One of the most fascinating winter sweets of Kashi is the centuries – old palangtod that literally translates to bed breaker! Though the name makes one laugh out loud, its taste will definitely leave you speechless. Known to be an expensive sweet because of the time, effort and labour involved, this sweet has been given the title of ‘King of Sweets’ in Banaras.
Palangtod (also written as palang tod) is made from milk, kesar and sugar and is found only in the smaller sweet shops in the narrow lanes of Kashi. In the olden days, the abundance of milk in the Ghazipur and Varanasi districts and surrounding areas helped sweetmakers procure rich buffalo and cow milk, excellent khoa and delicious malai.
The age-old method involves boiling large quantities of buffalo and cow milk (80 percent and 20 percent in volume respectively) in an open vessel on wood fire in the early hours of the morning. As it simmers gently, a layer of cream forms over it. The layer formed is pushed away from the centre to the sides. The milk is stirred carefully without disturbing the creamy layer on the sides.
The cream that has been pushed aside begins to form distinctive layers. These layers are carefully collected throughout the day. These layers are laced with kesar, fresh soft malai and sugar syrup or powdered sugar. The process is repeated till the number of layers and desired thickness is achieved.
The sweet takes about 10 to 12 hours to make and is available only in the late evenings. It is topped off with a generous helping of finely chopped pistachios.
Palangtod is served in a kulhad and hot milk (kesar doodh) is poured into the same to soak up the remaining saffron. This delectable sweet is sold in large quantities during the auspicious occasions of Diwali and Holi and is not for the faint – hearted.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
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