Sweet Potato & Coconut Pudding / Halava

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I was looking for sweet potatoes in the market on Friday, which was Marathi New Year. I got it listed under “yam” but as this article on the Kitchn would explain, it is really a sweet potato. When I bought it I had no idea that it would be so surprisingly orange within, unlike the purplish cream-colored ones I had always seen in India.

Anyway, today I made this dessert which I was planning to make on Friday, about three days late than the new year day! But that’s alright, as long as I get to enjoy this satisfying bowl of dessert. The common Indian recipe would be lacto-vegetarian and would use milk and ghee. However, I was looking forward to make a dairy-free vegan version, so substituted that with coconut milk and fresh grated coconut. For sweetness, I chose to rely upon dates, instead of using any refined sugar.

SWEET POTATO & COCONUT PUDDING  or HALAVA

Ingredients:

1 sweet potato.
7 dates (yeah, the magic number, like 7 Harry Potter books!)
1.5 cups of coconut milk
1/2 cup freshly grated coconut (I used frozen)
1/2 teaspoon of cardamom powder (really adds the Indian touch… but can be substituted with cinnamon powder as well)
Chopped nuts like almond/ pistachio for garnish (optional)
A pinch or two of salt
1-2 tbspoon olive oil

Method:

  1. Shred sweet potato into thin strips using mandolin.
  2. Heat olive oil in a pan. Add shredded sweet potato. Sprinkle salt. Stir for 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add coconut milk, chopped dates, and cardamom powder to the pan. Cover it and let the sweet potato cook. Takes about 10 minutes. It may require intermittent stirring.
  4. Take care than sweet potato does not become too mushy. It would absorb the coconut milk but don’t wait till it becomes very dry. We need a consistency that is characteristic of pudding or halava.
  5. When it is time to take it off the heat, mix in the fresh coconut for bringing the extra texture.
  6. Garnish with chopped nuts.

Like any pudding or halava, you can have it while it is still warm or cool it in fridge before serving. It tastes nice both ways.

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No-bake Chewy Energy Bars

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This version of energy bar was long-pending on my wish list, to share the recipe with my family and friends back in India, not all of whom have oven units installed in their kitchens. There are quite some interesting recipes around. I especially liked the ones by the Minimalist Baker and the Kitchn. As usual, taking the bits from both, I developed my own version, as follows:

NO-BAKE CHEWY ENERGY BARS

Ingredients:

1 cup mejdool dates

1 cup alomonds

1/2 cup cranberries

1/2 cup walnuts

4 tbspoons of flax seed powder (optional, but would suggest for additional binding effect and health benefits).

A pinch or two of salt

Method:

  1. Combine dates, almonds, cranberries, walnuts, and flax seed powder together and blend it in the food processor to form a “dough”. You may need an intermittent mixing between two rounds of blending to mix in the clumps of dates, if any.
  2. Before forming a dough ball, with some light kneading, sprinkle a pinch or two of salt over it. I liked those as “a grain of salt” surprises in otherwise sweet bars.
  3. Shape and press the bar dough into a slab, over a cookie sheet.
  4. Make cuts/ shapes of your liking.
  5.  Keep the cut slab in freezer for about 30 minutes.
  6. Take out, separate  the pieces and store in a jar.
  7. Personally, I liked those as cooled slabs, so I kept them in the  refrigerator (not freezer section). Yet, it would keep well even at the room temperature, if you prefer so.

Dates really are the magic ingredient here. They hold bars together and add nice chewy caramel like sweetness. A bit of kneading for a minute or two would bring out the oils of walnut and almond, which in turn gives a beautiful glaze to these bars. Plus, the possibilities are endless little variations in nuts/ seeds/ dried fruits choices based on your liking (and pantry inventory!).