How to make traditional Indian sweets in the OPOS way?

In a birthday book release, food blogger Chithra Vishwanathan adapts traditional sweets to the OPOS cooking method

“I always enjoyed eating the traditional Mysore pak; the one you have to bite hard into. And the badusha: if you say you don’t like it, you haven’t eaten a good badusha. The perfect badusha will have a soft core and be just mildly sweet,” says Chithra Vishwanathan, popularly known as ChitVish. We’re sitting in her cosy drawing room with a bowl of ruby red carrot halwa, waiting to be devoured. It is the well-known food blogger’s 80th birthday, and she has made the halwa for the stream of family and friends she’s expecting through the day.

“I still enjoy the taste of sweets made in the days of yore; and I want to present these same flavours to today’s generation. I don’t want these recipes to be lost,” says Chithra, who is set to launch her book Sweet Collections this Friday. With over 50 recipes for traditional South Indian sweets, the book promises to keep alive memories of times gone by. Recipes range from manoharam, ukkarai, akkaravadisal to golden barfi and silver jubilee. The best part — most of these can be made under 15 minutes using the One Pot, One Shot (OPOS) technique.

Chithra and her daughter Usha spent a month adapting these recipes to the OPOS way of cooking. “I moved in with her for a month, and we spent each morning trying to create these recipes. Each recipe took a minimum of three tries to get right,” she says. This will be her third book; the previous two were e-books chronicling Tamil Brahman recipes.

“Making traditional South Indian sweets has always been tricky. A katli might be easy to make, but a Mysore pak is harder to tame,” she says, “I find that with OPOS, they are comparatively easier. South Indian sweets have a lot of sugar and ghee: while you can cut down the ghee, you can’t compromise with the sugar. So if you think something is too sweet then eat a smaller piece. People do use palm sugar, but that changes colour and texture. Some things are just meant to be the way they are.” Chithra has also documented several jaggery sweets in the book.

She is a stickler for measurements. “It’s how my mother taught me and plus I was a Chemistry student. When you cook with the exact amount of ingredients, even water, you’ll find your sambar tastes better, your vegetables have the right crunch. With OPOS, exact measurements are important. This mode ensures food cooks in its own juices. Hence, the flavours are better and the nutrients contained; there’s no wastage. And, it takes just five minutes to cook even elaborate dishes.” Her kitchen has a neat row of measuring cups and a weighing machine. “I’ve recommended using a weighing machine for my recipes.”

A firm believer of documenting her recipes, she has stacks of books, some from her mother, some her own.

“My mother would always try making something new from recipes she would have read. I still have those and I’ve added my own recipes too. If I ever meet a chef willing to share recipes, I immediately make a note. Documentation has made all the difference,” says Chithra. She still regularly uploads recipes and photographs on her app AskChitVish, which currently has over 3,000 recipes.

In fact, her blog and app also earned her the moniker Internet Maami. “I still enjoy clicking photos of recipes for uploading and interacting with my readers,” she smiles, as the door bell heralds the arrival of the next group of friends to wish ChitVish for her birthday.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 7:44:23 PM |

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