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  • Besan Pinni

    YIELD: 15–20 small pinnis
    TOOLS: You’ll need a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan; a blender or food processor; a large mixing bowl; and a platter.
    TRY THIS! Skip making the balls entirely and keep the mixture in a container to eat with a spoon or sprinkled over oatmeal.

    If there is one recipe that brings back well-loved memories of my mom’s childhood home, it’s this one. I can still see my grandmother sitting on a low stool in the kitchen squeezing sugary dough balls in her wrinkled, shaking hand. Her pinnis were always exactly the same size and perfectly round—evidence of her years upon years of experience.

    • 1 1/2 cups /160 g besan (gram or chickpea flour), sifted
    • 1/2 cup /120 mL ghee or vegetable oil, plus more if needed
    • 1/2 cup /50 g raw, unsalted almonds, finely ground in a blender or food processor
    • 3/4 cup /150 g granulated or raw cane sugar, such as Sucanat, finely ground in a blender or food processor
    1. Place the besan in a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan over medium–high heat and dry roast for 2 to 4 minutes, until lightly browned. Add the ghee to the sauté pan and stir well.
    2. Reduce the heat to medium–low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Once it’s cooked through, the mixture will become very aromatic. The key here is to occasionally stir the besan so it cooks through but does not burn. The biggest mistake you can make at this stage is to leave the besan slightly raw by not cooking long enough. Be sure to keep a close eye on it, because it can burn easily. I have noticed quite a reduction in cooking time to 10 to 15 minutes when using cast-iron pots. The mixture should be cooked through, but as soon as it starts to brown too much, it’s likely done.
    3. Add the almonds and cook for 5 minutes. You’re adding the almonds late in the cooking time so they don’t burn. Remove from the heat, add the sugar, and stir until well combined. It’s necessary for the sugar to be very fine so it blends well. It’s also very important to add the sugar after you remove from the heat so the sugar doesn’t immediately begin to melt.
    4. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside for about 10 minutes, until the mixture is slightly warm but cool enough to handle. If the mixture is dry at this point and does not bind, you can add more melted ghee, 1 teaspoon at a time. You are now ready to make the pinnis. Enlist your kids—they will love helping.
    5. Gather a handful of the mixture. While turning it slowly in 1 hand, squeeze it and bind the mixture together into a smooth ball. Be patient, as this technique takes time to perfect. Some of the mixture will fall away, but after you work with it a bit, it should form a solid ball. Be sure the mixture remains warm. If it cools too much, it won’t bind into a ball. Place the ball on a large platter.
    6. Continue making the balls until you finish the mixture. Set the pinnis aside on the platter to cool and harden slightly. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 1 month. You can also freeze them for up to 3 months.

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

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