Kesar Penda (Peda)
Penda or Peda as you call are the most scrumptious pieces of dessert made with milk khoya or mawa, sugar, cardamom, ghee, pistachios and saffron. Originated from the birth place Lord Krishna's city MATHURA in UTTAR PRADESH (INDIA) they are also one of the many desserts offered to lord Krishna as prasad in the temples and home worldwide. In fact, the famous MATHURA PEDA are a very popular sweet (dessert) in INDIA which are made by roasted mawa and sugar along with above mentioned ingredients.
Now a days they come in several different flavors unlike before where they were just made plain without saffron or with saffron which becomes yellow in color due to saffron. The version I made is my favorite which is infused with KESAR (SAFFRON). In GUJARAT (INDIA) from where I belong these are very popular and these KESAR PEDAS are called as KESAR PENDA and they are very common to use as offerings to god in the form of prasad and several other happy occasions. Like if baby is born in someone's home or someone got a new vehicle, even when the kids passed their special exams with great results in school everyone would say 'PENDA KHAVDAVO' meaning 'FEED US PEDAS' as a symbol of sharing happiness.
These KESAR PENDAS I made for the festival of RAKSHABANDHAN this year are the quickest most easiest recipe to make for your special days and festivals. Now traditionally these are made with milk khoya or mawa but the only thing is they wont last long if you want make ahead and keep them on room temperature. But the recipe I made will easily last you 3-4 days at room temp and up to 7-10 days if you keep it in the fridge as I used a little different ingredients but yet kept the authentic taste.
So now that you are wondering what I used for making these PEDAS, then let me tell you that I used the RICOTTA CHEESE and MILK POWDER along with SAFFRON (KESAR), cardamom powder, ghee & sugar. The reason to use ricotta cheese is it gives it a more creamier taste and smooth texture and its quick to use than making mawa from boiling the milk for hours. I also used milk powder so that they will help keep the PEDAS bind well and will help shape them better. Alright now that I have said everything about this recipe its time to make them and relish it, so here is the list of the ingredients and step by step to the process.
PREP TIME: 1 HOUR COOK TIME: 45 MINS SERVES: Makes 25-30 Pedas
2.5 Cups Milk Powder (i used joy brand from my Indian store)
1 15 oz Can Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese (any brand is fine)
4-5 Tablespoons Ghee (try and use store bought ghee for this)
1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom powder
3-4 Tablespoons Milk
1 Teaspoon Saffron Strands (add more if you want dark yellow color for your pedas)
Pistachio Slivers and rose petals for garnish
STEP 1:Warm the Milk in the microwave for about a minute and then soak in the saffron strands for up to 30-45 Mins. Also soak in about 2-3 Tablespoons of pistachios in warm water for about 30 mins then completely dry them and take off the brown parts that will come out. Make sure you are using the pistachio seeds not the whole ones along with the shell.
Once the brown coverings are removed then you'll have nice and green pistachios just slice them super fine length wise and you will have your slivers. You can also use the ready made ones available in the market.
STEP 2: After the saffron is soaked take a non-stick pan and add the ghee into it. Let it warm up on medium flame and then add in your ricotta cheese and carefully break all the lumps till it turns into thick liquid texture. Now cook the ricotta cheese on a medium low flame till all the water from the cheese evaporates and the ricotta cheese becomes nice and thick.
STEP 3: Add in your sugar now and mix well. Now add in your milk powder, cardamom powder and saffron soaked in milk all together at once and just mix everything till everything is nicely incorporated together and the color of the mixtures turns nice and light yellow.
MAKE SURE TO CONTINOUSLY KEEP STIRRING TO AVOID STICKING IT TO BOTTOM AND GETTING BURNT.
STEP 4: Now let the mixture cool down till you can touch it with your hands and then grease your hands with melted ghee and then take the mixture less than a golf ball size and then begin rolling in your hands and make it round. Now just gently press it and give it a shape like a small round cookie and then garnish with pistachio slivers.
Repeat the process till all the mixture is used up. You can use a cookie tray and line it with parchment paper and then place all the pedas on it to avoid sticking till they are completely at room temp. Then you can choose to store it in an airtight container and leave it out or keep it in the fridge. Leaving them out will keep them moist but if you are making it for an event or festival I would recommend storing them in fridge and then just take them out an hour before you want to eat or serve. Enjoy and Bon Appetit !!!
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