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This Diwali, Leave the G**, Take the Cannoli, the Therattipaal Cannoli

When you read through Rachel Laudan's book 'Cuisine and Empire' :Cooking in World Historyone of the things (or lack thereof) that strikes you, -- especially hard if you are a South Indian -- is that despite being the Ground Zero for spices, South Indian cuisine simply does not get mentioned as a world cuisine. The culinary narrative stops geographically at Goa before sailing off towards the Phillipines and on to South America as part of the Catholic trade route.

And with this historical trade route, one particular dish traveled halfway across the world and became entrenched as a signature dish from Latin America - Its Spanish moniker is Dulce de Leche, but its original ancestral version is still revered as a signature dish amongst the South Indian communities. Its none other than the iconic 'Theratti Paal'.

Its a classic 2 ingredient dessert. All you need is good quality whole milk and some sugar. And plenty of time and a consistent low heat source to cook it.

It took me close to 4 years to actually get this dish plated and devoured. I bought the cannoli pipes (used to make traditional Cannoli shells) way back in 2011. It wasn't until last year that I mustered up the courage to try and make the dessert. Learned 2 important points. 1. It isn't as easy as simply stuffing the therattipaal directly into the cannoli shells. Authentic Cannoli filling has a light whipped texture. 2. Store bought cannoli shells simply do not work. they contain eggs and Vanilla, and these flavors do not harmonize well with the caramelized flavor that is the signature of the South Indian classic.

Therattipaal Cannoli (Cannoli with a classic South Indian Dulce de Leche filling)

You need: (For the Therattipaal)

  • 1/2 Gallon whole milk (brownie points if you can get hold of the creamy top variety)
  • 1/2 - 2/3 cups sugar

Heat the milk in a heavy pan, making sure you keep stirring until it reaches a boil. Lower the heat to just above a simmer level and allow the milk to evaporate to about 1 /5 of its original volume. Keep peeling off the creamy skin that forms over the surface and stir it back into the liquid. Once it has reduced to a fifth of the original volume, stir in the sugar. Increase the heat slightly, keep stirring until all the moisture evaporates, leaving behind a thick caramelized blob of flaky sweetened milk solids. 

Store in a refrigerator.

Cannoli shells

You need:

  • 2 cups All purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered cardamom
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar.
  •  water for kneading
  • Oil for frying.

Combine all the ingredients together and knead into a soft pliable dough. Pinch off marble sized bits of dough and roll into a thin (and I mean really thin) circle. Using a fork, stab holes evenly on the surface. Cut out a circle using a 3 inch circular cookie cutter. Moisten a small arc at the edge of the disk, where the two opposite sides of the dough will be sealed. Wrap the disk around the cannoli tube and seal the edges as shown.

Fry the dough (along with the cannoli tubes) until they  turn golden brown. Carefully remove the fried cannoli shells from the oil onto kitchen towels. Wait for the tubes to completely cool before sliding the shells off. 

Store in an airtight tin until required.

For the Filling:

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 1/2 cup confectioner's (Icing) sugar
  • 1 cup prepared therattipaal
  • Strands of saffron, crushed

Combine the chilled heavy whipping cream, saffron and icing sugar, using a hand blender whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks. 

Add in the  Therattipaal in batches incorporating it into the whipped cream, Sample as you go to determine the level of sweetness and flavor as per your personal preference.

 Fill the cream into a piping bag fitted with a broad nozzle tip and pipe in the cream into the cannoli shells.

Dust with Icing sugar and serve with a cup of hot filter coffee.

Here are some links to my other Diwali favorites (which in turn have links to more Diwali specials)

Lehiyam Truffles

Baked Granola Chivda

Okkarai bars

Hazelnut and Almond Barfi

Wishing all my readers a happy Diwali and prosperous Year ahead.

Bon Appetit!


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