Sakarkand surprise 
This off-beat dessert is fuss free and fast to cook, equally satisfying to the devout and the connoisseur 

There is nothing like a sweet satisfying finish to a day of fasting. And, this is the reason, we, as children, used to eagerly await the`A0Navratras. Well, to be honest, we`A0didn’t fast like the elders did but this didn’t stop us from making exorbitant claims on the`A0halwa`A0or`A0kheer`A0that was placed on the table.

The`A0halwa`A0was usually prepared with`A0koto`A0or`A0singhare ka`A0atta, had a dull grey appearance and failed to tempt, but the`A0kheer`A0came in different avatar every day.

One day, it was`A0makhana,`A0and the other sabudana`A0or`A0sakarkand —`A0and was always garnished with almonds, raisins and tinged with`A0kesar. Sometimes, the saffron made way for`A0gulkand`A0and clotted cream. Mother used to improvise with fresh fruits as well, and one recalls with mouth-watering pleasure the pale-emerald hued`A0of lauki`A0kikheer`A0that had a distinct imprint of`A0hari elayachi. Large sized kalmi amale ka murabba`A0topped it.`A0Naniji, when in good mood, would condescend to exert and cook a superb`A0chilgoze`A0ki kheer`A0that has a lovely texture and was sweetened naturally with lactose in the milk and a trace of clear honey, collected in the month of Kartik.

However, the delicious stuff was portioned out only in tablespoon full measures! The trouble was that one wanted to have all these things not by rotation but all at the same time. That unfulfilled desire, dear readers, is the inspiration behind this week’s recipe.

Adbhut kheer


Milk (full cream) 1 litre
Sakarkand 100 gm 
Dates (seedless) 50n gm
Dried apricots (pitted 50 gm
and chopped, preferably 
Turkish variety that are bright yellow)
Dried figs (chopped) 50 gm 
Raisins (soaked in water) 25 gm
Almonds (shelled and slivered) 25 gm 
Prunes (optional, chopped) 25 gm
Walnuts (shelled, broken in halves) 25 gm
Cashew nuts (whole, lightly fried) 25 gm
Clotted cream ¼ cup
Honey (optional) 1 tsp
Gulkand (optional) 1 tbs 

Boil, peel and grate sakarkand. In a thick-bottomed pan, bring to boil the milk, reduce to low heat and stir constantly till it is reduced to one fourth of its original volume. Lower the flame to simmer, add grated sakarkand, cook for a minute. Add dried fruits and nuts. Remove from flame and top with gulkand and clotted cream. Spread a thin trail of honey on top before serving. A handful of dry roasted makhana or just a little sabudaana soaked in water can be added if you wish to go the orthodox way. For those who want to experiment can substitute the clotted cream with thick coconut cream. Garnish with chandi ka varq and you will find out why it is called adbhut (amazing).