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How To Make Prashad

October 18, 2018
by the gentle author

To celebrate publication day for the very first London Sikh biography, A MODEST LIVING, MEMOIRS OF A COCKNEY SIKH by Suresh Singh, we are making prashad – the Sikh holy sweet – and two other delicious Punjabi recipes.

In the book, Suresh Singh’s chapters of biography are alternated with Jagir Kaur’s traditional recipes from the Punjab, as cooked in Spitalfields over the last seventy years at 38 Princelet St.

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Prashad is made using butter, semolina, sugar, and water – four simple ingredients. Dad used to make this ‘gracious gift’ and we still make it today. It is always given out at gurdwaras whenever Sikhs gather, served to everyone irrespective of rank or caste. The offering must be served with and accepted with hands only. At 38 Princelet St, Dad said we could use plates. Before anyone eats, five portions of prashad representing each of the five beloved gurus, are taken out of the bowl and laid aside. Dad used to make us put these into the fire.

Traditionally, the person receiving prashad must be seated or low on the ground to humbly accept the offering with two hands. Both the person giving and the one receiving the offering should try to cover their heads. (At home, we used to have to run off to find something to cover ours.)

Makes about twenty portions

1 cup ghee or unsalted butter
1 cup coarse semolina
1 cup sugar
3 cups water

Add the sugar to the water in a pot and bring to the boil.

In another pan, melt the ghee or unsalted butter.

When the butter is melted, add the semolina to the melted butter and stir the mixture continuously to lightly toast the flour.

Continue stirring the flour and butter mixture while the sugar and water mixture boils to make a light syrup. The butter will separate from the toasted flour, turning a deep golden colour and emanating a godly aroma.

Pour the boiling sugar syrup into the toasted flour and butter, mixing it with a wooden spoon. Stir rapidly until the water is absorbed. Keep stirring the prashad as it thickens into a firm mix.

The prashad is ready when it slides easily from the pan into a bowl. We like serving each portion with a few raisins and then the blessing is complete.

Sarson Da Saag is served in gurdwaras. Dad and all the family loved it because it is a distinctively Punjabi recipe and a glorious green colour. Yellow rotis are traditionally eaten with this dish.

Makes about twenty generous portions

FOR THE VEGETABLE BASE

4 bunches of saag (mustard leaves) 2 bunches of spinach
1 bunch of bathua (pigweed)
2 bunches of methi ( fenugreek)
1 leek
1 bunch of large spring onions, cleaned and chopped 1 bulb of garlic, (about 6–8 cloves) peeled, not chopped

FOR THE CARAMELISED ONION MIXTURE

mustard oil
butter/ghee
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 bulb of garlic (about 6–8 cloves), finely chopped 8–10 green chillies, finely chopped
salt
3 inch piece of ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 cup makki atta (corn flour)

Wash and finely chop the mustard and spinach leaves, piling them into a large pot. Add the chopped onions and the whole garlic cloves. Add one litre of hot water to the greens and bring to a boil. Simmer for about half an hour until tender.

Meanwhile, in a smaller pan, add the onions, then the mustard oil, butter/ghee, garlic, ginger, green chilli and cumin seeds. Cook until the onions are caramelised and the mixture turns a golden brown (when I was young, the National Front used to beat me up for smelling of caramelised onion).

Add the onion mixture to the large pot with the greens and mix well together. Add the makki atta gradually, mixing thoroughly.

When everything is combined, blend the whole mixture in a blender, being careful not to make it too mushy and leaving some of the texture intact. Once the mixture is blended, simmer for another fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve with yellow rotis.

Kahdi – this Punjabi gurdwara yogurt fills you up. Turmeric gives it a beautiful yellow colour. When asked, I always say that this is our curry. The lovely thing about our yogurt is that you can add as many vegetables as you please to it.

Makes about twenty generous portions

FOR THE BASE

400g full fat yogurt
3–3.5 litres of hot water
1 cup besan flour (gram/chickpea flour) 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder
75g butter

FOR THE CARAMELISED ONION MIXTURE

butter/ghee or mustard oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, diced
1 can of tomatoes
1 whole bulb of garlic, finely chopped
7 green chillies, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of salt
1 pinch Hing-Asafoetida
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
3 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
5 curry leaves, rinse them under water if you use dried ones
1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

First make the base. In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, turmeric, besan flour and butter. Gradually add the water – do this slowly and mix well to make sure there are no lumps.

Pour this mixture into a large pot on a medium heat and bring to a boil. You need to stir the mixture all the time (I used to love doing this job for my mum). If you do not stir the mixture continuously, it will become lumpy and stick to the bottom of the pot. Once the mixture has come to the boil, reduce the heat. The base mixture must simmer for about two hours, and you need keep stirring it regularly.

To make the caramelised onion mixture, cook all the ingredients in the butter/ghee or mustard oil until golden brown.

Once the base mixture has been simmering for about two hours, add the caramelised onion mixture and simmer, stirring occasionally, for another fifteen minutes.

For added flavour, you can sprinkle some Garam Masala on top. Jagir uses a teaspoon each of jeera (cumin), coriander seeds, cardamom seeds, green cardamon, sunth (dried ginger powder), and two whole cloves of garlic, one cinnamon stick and three black peppercorns. She mixes and grinds this all together.

Suresh Singh & Jagir Kaur at 38 Princelet St this summer

Photographs copyright © Patricia Niven

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Click here to order a signed copy of A MODEST LIVING for £20

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Suresh Singh will be in conversation with Stefan Dickers at the Write Idea Festival at the Whitechapel Idea Store on Saturday November 17th at 1pm. CLICK HERE TO BOOK A FREE TICKET

5 Responses leave one →
  1. October 18, 2018

    It’s early in the morning, but the recipes have made me hungry. I’m sure I could smell the butter and herbs all the way from Spitalfields …. Thanks for sharing! Valerie

  2. Jill Wilson permalink
    October 18, 2018

    Looks yummy! Good luck with the book…

  3. Emily Johnson permalink
    October 20, 2018

    This sounds absolutely wonderful.

  4. Ben Schofield permalink
    October 20, 2018

    My copy of the book arrived this morning. It’s gorgeous with lovely photographs. It’s a real insight into a life well lived. Thank you Suresh.

  5. Lesley permalink
    August 22, 2019

    What a lovely lady. Wish I still lived inLondon I would definitely go to the Bancroft Road talk in Mile End. All the very best.

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