Recipe contributed by Good Parsi Wife
The Good Parsi Wife is a full time mother, full time foodie and part time Engineer living in Western Australia. In her spare time (does that even exist!?) you can usually find her in the kitchen experimenting for her family and social media followers, or singing and dancing around the house with her two active boys.
There are many Parsi traditions to celebrate milestones during a Zoroastrian’s childhood: naming ceremony, sitting ceremony (Besna), walking ceremony (Paglaru) and the all-important initiation ceremony (Navjote) – any excuse to eat, drink and party with family and friends!
In my opinion, the cutest one by far is the Besna ceremony, which means ‘to sit’. This is usually done around 6-8 months when the child starts to sit unaided, and involves an Indian milky sweet, the Peda (or Penda). We performed this ceremony with both my boys to celebrate their achievements and to give them a solid grounding in life with good blessings from Ahura Mazda.
A Paatlo (little platform/stool raised off the ground) was decorated with chawlk designs (pretty designs with white and coloured chalk powder) and the Pedas were placed in the centre of the Paatlo where the child sits (I always put baking paper on top to protect the baby’s new clothes from getting spoiled).
Bubs (in his stylish new clothes) was placed on the Paatlo to squash the Pedas which symbolised a solid/sticky grounding in life. I then placed a ’tili’ on his forehead, and made him wear a homemade flower garland (half of which ended up in his mouth) and hold a little flower bouquet.
He was then presented with gifts and ‘peramni’ (cash gifts) by family in attendance, and the ceremony was complete. Celebratory biryani or dal and rice is usually served, but I went for more of a high tea approach – the more food, the better!
You can buy Pedas at most Indian sweet stores, however with a nut allergy and gluten intolerance in the family I had to be careful. So, I made my own nut and gluten free Saffron Pedas from scratch using ingredients you can buy at most shops. It was very easy to do, and I’ve made these again with my eldest who requests them often to go in his Kindy lunch box.
Bawi Bride’s Note:
I had seen Good Parsi Wife’s post about making the Saffron Peda’s for her son’s Besna and so enamoured was I by the idea of making these by hand that I did the same for M’s Besna we did in New Zealand. We did M’s Besna when he was only 4.5 months old when he started sitting with help as I was leaving back for India and mom really wanted to be a part of the celebrations. The only change I made was added some yellow food colouring to some of the peda’s to make them a bit more yellow. Do note that the recipe below suggests a pistachio topping but if you’re allergic to nuts then do use the sugar flower topping instead.
- 1 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 0.5 tsp cardamom powder
- 1 tbsp rose water
- 1.5 cup full cream milk powder
- 400 gram can sweetened condensed milk
- Big pinch cinnamon
- Big pinch salt
- Generous pinch of good quality saffron
- 30 Salted, shelled pistachios or cachous/sugar decorations
- Put the milk in a small bowl and heat in the microwave for 10 seconds.
- Add the saffron to the milk and stir gently with a spoon. Leave to soak.
- Melt the ghee in a medium sized non-stick wok or pot, on medium heat.
- Add the condensed milk and stir with the ghee until combined. Keep stirring until mixture starts to boil.
- Reduce heat to low and add half of the milk powder. Stir well with a spatula or wooden spoon.
- Add the cardamom, cinnamon, salt and rosewater. Stir well.
- Add the saffron milk and stir well.
- Add the remaining half of the milk powder and stir until smooth. You will need to fold, chop and flatten the mix well with the spatula to ensure there are no milk powder clumps, and a nice dough has formed.
- Shut the heat and stir for a few more seconds. NOTE – the mixture should not stick to the sides of the wok.
- Remove mixture on to a plate to cool for 10-15 minutes, or until you can handle without burning hands.
- Take tablespoon size clumps of the dough. Roll into a sausage between both palms, fold in half and repeat a couple of times. Then roll into a ball and flatten with your thumb. You may like to lightly grease your hands with ghee/oil while rolling as the mixture can start to stick to your palms. Alternatively, you can wash your hands after every 5 or 6 Pedas and continue without extra grease.
- Place a pistachio or sugar decoration into the middle, place on baking paper, and cool in fridge once all Pedas have been rolled. Transfer to a sealed container and consume within two weeks.
This post is part of my ongoing series on the blog, the A to Z of Parsi Food which has been curated in collaboration with Parsi food enthusiasts globally. For more interesting recipes follow the hashtag #AtoZChallenge mentioned below.