Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cracked Wheat Pudding (Lapsi)

Lapsi is a sweet North Indian pudding or porridge similar to the semolina pudding (siro or sooji halwa) I featured previously on this blog. It seems to be most common in Gujarat but is also made in nearby Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

Lapsi is often prepared for Divali and other auspicious events such as birthdays, anniversaries, when opening a new business, or moving into a new home. In Hinduism, it is also made as prasad (Sanskrit for gracious gift), a religious offering to a deity which is then distributed and consumed.

Broken wheat is not refined, and as such maintains the nutrients that are present in whole wheat. It is a complex carbohydrate so particularly suitable for those with diabetes.

There is also a savory lapsi made with spices, chillis, and vegetables which I have never tried.

Serves 12-16

10 ounces unsalted butter ( 2 1/2 sticks)
2lb cracked wheat (also known as dalia, crushed raw wholewheat berry, broken wheat, bulgar)
1 cup fine sweetened dessicated coconut (if you can only find shredded coconut, pulse in a food processor until fine)
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
4 tablespoons golden raisins
8-11 cups water
1/8 teaspoon orange color powder
3 pinches saffron
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
slivered almonds and/or chopped pistachios, for garnish

1. In a large pot, melt butter. Saute cracked wheat and coconut over medium heat for 15-20 minutes or until fragrant. Do not increase heat as wheat may burn and become bitter.
2. Add fennel seeds and raisins and saute for a further two minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and add 8 cups of water. Be careful as the hot cracked wheat might splatter.
4. Add orange color and saffron and mix well. Cover pot and return to medium-low heat for 20 minutes.
5. Taste the lapsi to see if it has cooked. It should be neither chewy or mushy. If uncooked, add 1 or 2 cups of water and cover. Cook for 10 more minutes.
6. Again taste the lapsi. If it has not cooked, add 1/2 to 1 cup water and cover. Lower the heat if necessary. Cook for 5 minutes. Repeat until the lapsi is cooked.
7. Add sugar, cardamom and nutmeg. Note that lapsi will not cook further once sugar is added.
8. Garnish with almonds and pistachios and serve warm.
9. Lapsi can be stored in the refrigerator for one week or in the freezer for three months. To defrost leave in the fridge overnight. To reheat, add a little water and microwave in a covered dish or heat on the stovetop.