Pathir Pheni for ICC Dec – Happy Pongal!
Wish you all a very Happy Pongal/Sankranthi!!
Hope you all had fun
I tasted this sweet last month only, but it has already made its way to the top of my favorite sweets. This was served at my sister’s wedding and I loved it. A lot of you must be wondering how this is pronounced and what this is? This is known as Pathir (Pa-di-r) Pheni (Pha-e-ni). There is a very popular sweet in some parts of India called Feni (while ghee roasted vermicelli) which is especially sold during the Ramzaan months. Guess this Pathir Pheni is the south Indian cousin of Feni, because the taste is very very similar, only the form is different. I have always loved Feni, so I liked Pathir pheni also, very much! It is extremely difficlut to make Feni at home, so I haven’t been able to eat any for the past 4-5 years When I ate Pheni, I wanted to recreate that recipe at home. I came back from the wedding and hadn’t even started looking for the recipes, when I got the delightful email from Srivalli of Cooking 4 all Seasons, who is also the host of the Indian Cooking Challenge (ICC). I haven’t been able to participate in the ICC for the past few months due to a lot of travel, but this time I could not miss it for anything!!
I have no idea why this is called Pathir Pheni, but lets not get into those things now. The more important thing is the taste and now the recipe. The distinctive flavor this Peni has, comes from semolina. The Pheni is actually a puffed puri, that has no sweetness in itself. It is served with powdered sugar and/or badam (almond) milk. This is not the almond milk that you get in the grocery stores here. It is sweetened milk flavored with ground almonds, saffron and cardamom. The sweet milk is the sweet element of Pathir pheni. The badam milk is added only when you are serving the pheni. Soaking the pheni in warm badam milk for 15-20 minutes is also nice, the pheni absorbs some sweetness from the milk.
This is not exactly the same recipe that I tasted at my sister’s wedding (that pathir pheni was almost like puff pastry!! Still on a lookout for that recipe!). This recipe is more like paal poli. But, I have to thank Harini for suggesting this recipe for this month’s ICC. The recipe is not too complicated. It just needs a little bit of skill and patience. The recipe is very similar to my Surul Puri recipe, the only difference is how we roll out the cut dough. For surul puri we roll it out vertically whereas for Pheni, it is done horizontally. Lets get to the recipe now.
Fine Semolina (Pheni Rava/Suji/Bombay Rava/Farina) – 1 cup (Or substitute with All purpose flour, check recipe here)
Ghee – 2 Tbsp
Rice flour – 1 Tbsp
Salt – a pinch
Water – as required to knead the dough (about 1/4 cup)
Oil plus 1 Tbsp Ghee – for deep frying
Note: Fine semolina is usually available in all the Indian grocery stores. It is sometimes also called Farina. But if it is not available, dry roast the normal rava until aromatic. Cool to room temperature and grind it in your mixer grinder until you see smaller grains. You can use this for making the Pheni. If you are using All purpose flour, please check my Surul Puri recipe and follow that. Just change the driection while rolling out the final puris.
- Combine the rava, salt and 1 Tbsp ghee (not melted ghee, use solidified ghee only) in a mixing bowl. Mix evenly with your hands until it forms a crumbly mixture.
- Add the water gradually, and make a very soft (not sticky) and pliable dough. The dough must be softer than chapatti dough. Cover the dough with a plastic wrap or wet cloth and rest at least for an hour. The more the resting time, the better.
- Mix the remaining 1 Tbsp of ghee and the rice flour in a small bowl. Use ghee in a solid state. If yours is in a liquid form, refrigerate it for some time and then use.
- Make 5 portions of the dough. Roll out each dough ball into a circle, as large and as thin as possible (without tearing). Keep aside.
- After you have rolled out all the 5 circles, take one circle and place it on your work surface. Liberally apply the rice flour-ghee paste on the surface of the circle, making sure you have not let out any area. Place another circle on top of this surface so that it forms a concentric circle. Then spread the top of the second circle also with the rice flour-ghee paste. Then place the third circle on top of this. Repeat the process until you have placed the last circle. Spread some rice flour-ghee paste on top of that also.
- Then roll the circles into a tight log. Cut this log into 1 inch pieces. Flatten the discs and roll out each piece into a 4-5 inch circle. Keep these circles covered with a damp cloth until you are ready to fry them.
- Heat oil for deep frying on low-medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp of ghee to this oil (so you don’t miss on the ghee flavor!)
- Deep fry the puri’s one at a time. The puri’s will retain their light color eve when they are done. So keep an eye and do not let the puri’s get brown. Drain the puri’s on paper towels. Cool to room temperature and store in a airtight container until ready to serve.
Tip: Generally when you are deep frying something, there is an easy indication to decide if you have fried enough. Observe the bubbles around the food you are frying. They are maximum as soon as you drop in the food and gradually reduce. When the bubbles have almost subsided, your food is done. This is a general rule of thumb and is true in most cases.
Badam (Almond) Milk
Milk – 4 cups (about a liter)
Almonds (raw, not roasted/salted) – 20-25
Sugar – 3/4 cup
Saffron – a few threads
Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp
- Soak the saffron in a couple of Tbsp of hot milk.
- Soak the almonds in warm water for 30 minutes. Then peel the almonds and grind them into a very smooth paste using either water or milk. Keep aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the milk on low-medium heat. Once the milk comes to a boil, add the almond paste and cook on low for 10-15 minutes. Add in the saffron milk and cook for another 10 minutes, taking care not to burn the milk. Keep stirring often. Then remove from heat and add in the cardamom powder.
Badam milk is served warm with Pathir Pheni.
Sprinkle some powdered sugar on the pheni and sprinkle some nuts if you would like to. Soak the Pheni in the warm badam milk for 15-20 minutes and then serve.
Alternative serving suggestions: Sprinkle the hot phenis with powdered sugar or dunk them in some sugar syrup.