Sweet tooth, dessert-a-holic whatever you may call sweet lovers, they will not shy away from a bowl of sweetness or from any confectionery for that matter. Except for a few who try as you may, will not touch them. You don’t believe me, do you? It is true, it is true. No, not those who are medically inclined to decline, not those who want to shed those extra pounds…I’m talking about people, kids and adults alike who refuse sweets.
I love to indulge in a bite or bowl of something sinfully sweet and rich after a meal. In stark contrast though, I find my 6-year-old refusing to touch sweets! Good for him, sure, but how can this be so?
So I try, try and try to get him to eat at least some by creating the same desserts my mom does but with infinitesimally small amounts of sugar and loading everything with his beloved nuts. Oh yes, that there is progress is evident! These days, we do reach out to small amounts of Sheera made with broken wheat or semolina, a spoon of kheer made with fine Vermicelli noodles, and half a spoon now and then of Gajar Halva made with carrots. Victory comes in small doses!
As for us, it takes a while for a palate to adjust to just a hint of sweetness as opposed to an onslaught of sweet, but I do think all of this is for the best, as it has helped us all curtail our super sweet cravings to a great extent as well!
Here I share the same three desserts I mentioned above and with the regular amount of sugar added, but as experimenting at my home has proven, reduce the quantity of sugar over time and you will be as satiated as before.
Gajar Halva — a sensational dessert made with winter carrots
Freshly grated carrots: 4-5 cups (approximately 10 long carrots)
Whole, fat free, low fat, or evaporated milk: 1 cup
Sweetened Condensed Milk: 1 14 oz. can (optional)
Sugar, only if not using sweetened condensed milk: 3/4 cup
Clarified butter, ghee, or organic butter: 1 tablespoon (entirely optional)
A heavy bottom deep pan or a pressure cooker
Sliced/finely chopped almonds, cashews and/or pistachios (optional) to garnish
Freshly ground green cardamom pods: 1 tsp. (about 5-8 pods)
When using a pan: Allow the pan to warm up on slow heat. Add the ghee/butter. Do not allow the ghee or butter to burn or smoke. Swirl it around the pan. This step can be omitted when no fat is being used. Add grated carrots to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes until carrot shreds are coated with ghee/butter. Omit when not using the fat.
Now add milk, condensed milk or sugar. Stir until mixed. Continue to let this boil at medium heat until the carrots are cooked and all the milk is absorbed. Garnish with nuts and cardamom.
When using a pressure pan/cooker: Allow the pressure cooker to warm up on slow heat. Add the ghee/butter. Do not allow the ghee or butter to burn/smoke. Swirl it around the pan. This step can be omitted when no fat is being used. Add grated carrots to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes until carrot shreds are coated with ghee/butter. Omit when not using the fat.
Now add milk, condensed milk or sugar. Stir until mixed. Allow to boil on medium heat. Close the pressure cooker with its lid and the weight on. Keeping the heat at medium, allow the weight to give off steam on its own once. Turn off heat. Remove the lid when the cooker will allow you to. If milk liquids persist, continue to stir on medium heat until all of the liquids are absorbed while not scorching the carrots. Garnish with nuts and cardamom.
Enjoy a warm bowl of delicious halva in the winter or a bowl at room temperature if it is warm outside with or without a dollop of pistachio or vanilla ice cream!
Sheera — A semolina dessert
Fine semolina/rawa (coarsely ground wheat): 1 cup
Hot water: 1 cup
Hot milk: 1 cup
Sugar: 3/4 cup
Ghee (clarified butter): 1 tablespoon
Coffee spice: 1/4 tsp. Could use 1/4 tsp ground green cardamom or ground nutmeg alone instead.
Raisins : 2 tsp. (optional)
Saffron: 4-5 threads crushed and soaked in warm water for 1-2 min.
Sliced almonds and pistachios to garnish
Warm a heavy bottom pan and add ghee. Allow the ghee to heat through without reaching its smoking point, on low heat. Add the raisins quickly followed by semolina and roast in the ghee until slightly pink and fragrant. Watch this stage continuously, as the semolina can brown very easily.
Add water and milk and saffron with the water it was soaked in and stir it in with the semolina until you see no lumps. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and allow the liquids to get absorbed completely, about 5-7 minutes on very low heat. Now add the sugar, mix thoroughly, cover and allow to steam through for another 10 minutes on very low heat with the lid on.
Garnish with nuts and sprinkle spices on the prepared dish. Take a whiff….how does this dish make you feel?
Servings are enough for 2-3 people.
Shevayachi Kheer — Vermicelli in spiced milk
Vermicelli noodles: 1 cup, roughly crushed
Whole, evaporated, skim or low fat milk: 3 cups
Almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, raisins and any other dried fruit you would like: 2 tablespoons altogether (optional)
Nutmeg Coffee spice: 1/2 tsp. or 1/2 tsp. of ground green cardamom or ground nutmeg
Ghee (clarified butter) or butter: 2 tsp.
Sugar to taste, about 4 tablespoons, more or less as preferred
Warm a heavy-bottom pan and add the ghee. If adding butter, allow it to melt on low heat without browning. Add crushed vermicelli and roast until lightly golden and completely coated by the ghee (2-3 min). Add the milk and stir as it comes to a boil. Add the nuts, spice blend and dried fruit and allow this to simmer until the vermicelli and the dried fruit become soft and meld into the milk. Eat while warm or chill!
Note: Vermicelli cooks real fast and absorbs a lot of milk… if boiled excessively it will thicken to a porridge consistency. If this happens and if you prefer the liquid consistency, add more milk to simmer to heat through.