Vasanu – A Parsi Winter Delight

Extracts originally published on India Food Network

My heart was thudding in my chest. My fingers sweating around the ball of Vasanu mom had just given me. She expected me to have the entire thing before I left for school. As soon as she turned the corner towards the kitchen, I escaped to the bathroom and promptly flushed the Vasanu down the loo. My cheeks flamed with shame at what I had just done but I simply couldn’t stomach one more day of having it.

Vasanu_1

Even though I prided myself on my honest relationship with mum, I never admitted this to her until she was back in India for my wedding. It was Vasanu season and there she was again coercing me to have some – it was my wedding and I had to keep up my strength, whatever that meant! The image of a mini-me sneakily flushing Vasanu flashed in my mind and there I was, a grown 25-year-old woman confessing a 10-year-old crime. Laughing, mom urged me to give it another go.

Squeezing my eyes shut, I plonked it in my mouth. But, something magical happened as I swallowed this Parsi version of chyawanprash. I kept expecting to hate it but the ghee and dry fruits mixed with the heat of the ginger powder and other crushed herbs slowly melted in my mouth and I found myself smacking my lips in glee. It seems I had finally grown a liking to the Vasanu.

Vasanu_3

For the uninitiated, Vasanu is a complex winter preparation made of no less than a kilo of ghee, an assortment of dry fruits mixed in with the familiar dry ginger, lotus stem, dill and some rather strange things like magaz, peepremul and addad aata amongst others. Parsi’s look forward to Vasanu season with anticipation and given its endangered status, orders for kilos of Vasanu are given to those who make it weeks in advance.

I learnt how to make Vasanu with mom two years ago soon after I got married because the ones made at home always taste the best. Here’s my grandma’s recipe for how you can make Vasanu at home!

Note: Given the complexity of the dish I highly recommend removing all the ingredients and keeping them in one central location before you begin. Please also read through the recipe and separate out which ingredients go in which step as some require roasting and some don’t. Parsi spice shops like Motilal Masala and Gangar Stores will provide you all the ingredients powdered and pre-weighed if you give them a list of your requirements. 

Separating Ingredients for Vasanu

Pit the dates, combine with 1 litre milk and heat it on the stove on slow heat – the milk must not boil over as this will ruin your Vasanu later. When the dates become soft and absorb most of the milk, blend to form a smooth mix.

Pitting Dates for Vasanu

Dates in Milk for Vasanu

4. Date-Milk Mixture

Simultaneously, boil and skin the almonds and slice finely

Blanched Almonds for Vasanu
You also need to make a sugar syrup using using the sugar and 300mls water. This must be gently heated to create a single string syrup. What this means is that when you take a spoonful of the syrup and drop it, it falls in a single continuous string.
 Sugar Syrup for Vasanu
Next, in a big pan, add ghee and fry 200gm of the Gundar. Set aside.
Fry Gundar for Vasanu
Add some more ghee, and fry all dry fruits separately one by one. Remove dry fruits. Remove all the ghee and keep it aside. You are now onto the main part!
Fried Dry Fruits for Vasanu
In the same vessel, add about 1/4 of the ghee and fry the Ghau Nu Doodh, Singoda, Addad no Aato, Kammar Kakdi and Gokhru. Keep adding ghee to ensure things don’t burn or turn clumpy. This entire process should be made on extremely low heat – the slower the better!
9. Add Stage 1 ingredients
Mix Vasanu flours until Smooth
Once the mixture above is well roasted, add the Magaj, Khas Khas, Khaman, Batrisu, Pipramool, Safed Musli, Panjabi Salan, Kali Musli and Peeper. Once again roast well and add ghee as required to make this a smooth mixture.
11. Add Stage 2 ingredients
Your Vasanu is well on the way now. Next you need to add the sugar syrup, the date-milk mixture and the gundar you had fried previously one at a time. Mix everything well and add some more ghee.
Add Sugar Syrup into Vasanu Mix
Add Date-Milk into Vasanu Mix
Add Gundar into Vasanu Mix
Finally, you have to add it the last few ingredients, the Soonth, Safed Mari, Suva, Elaichi and Jaifal. Also, add in 1/2 the dry fruits and mix well.
Add Half Dry Fruits to Vasanu
Keep stirring till ghee leaves side of vessel. Switch off the gas – portion into boxes and cool completely
Mix and Cool the Vasanu
Top each box with generous servings of dry fruits
Cool and Garnish Vasanu
Unless you live in a very cool climate, I recommend storing the Vasanu in a refrigerator until you are ready to consume it. Remove one box at a time and this can be kept outside at room temperature. Take care to ensure a wet spoon is never left in the box. The refrigerated Vasanu will last a month.
Vasanu_4

To make about 5kg Vasanu you will need:

Dry Fruits:
300gm Almonds
700gm Dates
250gm Cashews
200gm Charoli
100gm Pistachio

For the Sugar Syrup:
1000gm Sugar
300ml Water

Dry Ingredients:

Stage 1:
200gm Gundar

Stage 2:
150gm Ghau Nu Doodh
200gm Singoda
150gm Addad no Aato
100gm Kammar Kakdi
50gm Gokhru

Stage 3:
200gm Magaj
50gm Khas Khas
100gm Khaman
50gm Batrisu
10gm Pipramool
10gm Safed Musli
5gm Panjabi Salan
10gm Kali Musli
5gm Peeper

Stage 4:
300 gm Sooth (Sooth makes your Vasanu spicy and heavy. You can reduce it to 250gm if you wish)
10gm Safed Mari
100gm Suva
10gm Elaichi
1 no Jaifal (powdered)
Additional Ingredients:
1.25 kg Ghee
1 litre Milk

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Comments

  1. says

    I bow to thee. Baap re I have so far never mustered the courage to make Vasanu. Me and the Internet are forever grateful to you to post this endangered recipe.

    • says

      Shweta, the recipe is long I agree but the results are well worth it and it makes a huge batch which will last you and the family the entire winter. This is something that can only be made in winters as that’s the only time the ingredients are available so I hope you’ll give it a go next time.

  2. Khushrao Irani says

    Awesome! Tried it n turned out to be awesome. Request you to provide the cooking time n quantity of each product. Thanks for the recipe. It was of huge help… Perfect😀

  3. Zenobia Fulwadiwala says

    Thank you Perzen for sharing this lovely recipe I made it and it became mind-blowing n sooo yammy and distributed to my family members.

  4. Perviz Tarapore says

    My vasanu was a hit this year thanks to your recipie. Enjoyed by all in our family. Thank you.

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