I came across this sweet dish about 4 to 5 years back. The name was very unusual for a sweet dish – Kesar means saffron and Mani in Sanskrit means gem. The taste was a combination of a few traditional sweets, a crunchy yet melt in the mouth texture all at the same time. Ever since then I wanted to try and make it at home, but I had no-one to teach me or tell me all the specific ingredients.
As I have mentioned before, I recently got a couple of recipe books from Kenya, ‘ The Ultimate Collection – A Vegetarian Cookbook’ and ‘Exotic Flavours – Cuisine With Class’. I looked at the recipe given for Kesar Mani from each book and then decided to try it out. The ingredients from both books were similar, so I combined their ingredients and had a go. The first attempt needed a little extra sweetness and some more spice I felt. So I tweaked the recipes slightly and came up with the version below.
I had made this dish over the summer for one of my husband’s friends for his wedding, but I thought it would be good to post it on Radiance Recipes now when people would make or like to try out new sweets for Diwali. This is a good sweet to indulge in for those special occasions.
The key to the success of this recipe is preparation. Make sure that you have all the ingredients ready and measured before you start the recipe. One of the recipe books did not add the thin vermicelli, I guess if you don’t like it or do not have it then you can leave it out. You can use rose petals and crushed vermicelli for decoration as well as the flaked almonds and pistachios.
Preparation time: 45 mins Cooking time (plus overnight setting time): 1 hr Makes: 1 kg (40 pieces)
150 g gram flour (chickpea flour)
150 g milk powder
100 g thin vermicelli roasted
120 g fine dessicated coconut
200 g almonds coarsely ground
100 g each pistachios and cashew nuts coarsely ground
150 g gund (gum arabica ) crushed
400 g icing sugar
380 g ghee (clarified butter)
4 tsp taj (cinnamon) powder
2 tsp elaichi (cardamom) powder
1 g kesar (saffron) lightly crushed (keep some aside for decoration)
Flaked almonds & pistachios & saffron for decoration
1) Measure all the ingredients and keep aside. Grind the nuts coarsely and keep aside. Dry roast the roughly broken vermicelli to a golden colour, cool and keep aside. Grease the thalis or baking trays that you are going to use to set the kesar mani and keep aside.
2) In a large heavy bottom pan on a medium heat, place little more then half of the ghee. To this add the gram flour and roast until it becomes a light pink or golden brown, making sure to stir continuously. You can add a little more ghee if you feel it is to dry (too much will just make the flour bubble up rather then roasting properly). When the aroma from the flour is released add the gund a little at a time waiting for it to pop before you add more.
3) Switch off the heat and add the crushed nuts, milk powder, dessicated coconut, a large pinch of kesar, spices and remaining ghee, mix well until all the ingredients have blended. When a little more cooler add the icing sugar and roasted vermicelli combine all the ingredients until well blended. The texture will be a little like coarse wet sand and will hold its shape if made into a ball.
4) Split the mixture into the greased thalis or baking trays about an inch deep and press down with the back of a small bowl or your hands. Once the mixture is packed in and smooth sprinkle with the decoration and lightly press down again. Cover and leave to set over night in a cool dry place. The next morning cut into 1 inch squares. You will have to gently wiggle the pieces before lifting them clear of the thali. Store in air tight containers in the fridge. It will keep for a few weeks, if they’re not eaten by then 😉