Tomorrow is Krishna Janmashtami – one of my favorite festivals of the year. We welcome little Krishna home by making all his favorite sweets and savories. We make elaborate rangolis in front of the house and draw his tiny footsteps from the main door to the Pooja room. The best part about Krishnastami is that our little God Krishna has no rules whatsoever. He loves anything and everything served to him with love. And that is one of the reasons, my Amma always ensured to cook everything that we loved as kids, to celebrate Janmastami.
Milk sweets are a must for Krishnashtami, as the legend goes that little Krishna was fond of cows and milk. There are so many stories around how the cows willingly gave their milk to him for his love and affection. I am not an expert when it comes to following a lot of religious stuff but as I said earlier, I love preparing food and that’s how I celebrate many festivals 🙂 This festival is no exception.
This year we are lucky to have our little princess – my niece in our family and it is such a special occasion for us to be celebrating Krishna Jayanthi. The sister is going gaga preparing a lot of stuff to celebrate and I am making the sweets. Now coming to the recipe today, Palkova is one of the traditional sweets prepared for Krishnastami – mainly as milk is a favorite with the little God Krishna. Palkova is a fudgy milk sweet made mainly using milk and sugar. There are many variations to prepare Palkova but this method of making Theratti Pal is our favorite since childhood. And that is exactly what I am making tomorrow 🙂
Traditionally full cream milk is boiled on slow fire (on firewood) for hours together until milk thickens and reduces to ¼ of the original quantity. Sugar is then stirred in and again, the mixture is slow cooked until Palkova thickens. The entire process can take more than 6hrs and that is how it was prepared in the olden days. These days, none of us have the time nor energy for the same. There are ultra-fast options to make Palkova in microwave too! My method is neither too easy nor tough. I followed the same recipe that has been in our family for generations but cooked it on my gas stove 🙂 This sweet stays well outside for a couple of days and when refrigerated, even for a week.
To make Palkova | Theratti Pal Recipe
What I used –
- Toned Milk, 4 cups
- Sugar, ⅓ cup (or less)
- Green Cardamoms, 1-2
- Chopped Almonds, a few (optional)
- Saffron Strands, a few (optional)
How I made –
1. In a thick bottomed pan, bring the milk to a boil on low flame. As the milk boils, stir it continuously. Keep stirring the milk continuously and soon, from the edges thick milk solids would begin to form. Scrape the edges and continue to boil the milk on low flame.
2. After 15-20 mins, the milk thickens and there would be lumpy milk solids. Keep stirring continuously and boil the milk on low flame until the milk has reduced to ¼ of its original quantity. After the milk reduces to half, it would take another 10 mins to thicken and reduce to ¼ of the original quantity. Roughly powder the green cardamoms in a mortar and pestle. Add it to the mixture as well.
3. Add sugar and mix well. Roughly powder the green cardamoms in a mortar and pestle. Add it to the mixture as well. If using, add the saffron strands. When the sugar dissolves completely, the mixture would turn watery again. On low flame, keep cooking the mixture until it begins to thicken again.
4. When the mixture is semi solid and a distinct line forms when the ladle is pulled across the pan, it is time to remove the mixture from heat. The mixture continues to solidify as it cools down. So don’t overcook the mixture.
5. Add slivers of chopped almonds and saffron strands on top. Serve warm or chilled.
- Traditionally, full fat milk is used but I have used the standardized/toned milk. With the full fat milk, Palkova turns a creamier and richer.
- The milk to sugar ratio depends on how sweet the Palkova has to be. Use a little less than ⅓ cup if you don’t like the Palkova too sweet.
- It is important to use a thick bottomed pan so that the milk doesn’t burn.
- Always cook the milk/mixture on low flame and don’t stop stirring. Any browned or burnt parts ruin Palkova.
- Cook Palkova only until it comes together. It is really okay if it is still semi solid as it will thicken upon cooling down. If you overcook, the sugar would crystallize and wouldnt taste good.
- Instead of powdering the green cardamom, a generous pinch of cardamom powder can be used.
- Saffron strands are entirely optional. Even without the saffron, the Palkova gets a beautiful pale yellow color.
- Slivered almonds are optional.
- Store Palkova in an air tight container and keep it refrigerated for longer shelf life up to a week.