POOSANIKAI HALWA – ASH GOURD HALWA

POOSANIKAI HALWA: Ash Gourd known in Tamil as “Poosanikai” is a vegetable commonly found and used in every part of Tamil Nadu and most parts of India.  In Tamil Nadu it is preferred as a vegetable cooked in “more kuzhambu” or as a side dish.  It is grated and prepared as  halwa  ( a sweet dish) which is usually served in weddings and other functions. Ash Gourd is not high in calories but it is nutritious with good mineral and vitamin content.
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COOKING TIME: 1 ½ hours
SERVINGS:  8
INGREDIENTS:
1.      Ash Gourd (grated finely in a grater) : 6 Cups
2.      Refined Sugar: 2 ½ Cups ( 500 grams)
3.      Milk : ½ Cup ( 100 ml)
4.      Ghee (clarified butter) : 1 Cup ( 200 ml)
5.      Cardamom : 3
6.      Cashew : 15 no
7.      Raisin : 15
8.      Food Color : a pinch (optional)
 
 

METHOD:

                  Remove the skin and the centre pith with seeds and finely grate the ash gourd pieces.  Keep it aside. Powder the cardamom and with a tablespoon of ghee fry the cashew nuts and raisins.  Over moderate flame, keep a thick bottomed vessel and add the grated ash gourd pulp with water and milk and allow it to simmer till the water etc evaporates completely. Keep stirring this mixture continuously without getting it burnt and this will take 20 to 30 minutes to get the water absorbed well.   Sugar should be added next with the cardamom powder and food color.  When the sugar melts fully, add the ghee to the mixture.  It will take another 15  to 20 minutes for the entire mixture to blend and it will  stop sticking to the sides of the vessel, oozing out the ghee.  Finally add the fried cashew and raisins and remove from stove.
 
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Tips:  Adding extra sugar and ghee is optional as per one’s taste.
 
This sweet can stay fresh for 4,5 days at room temperature. It takes some time to cook the grated ash gourd with water to evaporate and so instead it can be cooked in the pressure cooker allowing for one or two whistles.
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