My sister-in-law had prepared one wonderful barfi (sweetmeat) for Diwali last year. It was full of dry fruits and had pureed figs and therattipal (milk sweet) as the base. I was pregnant back then and my doctor was forever telling me to up my protein and calcium intake. “Traditional south-Indian vegetarian diet isn’t high enough in protein. Please eat two cups of sundal (spiced boiled chana) and a handful of nuts each day.”
I tried my best to keep up with the two cups of protein each day. The nuts part, though, was easy. Thanks to the Dry Fruit Palkova prepared by Lakshmi akka. A friend of hers, she said, had taught her how to make it. I’ve wanted to make a batch of this lovely sweet since then. We finally made it for Janmashtami (birth of Lord Krishna) last week.
The only difference between her version and ours is while she ground the dried figs into a thick coarse paste, we simply fine chopped them. Those of you who love palkova (who doesn’t?!), this gets even better, with the crunch of nuts and figs in each bite. My hubby took this to share with his colleagues the next day and got wonderful reviews from everyone.
The best part about this sweet is that it is a solid source of calcium. Palkova (made of milk and sugar), almonds and figs are the three main ingredients, all of which are rich in calcium. Since it was festive season and I’d chosen to blog on calcium rich foods for Srivalli’s Blogging Marathon, I thought this would just fit the bill. While khova (palkova) has around 650 mg of calcium per 100 gm, almonds have 230 mg and figs have 80 mg. (All info courtesy WWW). And, except for the khova, which is loaded with sugar and calories, the sweet overall is pretty healthy due to the addition of dates (rich source of iron) and ‘healthy’ nuts like walnuts and almonds.
For those of you who think these nuts are ‘fatty’, bear in mind that they are good sources of monounsaturated fatty acids that are said to lower cholesterol. In fact, my father (who recently underwent bypass surgery), has been asked by his doctor to eat 4 almonds or walnuts daily!
Now, for the recipe.
Dry Fruit Palkova
Palkova/Khova – 1.5 cups (see notes)
Dried Figs – 200 gm (these were around 30 of them)
Dried dates – I cup
Almonds – ½ cup
Walnuts – 100 gm (around 15 half kernels)
Pistachio – ¼ cup
Ghee/butter – ½ tsp (to grease)
(You can use any nuts of your choice)
Dry roast almonds, walnuts and pista separately
Finely chop all the nuts, dates and figs (see notes)
Take the khova in a big heavy bowl
Add in the chopped dry fruit and nuts a little at a time and mix with a strong long spatula. This is tough task, with the khova (esp. homemade variety) being a sticky, tough mass. Do not use any plastic spoon however strong as it may break
While we (rather mother-in-law) prepared khova at home, you could use the store-bought khova too. But the homemade version tastes beautiful and gives a wonderful sticky texture to the sweet. I’ll put up the recipe for this one of these days
I started dry grinding the nuts in a mixer-grinder but it doesn’t chop evenly; so, I hand-chopped the nuts. You use a food processor if you have one