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Ramazan '11 - Recipe 1 - Qawami Seviyan - the Usmani way

ABOUT THIS PARTICULAR VERSION:

We all love Seviyan during Eid and it's one sweet dish that has many versions but you will find that this one is VERY different. I will explain how it is made as much as possible and watching its cooking method is really the best way to get it just right. Promise to put up pictures soon!

HISTORY BEHIND THE DISH:

This recipe was dictated to my mother by my Dadi many years ago and my aunt Nuzi was around as well. My mother still has the handwritten recipe which I will scan and publish when I can get my hands on it! My Dadi mentioned that in her household the traditional recipe called for 1 part seviyan to 16 parts sugar and then it was eaten with 'malai' - fresh buffolo's milk cream! This was meant to balance the extreme sweetness of the dish! - They obviously didn't know about calories and heart disease then!!

Dadi mentioned that this recipe has now been altered and she used to use 1 part sev to 3-4 parts sugar - though my mother uses 1 part seviyan and 2 parts sugar - you can see what works for you!

WAY TO EAT:
Without trying to be patronising, I will need to explain how one is to eat this version. Most seviyan are milkly and ready to eat as prepared. However, this version (and you will understand from the proportions of sugar used!) is more like, say as cereal crossed with a halva... what I mean is that once it is ready, you scoop a big dollop of in your bowl and add some cold or warm milk to dilute it and then eat. This means that not only does this seviyan last longer than the usual versions but its also up to you how thick or thinned out you would like to eat it.

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY:

I'll be honest, though the method sounds easy, it's takes time before you master the technique of cooking this particular dish. I don't mean to daunt you but please ask me anything about the method you don't understand. The method sounds simple but there is a stage at which is can go wrong!

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of broken dry seviyan (vermicelli)
3 cups of caster sugar
Enough ghee for frying and bhaghar (tempering) the spices and seviyan
About a litre of milk at hand, you will probably needs 2-3 cups
1/4 a cup of slivered almonds
1/4 cup of slivered pistachios
1/4 cup of sultanas
2-5 cardamom
2-5 cloves
A pinch of saffron
sliver leaf or rose petals for decoration if desired
Milk - warm or cold OR cream to serve

METHOD:

1. Begin by tempering the cardamon and cloves in ghee and then once the aroma develops fry the seviyan in the tempered ghee in a saucepan on medium heat. To ensure that the seviyan do not burn keep stirring until the seviyan turn a medium brown colour. You might have to keep moving the pan of the heat and stirring to make sure they don't burn.

2. In another pan make a simple sugar syrup to a consistency where a single stream runs when you lift it with a spoon - 'Eek taar' or 1 steam consistency .

3. Add fried seviyan to the sugar syrup and mix.

4. Now add milk until the whole mixture is combined and thick. This has to be done by 'andaza' - estimation. I usually use 2-3 cups of milk, but you will need to try it yourself. You need to now keep this on low heat and cover until the milk is absorbed and the seviyan are cooked completely. This is where issues can start and at the bottom you will find a troubleshooting heading - please see below should you find that a)either the mixture is not cooked or b) the addition of milk leads to curdling. If you have no issues, then add saffron which has been soaked in hot milk for about 20 mins, to the seviyan.

5. Finish off the seviyan by pouring into a serving bowl and allowing to cool. Sprinkle with nuts and sultanas and decorate with silver leaf and/or rose petals. Refrigerate or leave outside until ready to serve.

6. Serve with fresh ice cold or warm milk or cream

STORAGE LIFE:

Qawami seviyan can last in a freezer for months. Equally it can last pretty long in the fridge or even outside, covered. The sugar is a preservative and hence it does last pretty long!

By the way this its great for breakfast!

TROUBLESHOOTING:

a) Milk has absorbed but seviyan are still raw: I would add a bit more milk, then put the pan on an extremely low heat and cover and allow to cook within it's steam - which is called 'dam'. Cook for about 30 mins, this should do it.
b) If milk curdles when added to seviyan: This might look wrong but it actually helps in cooking to seviyan faster as well is it's not going to taste bad. The water let out of the milk actually will allow the seviyan to cook well. Cook on low heat, slightly uncovered.


Enjoy, I promise you it's worth it! People will love this version!