Saturday, September 04, 2010

Phool Makhanar Payesh

Makhana are the puffed seeds of giant water lilies. Makhana or Euryale ferox is an aquatic cash crop in India. The Mallah community of Bihar use indigenous methods for harvesting the seeds of water lily plants, and spend a lot of their time in processing the seeds of this crop. Read an interesting paper on Makhana and its harvesting method here.

I first had my share of Makhane ka Kheer or Makhanar Payesh in Madhubani as a pre-teen. I wasn’t particularly thrilled about the fact that the dessert was made of “seeds”. IMG_0687

Our hosts, an elderly couple who were both resident doctors spoke Maithili and regarded this kheer as a great delicacy which paired well with a dinner of Sattu ka Paratha or locally called Makuni.

I was surprised to find these natural foods here in Toronto at the Indian store. I was quick to grab two packets. We spent the first just snacking on it. I tossed the Makhana in hot ghee and seasoned with salt and pepper and fried them on very low heat till each “seed” got blissfully crispy. They beat a bowlful of calorie-rich buttered popcorn hands down!


But tonight I made Makhanar Payesh or Makhane ka Kheer, a simple dessert of thickened milk (or cream) and the Makhana thrown in and cooked till soft. The chopped almonds and cardamom powder were just the fringe benefits of an innovative dessert.

IMG_0691 My childhood friend Rajni consulted her Mother for me before I started on my payesh project. “Aunty” suggested I toss the Makhana in ghee and then add them to the milk. And I did exactly that.

Ingredients for Makhanar Payesh are:

1 liter half and half cream
250 grams makhana
2 tablespoons ghee
5-6 tablespoons sugar
Few almonds, roughly chopped
Quarter teaspoon powdered green cardamoms
Few strands of saffron (optional)

Start boiling the cream in a thick bottom pan. You could also use milk, I used cream to reduce cook time. Add the cardamom powder and half the chopped almonds to the cream.

In a separate pan, heat ghee and toss the Makhana on low heat till they get crispy and brown on the edges. Keep them aside.
Babysit the milk/cream and keep stirring it continuously. It should reduce to almost half before you add the toasted Makhana. Add sugar.
Cook till the Makhana is soft in the insides. Add the leftover chopped almonds and sprinkle some saffron before you serve. The Makhanar Payesh can be served either warm or chilled.

IMG_0679 IMG_0680 IMG_0694 IMG_0692


Sayantani said...

eta je katodin khaini ki bolbo. prothom kheyechilam amar UP'r dance teacher er barite. darun legechilo tarpare onar kach theke recipe nie barite amii banatam. darun mone koriecho. dekhte habe ekhane paoya jay kina.

GB said...

Pree, I had makhana sitting in my kitchen for over a year...When we moved, I passed it on to a friend--I never quite managed to get it right! How did you make the snack? (the reason I bought it in the first place!) and do you know anything about the mutter -makhana vegetable curry they make in punjab?..I tried, it failed miserably!...let me know if you've ever made that/have ideas on how it needs to be done!

I love your sunflowers! :)

PreeOccupied said...

@Sayantani, try that BIG grocery store in Indranagar. I think they have it. I forget the name.

@GB, The snack, heat ghee, toss in the makhanas, season with salt and pepper. All this on low heat. Keep moving the makhanas till they get coated with the ghee (about 2 tbsp for 250 grams of makhana). The makhanas should be crisp. Pop one in your mouth and check.

I know a spinach makhana recipe, just as you would make palak paneer, instead paneer, add the makhanas. What went wrong for you?

GB said...

pree they turned out tough and leathery --they weren't soft at all and they added nothing to the dish. all round disaster! and mutter makhana is the one dish you will find on every north Indian shaadi menu!! even the snack i tried to make wasn't crunchy...but i ddn't try on low heat, so maybe there's hope there! Only thing is now I'm sceptical to picking up another huge packet and having it sit another year...

same thing with sagoo/sabu ...I tried making the crunchy snack- no go. I tried making the sabu vada--no go. Only thing I know to make with it is the khichdi and the kheer! (if you have tips on the namkeen, please let me know!!)

Jaya said...

this is one thing which was on my mind..but I never got the courage to use up the entire packets of makhana so I always end up giving myself some excuses are really giving me a push up to do it Pree..makhana matar is a great rich gravy dish I also like to eat as GB wrote...

nothing do with recipe , but word verification is showing to write me "spidar" ..I wonder is it spidar or spider ;-)..

hugs and smiles

Preeti said...

Pree..I bought two 100gms of makhana packs last week..and was thinking what to make out..and here you are with the solutions..:)