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.
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.
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.
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.
Simultaneously, boil and skin the almonds and slice finely
To make about 5kg Vasanu you will need:
150gm Ghau Nu Doodh
150gm Addad no Aato
100gm Kammar Kakdi
50gm Khas Khas
10gm Safed Musli
5gm Panjabi Salan
10gm Kali Musli
300 gm Sooth (Sooth makes your Vasanu spicy and heavy. You can reduce it to 250gm if you wish)
10gm Safed Mari
1 no Jaifal (powdered)
1.25 kg Ghee
1 litre Milk