This Chhuaaray dessert ( pronounced: chhoo-aahh-ray) is a specialty of the Siraiki people of South Punjab and a very traditional thing to make. I learned this recipe from my sister-in-law and I swear it is addictive, I prove my point by making this every year. Chhuaara is the urdu name for dried dates. Now these little things are nutritional powerhouses are loaded with dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron and B-complex vitamins, and low in fat, cholesterol and sodium. Succulent, delicious, extremely rich and creamy, these are made as part of a traditional Eid breakfast.
- 1/2 kg chhuaray/ dried dates washed and cleaned
- Almonds for filling the dried dates (optional)
- Crushed pistachios or almonds for garnish
- 1-2 green cardamom pods
- 2 1/2 liters whole milk
- 10 cups water
- Wash and scrub all the dates to remove dirt until clean.
- Fill a big bowl with water and soak the chuuaray/dried dates overnight.
- If you see the dry dates have absorbed all the water by next morning you can add more. There should be enough water that they are submerged completely with an inch or two above the dried dates.
- After almost 24 hours the dates will have softened and swelled up. Take them out but make sure to save the water. Do not throw this out, we are going to use this for cooking later.
- Using a small sharp knife slice lengthwise into the date. When you hit the pit pull open the date and remove the pit, the date should retain its shape. Do this for all of the dates.
- Fill the dates with almonds. You can skip this step if you are not a fan of almonds.
- Toss the almond filled beauties into a large pan. Fill it up with the water that we saved from before. Leave some water at the bottom as this might have some dirt or particles.
- Crush the cardamom pods a little bit ,I usually just do it with the flat side of my knife, toss them in the pan too.
- Cover and let these cook on low heat. This might take about 1-2 hours. The time may vary depending on the kind of dates you are using.
- Add milk once the water is reduced to about one cup.
- Try to avoid mixing them with a spoon too much, we want the dates to retain heir shape.
- Turn the heat up to a medium and cook until the milk is reduced to half. It will have a bit of a granular texture like khoya.
- Take it out in a serving bowl and garnish with almonds/pistachios.
- This is usually served cold but you can eat them at room temperature.
- Keep refrigerated.
Tips & Tricks:
- If you are in a rush you can use evaporated milk instead. Just add and cook a little bit until you see the granular texture.
This dessert is very different from the other traditional Pakistani desserts, both in taste and texture. It is very unique and really delicious; my Eid does not start (gastronomically speaking) till I have had a bite of the Chhuara Special. I hope everyone has a blessed Eid; EID MUBARAK!!
Aa jao special “chhuaray” tayyar hain !!!!