Panjiri and Punjab are synonymous. This 500 year old dessert is perfect to keep you warm through the winter. It’s sweet, crunchy, and will warm the deepest of cockles.
Being from a culture as rich as the Punjabi culture is something to be proud of and enjoyed. One of the things that I hate about the modernization of Indian culture is the loss of traditional heritage. For example, I love panjiri. As soon as the weather turned chilly the house was filled with the smell of panjiri and besan ke ladoo. It was fabulous. It was a feeling I had, my mother did, my grandmother, great grandmother, and so on back for 500 years felt. Food is an amazing way to feel transported into history and to experience another world. And to know this recipe is as authentic and hasn’t changed since then is an amazing thing. I first had this dish as a small child, while visiting my great grandmother, who had written it down for her great grandmother. It’s a hearty, warming, and satisfying dish to make. And given it’s pre-refrigeration nature, it’s easy to store and keep for the winter months.
Roasting the gram flour gives this a rich and nutty flavor. Then you mix in the cardamom, sugar, almonds, pistachios, butter, and cranberries and you have a the most warm and hearty sweet you could ever want. There were many a winter mornings that we’d have a boiling hot cup of tea and a small bowl of panjiri, and I swear it felt like a B12 shot. You felt like you could run laps with your junk flapping in the wind. I’m not clear why, but it was apparently that awesome.
There’s no huge secret on how to make panjiri, other than DON’T rush. If you rush you will burn it or end up with a really chalky mineraly flavor. It takes about 20 minutes per cup to cook it down properly, so you can absolutely make a smaller batch if you want to speed things up. But beyond that, this is a labor of love and one you can enjoy all winter. So sit back, stir the hell out if it, and make a bucket of panjiri. Lastly, don’t lose faith. It should have the texture of dry sand. It stays in that wet sand phase for ages and makes you think it won’t work, then in a matter of a minute you’ve been blessed wet sand. So stick with it.
PanjiriCourse: DessertCuisine: Punjabi, Pakistani, IndianDifficulty: Easy
7 cups ladoo basan
1 lbs butter
4 tsp cardamom, ground
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups sliced almonds
1/2 cup whole pistachios
1/4 cup whole almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberry
- In a large pot, place the besan over medium-low heat.
- Dry roast the besan until it’s a golden brown. Make sure to consistently stir so it doesn’t burn. Approximately 10-15 minutes.
- Add in the butter and mix it thoroughly.
- Continue cooking the besan on low heat for 20 minutes. Stirring consistently. You’ll notice the mixture get clumpy, then smooth and somewhat fluid, back to dry.
- Thoroughly mix in sugar and cardamom.
- Continue to cook for 30 minutes on low heat, stirring consistently to avoid burning or uneven cooking.
- Mix in almonds, pistachios, and cranberries.
- Continue cooking the mixture for approximately 1 hr. Or until the mix is a deep brown color, nutty in smell, and the consistency of dry sand. I think the best test is to take a tsp of the mixture out, let it cool, and taste it. It should taste roasted and nutty. The starchy chalky bitterness of the gram flour should be gone.
- Place the mix into a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool.
- Serve or place in an airtight container for up to 8 weeks.