Presented by: Ahmad Nawaz, from Redmond
Saba Nighat is a friend who originally hails from Pakistan but now is in Geneva, Switzerland. Since she’s a great cook, I thought, “Who better to ask than her for a potato recipe?” She came up with this unusual potato dessert.
- Boiling potatoes with their jackets (skins) takes a lot longer than when they’re peeled and cubed but the former method will retain more of the flavor and nutrients.
- Do not try to hurry any of the steps that require application of heat by increasing the heat beyond what is recommended—it will get burnt and won’t turn out as expected.
- If you want to slice pistachios yourself, soak the shelled and skinned pistachios in lukewarm water for 5 to 6 hours. Then use a potato peeler to make slices: In one hand hold the pistachio and peel off layer by layer with the other hand using the peeler. Or if you are good with a knife use a cutting board and the knife.
- I prefer using Yukon gold potatoes if available or some type of white potatoes of medium size—these are well suited for this type of recipe. Choose potatoes that feel heavy and firm. Totally unblemished potatoes are hard to find but do avoid any that have soft spots, sprouting eyes, or dark or green discoloration.
Serves 4 to 5 (yields 10 ounces)
- 9 ounces (260 grams) potatoes, preferably Yukon gold or other white potato if available
- 1/2 cup milk (preferably whole)
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white cane sugar
- 3 tablespoons salted butter (I use Challenge European-Style butter)
- 3 whole green cardamom pods
- 3 strands good quality saffron
- 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
- 1 tablespoon peeled and sliced (or roughly chopped) pistachios
Brush and wash potatoes with a potato brush and then boil in saucepan until totally tender and cooked through. To test, pierce a knife through the middle of the potato to see if it is impaled effortlessly.
In the meantime put the cardamom pods in a spice grinder and grind well to powder consistency. Then add the sugar to the grinder and grind again while holding the grinder securely and giving it a few shakes, about 15 seconds. Set aside.
Take a mortar and pestle and dampen it with a drop or two of the milk. Now add the saffron and grind really well until the saffron is completely broken up.
Pour some of the pre-measured milk into the mortar. Incorporate the saffron into the milk with the pestle and transfer to a microwave safe cup. Add the remaining milk and microwave for 20 seconds. Stir and set aside.
Peel potatoes and mash them well using the potato masher. Transfer the mashed potatoes to a heavy-based pot and add the saffron-milk mixture. Put on medium-high heat. Using the rubber spatula continuously blend the mixture in a ‘mashing’ motion. After a couple of minutes turn the heat to medium and continue to stir and cook for another 8 minutes or until the milk is totally incorporated and the mixture feels creamy (just like a mashed potato dish). Remove the pot from the heat source.
Put a non-stick pan on the same burner on medium heat and put in the butter. Add the potatoes after a few seconds and then the sugar-cardamom mixture. Using the same mashing motion continuously stir the contents. This step takes 15 minutes. You know it is done when: (a) While ‘folding’ the Halwa, the mixture comes together and lifts cleanly off the base of the pan. (b) You should be able to stand a fork in the center of the Halwa when it is gathered together at the center of the pan. (c) It looks silky and shiny.
Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with the pistachios and almonds. Serve warm.