Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Soan Papdi (Version One)

I am currently staying with friends in San Jose where I was recently introduced to a heavenly Indian confection called soan papdi. There's no way I can accurately describe it. It's sweet, buttery, and very strongly flavored with ground cardamom. The texture is spectacular: light, flaky, and quick to dissolve on the tongue. What we tried was a packaged sweet but of course I wanted to know if mere mortals might be capable of making this delight in a home kitchen.

There appears to be one recipe on the internet, endlessly copied and pasted into numerous blogs and Indian cooking websites with little information beyond ingredients and basic cooking instructions. After a trip to the Indian market for exotic ingredients like besan and charmagaz, we were ready to give it a go.

Wheat and chickpea flours are mixed together and cooked in copious amounts of ghee. Meanwhile a sugar syrup comes to a boil and is eventually mixed into the ghee dough until "thread like flakes" appear, obviously key to that heavenly texture. Unsurprisingly this was the part that completely eluded us. We beat and beat but there was nary a flake to be found. Defeated, we spread the dough into a pan to cool, and topped it with freshly ground cardamom and melon seeds. The resulting sweet was tasty but nothing like what we'd hoped. I was surprised at how little information I was able to find. I would love to know more about the process by which threadlike flakes come to be. I definitely want to take another stab at this.

1 comment:

Stacey said...

My husband is from Pakistan and his aunt brought this over for dinner at my place last night. I am not a big fan of most Indian desserts though I LOVE the food -- this is definitely and exception. It was amazing! It's the most like cotton candy in texture but the flavor is more grown up. I was just seeking out a recipe and noticed it's the same one and a friend of mine also from Pakistan warned me that there are different types so it could be 1 of 2 things. Either the syrup wasn't cooked enough (I'm thinking it has to get pretty darned close to the candy stage to work in creating those strings and layers) or perhaps this is a recipe for one of the types that aren't flaky. I have seen some pictures of home made versions along with said recipe and sometimes they look dense other times they look flaky. I'm going to give it a shot and concentrate on the syrup--see what happens.