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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Moong Dal Halwa & Dhanteras

Moong Dal Halwa & Dhanteras


As I joyously waved the Bed, Bath & Beyond coupon that was missing for the last 2 weeks and declared that I am going to get myself a bundt pan the next day, the husband commented - "..for Dhanteras?"
Now we are not the kind who keeps track of these things. Sensing my surprise, he explained. Apparently his inbox is flooded with Dhanteras special deals from all the Indian sites he subscribes (willingly or unwillingly) to.

Staying in a cosmopolitan city has its advantages. Traditions and festivals of people from different parts of India settled in Kolkata slowly seeped into our indigenous culture. My Ma got caught in this tradition some 20 odd years back years back when we moved to a new apartment building which was home to not just Bengalis. Each year she would buy a little something - a gold trinket, a silver holy basil leaf, silver toe ring, utensils for the kitchen.
 
For the last 5 years, each year my Ma reminds me about Dhanteras couple of days in advance. And each year I buy a little something too.  A spoon, a microplane,  - just using this as an excuse to spend a little (more)! But this year, my parents are still settling back down in Kolkata after their 3.5 mos stay with us and Ma forgot to remind me! She told me today when I called her that a neighbor (also not a Bengali) told her that if she is not buying gold or silver, she should buy something made with clay - so Baba bought some clay diyas. My parents will use those along with some tealight candles in lieu of Choddo Prodeep (Fourteen diyas/lamps) to pay their homage to their Choddo Purush (14 ancestors).

We try to introduce a little of the traditions we have grown up with to the 6 yo. This year the lights are already up - they will double as both Diwali and Christmas lights. We will keep them on for couple of hours a day till the end of the year. We try not go overboard with the lights - our way of participating in the festival of lights without feeling guilty about the misuse of energy.

Tomorrow the 6 yo and I will light 14 tealight candles and say 'hello' to our ancestors who are now stars in the sky!
 
So.. coming back to today, I picked up the Bundt pan - it was on my list for a long time!  And I made some Moong Dal Halwa  to take to a Diwali dinner invitation on Wednesday. Here's hoping that I will put the Bundt pan to good use soon!

Moong Dal Halwa & Dhanteras
 
Ingredients: (Serves 8-10)
  • Moong Dal - 1.5 Cups
  • Ghee - 3/4 Cup
  • Milk - 1  1/2 Cup 
  • Water - 1 1/2 Cups
  • Sugar - 1 1/2 Cups (use more or less based on your taste)
  • Cardamom Powder - 1 tsp
  • Saffron - Few strands
  • Almonds slivers -  a handful + some for garnishing (or you can add chopped almonds, pistachios and/or raisins)
 
Soak the moong daal in enough water for at least 3 hours. Rinse well and drain all the water. In a blender, make a paste with about 1/3 cup of water.
 
Heat the ghee in a pan (preferably non-stick) and add the Moong Daal paste to it. Do not skimp on the amount of ghee. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes on medium heat, stirring, scraping and breaking down the lumps as you go along. Once the raw smell is gone and the fat starts separating, the moong daal is ready for the milk concoction.

While the moong daal paste is cooking down, heat the milk, water and sugar in a separate pan till it comes to a boil. Lower the heat and add the cardamom powder and saffron strands. Let the mix simmer till it is time to pour into the moong daal mixture. Once you have added the milk-water-sugar-spices concoction to the dal mix (which is almost pale yellow at this point of time), cook it down till all the liquid gets absorbed and the fat separates again. Fold in your choice of additions and take it off the heat. Serve warm or at room temperature (but preferably warm). Store leftovers in a airtight container and stick it in the fridge.

 

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