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A peda is a very delicious and traditional Indian dessert popular throughout the country. They are basically soft round flattened patties of sweet yummy goodness that can be made in a variety of flavors and textures. Pedas are always made on holidays, festivals and special occasions – in fact, it wouldn’t be much of celebration if the pedas were missing! This wonderful dessert is actually quite difficult to describe since there is nothing similar to it in the American/European dessert repertoire. I think the closest example would be a “milk fudge” if that makes any sense at all. You will just have to trust me, but I am sure your family and friends will enjoy it!
In Maharashtra, pedas are always given to friends and families when a big announcement is made such as a graduation with high distinction, an engagement or a new baby along the way. So good news & pedas always go hand-in-hand.
Now traditionally, making pedas at home from scratch is a long & laborious process but my quick & easy recipe will have your family eating yummy home made pedas in absolutely no time at all. The addition of ricotta cheese adds a wonderful taste & texture to the peda, but it is completely optional.
PEDA (Indian “Milk Fudge”)
2 cups milk powder, sifted
1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 oz size)
½ cup extra firm ricotta cheese, optional
4 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ tsp ground cardamom powder
big pinch of saffron (soaking in a tbsp or so of warm milk)
toasted unsalted almonds for garnish
In a large non-stick heavy bottom pan on medium heat, melt the butter. Then add the milk powder along with the sweetened condensed milk and ricotta cheese. Let cook until the mixture comes together and has a semi-solid consistency. This may take 10-12 minutes or so, stir every so often but do not over mix. At this point, add the ground cardamom powder and the saffron along with any soaking liquid. Mix well to combine. The mixture should have the consistency of a soft dough. Then remove the pan from the heat completely and set aside to allow it too cool for at least 30 minutes.
Then using lightly greased palms start rolling the mixture into round balls and then flattening them into patties or discs. I use about 2 tbsp or so of the mixture per peda. Then very gently press an almond into the top of the peda. You should get about 18-20 pedas easily. Serve at room temperature.
Feel free to add a few drops of vanilla extract or rose essence for a different but equally delicious taste. Instead of almonds, you can use chopped pistachios if you like.
For Mango Peda, simply add a cup of thick mango pulp during the cooking process.
You could also make an indent or “well” on top of the peda and add a small spoonful of your favorite jam or preserves such as mango, pineapple, strawberry, peach, fig, black cherry…
You could also use cookie cutters to make pretty shapes if you like.
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