Monday, February 11, 2008

Lapping up the Lapsi

Most weekday dinners are poli (or phulkas), a bhaaji (vegetables) and a simple daal.
There are times (a particularly hectic day, an aced test, or just a very good day) one craves a sweet something to go along. On such days, a welcome addition to the meal is a bowl of kheer or sheera (suji halwa).
Child development experts frown on using food as rewards etc., but sometimes a bowl of warm kheer does so much more for the soul than the body; especially if fat free milk and conservative amounts of sugar are used! So I don't mind; we are like that only.

The kheer of choice is ravyachi kheer (suji, cream of wheat) but I'm always on the lookout for alternatives.
Making the lapsi from Tarla Dalal's The Complete Gujarati Cookbook
has been on my to-make list ever since I bought this book last year.
It seemed too rich (6 tbsps of ghee) and too sweet (1 cup of sugar) for my tastes. Using greatly reduced quantities of these ingredients, I went ahead and made the lapsi anyway.
We loved it! But then I already knew I was going to like it.
What ever little was left over tasted even better the next day. The nutiness of the cracked wheat, made better by roasting it in ghee is totally delicious.

So here is a low-fat version of the Fada Lapsi:

1 cup cracked wheat (dalia)
1 cup sugar (I used 1/3 cup and it was sweet enough for us)
6 tbsp ghee (I used 2 tbsp)
3 cups hot water (see Notes below)
a pinch of powdered elaichi
10-15 almonds, coarsely crushed (optional)

Over medium-low heat, roast the dalia in the melted ghee.
Slowly add the water to the dalia.
Add the sugar and elaichi and mix well.
Cook this mixture stirring often and breaking any lumps that form.
Let this mixture cook for about 8-10 minutes or till you see ghee on the sides of the pan. If you use less ghee, it won't be visible right away. In that case cook till the wheat is cooked.
Add the nuts, if using.

Lapsi is made with either milk or water. This time I used just water, but next time I'll definitely be using milk. Since I've greatly reduced the quantity of ghee, milk (even fat-free) will add some richness.

This lapsi is my entry to RCI:Gujarat, hosted by Mythili. Regional Cuisines of India (RCI) is a brainchild of Lakshmi.

Quinoa Kheer

Though we like the savoury Desi version of quinoa, quinoa kheer is good too.
To make this kheer, wash cooked quinoa in several changes of water to remove much of the bitter taste. In savoury dishes this bitterness is welcome; not so much in sweets.
Add milk, sugar, a pinch of elaichi, and a strand (or two) of keshar and cook for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat.
The quantity of milk and sugar depends on how thick you like your kheer and the preferred sweetness levels, respectively.
I've also made a vegan version of this kheer using soymilk. My cousin, who is a vegan, loved it...I'll take his word for it.
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