Pahadi Vrat Ki Panjiri is saccharine homemade fudge with a warmth of spices to its flavor. There is a pleasant drop in the temperature, early morning breeze has a welcoming note to it and the evenings are cozy. It is officially autumn knocking at the door with its full bloom. While brewing the first cup of tea in the morning, there is a kind of charming quietness and crispness in the air. That moment of the day I want to hold time hostage for a while and let my thoughts immerse in the first rays of the sun. Once such morning, while sipping coffee memories of a spicy kind of sweet mother used to prepare before winters cluttered my mind. The vague memories of its taste lingered in my taste buds. As the day progressed into a bright sunny one, I called mother, the first few introductory lines about the mysterious fudge were enough for her to guess the name – Vrat Ki Panjiri.
Panjiri is an Indian sweet popular across the Northern province of the country, with a peculiar spicy taste to it. Panjiri is considered a good nutritional supplement for the brutal winters, laced with plenty of dry fruits, spices, and herbal gums. The method to Pahadi Panjiri is slightly different from the Punjabi version of the sweet. No flour is added in the Pahadi Panjiri, the flavor is enhanced with the dry ginger powder, carom, and coriander seeds, also a pinch of turmeric is added to provide the beautiful golden color to the Panjiri. Then with thick sugar syrup the Panjiri is molded into fudge-like squares. These Panjiri squares are saved for the harsh, spine-chilling Northern winters to compliment a hot cup of tea.
As the autumn leaves prepare the stage for upcoming winter breeze, my mother would thoughtfully plan out the pre-make snacks that are high in energy and protein content. She would make most of the bright yet soft autumn sun to dry the herbal gums and nuts for the Panjiri. The next day these ingredients are transformed into Indian energy bars also known as Panjiri. A box full of Panjiri is then carefully stored in the pantry for the winters. These energy bars were always accompanied by a glass of piping hot milk for the evening teatime during winters. As the colors of twilight would cast their shades in the sky, mother would call for us to finish that glass of milk and a piece of Panjiri. Those time the idea of gulping milk and a spicy dessert never appealed to me. I always had qualms about eating that weird tasting sweet. But years after sitting in my own kitchen alone, planning for the winter days, Pahadi Panjiri was on the top of my pre-make snack list.
Learn how to make Panjiri from scratch in few simple steps:
- 200 gram lotus seeds (makhane)
- 100 gram dry desiccated coconut
- 1/4 Cup almonds
- 1/4 Cup pistachio
- 1/4 Cup peanuts
- 1 tbsp gond (edible gum)
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp carom seeds (ajwain)
- 2 tsp dry ginger powder/saunth (optional)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder (optional)
- 2 tsp cardamom powder
- 4 tbsp ghee
- 2 Cup sugar
- 1/2 Cup water
- To prepare the Panjiri, a day before making the panjiri sun-dry gond. Store in an air-tight container.
- In a pan dry roast ajwain and coriander seeds till aroma is released. Turn off the heat and grind to powder in mixer.
- Heat one tablespoon ghee in a heavy bottom skillet or kadhai over medium heat. Add gond, fry till it pop up and expand in size absorbing the ghee. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- Heat remaining ghee in the same skillet ( buy it here ). Fry together lotus seeds, peanuts, dry fruits.
- Fry till they turn crisp. Turn off the heat. Transfer to a plate. Let the roasted nuts cools down a bit.
- Now in mixer make coarse powder of roasted lotus seeds, dry fruits, peanuts, gond. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
- Add coconut, cardamom powder, ginger powder, turmeric powder in the same bowl. Combine all together. Set aside while your prepare the sugar syrup.
- Add sugar and water in a heavy bottom pan. Turn on the heat. Stir till the sugar dissolves.
- Let the sugar syrup simmer over medium heat. We need thick 1 to 2 thread consistency sugar syrup. A little bit thicker sugar syrup than what we need for Gulab Jamun.
- Keep on checking the sugar syrup if it has reach the desired consistency.
- Grease a large square baking sheet with a teaspoon of ghee.
- Once sugar syrup is ready, turn off the heat. Add the powdered ingredients mixture in the warm sugar syrup. Stir to combine.
- Spread the mixture in the baking tray of an inch thickness ( buy it here ). Using spatula or lightly wet fingers even out the surface of the mixture.
- At this stage you can keep the tray in the fridge to get set or leave at room temperature as well. I usually keep it in the fridge for 15 - 20 minutes.
- Once panjiri is set, using a sharp knife cut into squares.
- Store panjiri in an airtight container in the fridge. The shelf life of Panjiri is usually a month or so.