Shivratri is soon approaching and I know this recipe couldn’t come at a better time for many of you. Peera/pera is a variation of an Indian milk sweet known as Peda. I say variation, because the version I’ve seen made in Guyanese homes is different than a traditional Peda recipe. The version I grew up eating consists of evaporated milk and sugar that has been reduced down to a taffy like texture then rolled into balls. It is slightly hard and chewy and once you get it into your mouth and start swirling it around, the milky-sugary flavor and texture just falls apart and takes you over, well it takes me over at least. These little delicacies were typically served in a paper bag alongside other sweets like parsad and mithai after the commencement of a religious ceremony.
The one benefit to all this is using evaporated milk. Evaporated milk has already been concentrated so that means less boiling as compared to starting the process with whole milk. I know back in my grandmother’s time, they made peera from cows milk and had to boil it and boil it for hours to reduce. If making peera with concentrated milk is exhausting, can you imagine whole milk? Well neither can I, but my good friend and journalist, Cynthia Nelson can tell you all about it in her detailed post on peera and her adventure with making it from scratch using whole milk, if you’re interested (and you should be) take a read here.
You’ll need 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg and cinnamon, 1 1/4 cup white granulated sugar, and one 12oz tin of evaporated milk.
Pour milk, sugar, and spices into a cast iron or stainless steel pot. Give it a stir and heat on medium-low heat for about an hour and fifteen minutes. In the meantime grab a plate or tray to place peera in after it’s done, a glass of ice water, and a small spoon, set aside for later.
Let mixture boil for an hour on medium-low heat. Stir every now and then, always making sure to scrape spices down from edges of pot. When the color starts to become golden and the texture becomes like pancake syrup, turn heat to low.
Around an hour and a half mixture should be thick like molasses, keep turning mixture to keep from scorching. Scrape sides down frequently so sugar does not build up. When mixture begins to look thick like cake batter, do not leave the stove, keep turning. The edges of the pot will begin to look dry and white. Remove mixture from heat, tilt the pot and beat mixture until the texture becomes like frosting or taffy.
Rub some ice cold water between both palms, roll about a teaspoon of peera mixture to form a ball, place in plate or tray, and press down slightly with your finger to make an indent. The cold water will help to keep your palms from scorching, keep the peera mixture from sticking to your skin, and will also help to make the peera smooth. Let peera dry for an hour or so, then enjoy!
- 1 12oz tin evaporated milk
- 1 tin white sugar (using the same evaporated milk tin as a measuring unit- this is actually 1 3/4 cup sugar)`
- See recipe below