Go to any Parsi household on a Sagan, auspicious day you will always find a big bowl of Sev or vermicelli at the table. Thanks to my Parsi friend, for inviting me to lunch and specially making this nutty sweet Sev. She reminisced how her mother always made Sev for birthdays or Sagan and garnished it with plenty of pistachios, raisins and almonds. ‘Bananas and mithoo dahi, sweet yoghurt was served too’ she added.
Iranians (Persians) were involved in trade with India since many centuries. The Parsi from Iran seeking refuge from the Islamic invasion landed in Gujarat, India. Their Zoroastrian faith shared much in common with that of the Hindus. On arrival in Gujarat, Jadi Rana the local ruler refused them entry and sanctuary to these warrior-like people. But soon the priests convinced the ruler that the Parsi would be ‘like sugar in a full cup of milk, adding sweetness but not causing it to overflow.’ Jadi Rana ordered them to adopt the local dress, customs and adapt the cuisine to blend with the Gujrati locals.
Though the Parsi prefered meat and fish they gradually incorporated local cereals, pulses and masalas into their cuisine. However the Persian ingredients of apricots, pistachios and nuts remained a favourite and a distinct reminder of their origins.
Dessert Recipe: Sagan ni Sev
Be liberal with ghee, and have plenty of patience while cooking!
1 packet thin vermicelli
5-8 spoons of pure Ghee (clarified butter)
water as needed
Sugar 5-8 tsps. or suit your taste
For garnish: saffron strands, pistachios, almond flakes, raisins.
Nutmeg and cardamom powder (jaiphal and elaichi)
Crush the vermicelli lightly, leaving medium long strands and keep aside. It will shorten while roasting. Put a big pan on the stove, put 4-5 spoons of ghee and melt it. Add the nuts mixture, roast lightly. The aroma soon fills the kitchen space:). Keep a small amount aside for garnish.
Now add the crushed vermicelli and roast lightly, adding a dollop of ghee again. Sprinkle over some sugar, the Sev gets a dark colour due caramelized sugar.
Sprinkle few drops of water, just enough to wet the mixture. Caution! too much water will make a ‘londho’ or lump! Keep stirring to even out the mixture. Cover for few minutes.
Remove cover, add another dollop of ghee and the Sev is now ready cooked and lightly crisp. Add the cardamom and nutmeg powder. Garnish with nuts mixture. Remove in a decorative plate.
Serve warm. Enjoy the distinct Persian flavour while narrating the ‘Quessa e Sanjan’ and Jadi Rana’s story, just like my friend did.
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