Zarda was something that came into our home from a neighbor’s house. In our home, gur wale chaawal are king, and whenever a batch of fresh gur came from the village, we knew what it meant. I shamefully admit I haven’t made them as often as I’d like to, but whenever I do, I’m a child again, sitting on the couch with my family, watching my dad dollop some homemade yogurt onto a pile or gur wale chaawal while I pick out the kishmish and coconut slices in my plate.
It’s a beautiful thing isn’t it? Food. It not only nourishes you, but it holds such strong memories that can instantly teleport you to the past.
Here’s what you’ll need:
3 cups rice, soaked
1 cup oil
4-5 alaichi (cardamom)
1/2-3/4 cup Almonds (badaam) soaked and peeled
3 cups gur (jaggery)
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup water
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the cloves and rice and par boil the rice. Do not overcook it. Stand right in front of the stove and keep watch! The rice is parboiled when it is almost cooked, but has a bite to it. It can take anywhere from 4-6 minutes. Once the rice is parboiled, drain it into a strainer and set aside.
In the same large pot, heat the oil and alaichi. After a couple minutes turn the heat off and add 1/4 cup of water. Turn the flame back on and add the almonds, the remaining water, milk and the gur. Cook on a low flame till the gur dissolves, approximately 5-8 minutes. Once the gur has dissolved and the mix has turned into a simple syrup consistent, add in the rice.
Make sure you loosen up the rice with a fork or plastic spoon, because once you drain it it tends to clump. Gradually add the rice into the gur syrup, and carefully fold everything till it combines and is thoroughly mixed. Then wrap the lid with a cloth and place it tightly on the pan, and keep the flame low, so the rice can continue to cook on dum, and absorb all that goodness. It takes about 15 minutes, more or less. If you want a crispy layer on the bottom, called “kareri”, keep it on dum for longer.
Once you break the dum, or the steaming process, gently fold the rice with a spatula or a large fork. Serve warm. Traditionally gur wale chaawal are eaten with homemade yogurt. The tart yogurts brings out all the deep caramel flavors of the rice and is delicious! I prefer eating it on it’s own, without any extras like kishmish and coconut and dates for that matter! But you do you. If you want to add any of these things add them at the same Tim eI added the almonds.
Hope you enjoy this family favorite!