Jazzing up an old Maharashtrian Classic dessert!!!

Kharvas

If you are a Maharashtrian, kharvas surely has to be on your favourite dessert list. Kharvas or the colostrum pudding is a very simple yet deliciously healthy dessert. It is made from bovine colostrum or cheek as it is called in Marathi. Cheek is the first form of milk obtained from cows immediately after the birth of the calf. The health benefits of bovine colostrum are quite known and one of the major advantages is that it is good for the immune system.

Kharvas is a kind of pudding or flan. Most puddings require a thickening or a solidifying agent like cornflour or eggs or gelatine etc. What makes Kharvas unique is that it has an inherent coagulant that helps it to set. So there are only 3-4 ingredients that are required to make a good Kharwas. Depending on the strength of the cheek or the colostrum milk you need to dilute it with regular milk, either cows or buffalos,  to set it the desired softness. The strength of the colostrum milk depends on the day on which it is extracted after the birth of the calf. The strength goes on decreasing as the number of days increases. Hence you need to do a test batch before you put the whole pudding for steaming.  You can add sugar or jaggery for sweetness. But personally, I prefer jaggery. You can flavour this with saffron or cardamom or both. 

Kharvas is traditionally made by  steaming the above mixture in a steamer. Here is where I add the twist by baking it in an oven in a water bath.  I prefer that as the kharvas sets to a very creamy and delicate consistency because of the temperature controlled baking environment. Also depending on the oven size and your requirement you can bake it in a large tray. So here is the recipe to do that :

Ingredients

  1. Cheek or bovine colostrum milk  – 500 ml
  2. Regular cow’s or buffalo milk – as per the strength of the cheek(do a test batch)
  3. Jaggery to taste
  4. Saffron as per liking

Procedure

  1. Mix the first three ingredients and stir to dissolve the jaggery completely. I use organic jaggery powder. If you are using moulded jaggery, you need to chop so that it dissolves completely.
  2. If you have saffron strands, heat an empty  small steel bowl. It shouldn’t be too hot. Turn off the heat and add saffron strands.Keep stirring so that they don’t burn. Crush the strands with a pestle into powder and add 2 tbsp of hot milk. If you have saffron powder you can straight away add the hot milk.
  3. Add the saffron milk to the above mixture. Mix well and pour into the baking tray.
  4. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Take a large baking tray and keep the tray with the above mixture inside it. Add hot water in the outside tray upto the level of the mixture in the inner baking tray. Bake for 45-60 min or till done at 160 degrees in the water bath. It should have a slight jiggle to it. 
  5. Remove from oven when done. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate. Cut it into square pieces and serve cold.

As you can see, the procedure is pretty simple and the ingredients very limited, but the result is outstanding. There is only one intricacy and that is to figure out how much normal milk to add for the colostrum milk. Usually the shop or the dairy from where you buy the milk will suggest you the amount. You can then fine tune it by baking a very small batch. Now a days colostrum milk powder is also easily available and the packet instructions will tell you how much milk is to be added. 

Known by a variety of names across the country like junnu in Telugu, seema paal in Tamil, ginnu haalu in Kannada, bari in Gujarati, Kharvas is definitely my family favourite and I love it because I can please my family with minimalistic effort!

Power of Garnish – Oven-dried Orange Slices

Garnish is such an important part of any food dish be it a salad, side, main course or dessert. Garnish is an edible embellishment used to bring out the beauty of a food item, savoury or sweet.  How much ever would one say that it is the taste that ultimately matters, magic really happens when we use the entire spectrum of our senses and sight is one of the important ones. You can see that a lot of times this garnish is the difference that takes the dish from routine to five star category. Such is the power of garnish!

Continue reading “Power of Garnish – Oven-dried Orange Slices”

The proof of the pudding …

“Good, old-fashioned ways keep hearts sweet, heads sane and hands  busy”, said Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women. And I have found so much deeper meaning and truth in this while the whole world has been in lockdown due to the Covid 19 epidemic. I have been going back to so many old recipes and cooking or baking them not only because I consider working in the kitchen therapeutic, but also because these dishes have been our comfort food in these taxing and high tension times.

One such recipe is the good old bread and butter pudding which never fails to satisfy the sweet cravings. Continue reading “The proof of the pudding …”