you can just scoop into a bowl, top with some crunchy nuts and call them dessert. And no less sensational. One mouthful of this papaya halwa makes me close my eyes and moan in pleasure. Note that the papaya is the surprise element. But the halwa tastes nothing like papaya. You may do away with the apples and make just a papaya halwa by subbing the apples with papaya. Not the other way around. Papaya haters will love this halwa too. It is an open challenge.
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 35 mins
Papaya – 1 medium sized, peeled, seeded and diced fine
Apples – 3 peeled, cored and grated
Condensed milk – 1 tin (400 grams)
Granulated sugar – 5 tbsp (adjust as per taste)
Butter/Ghee – 4 tbsp + 2 tbsp
Fine vermicelli – 3 tbsp (broken into small pieces) for garnish
Orange food colouring – a tiny pinch (optional)
Cashews – 5 broken into small pieces for garnish
1. Peel papaya, remove the seeds and dice finely. Peel and core apples and grate.
2. Heat a thick bottomed pan and tip in 4 tbsp butter or ghee into the pan.
3. When the butter is melted, tip the diced papaya and grated apple into the pan. Fry for 5 minutes using a spatula to toss around the papaya and apples.
4. Pour in the condensed milk and mix well. Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or till the mixture is thick, the papaya and apples are soft and cooked through. You’ll have to open and stir around the mixture from time to time to avoid the halwa from sticking to the bottom. Use a masher to mash any big chunks of papaya down to smaller bits for a more homogenous consistency.
5. Give a taste and add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time tasting after each addition. I needed to add about 5 tablespoons of sugar. Add the food colour and mix well. When the halwa is thick, switch off. Let cool. Chill for 4 hours or overnight.
6. Break fine vermicelli into small bits. Place cashews on a kitchen tissue, fold over and use a rolling pin to roll over the cashews to break them into smaller bits. Set aside.
7. Heat 2 tbsp butter/ghee in a small pan. When melted and hot, add the broken cashews and fine broken vermicelli and fry on low heat till golden and crisp.
8. To serve, scoop a generous helping of the papaya apple halwa into a bowl and top with a teaspoon of the fried vermicelli and cashews. Serve.