The Peda is an Indian sweet of North Indian origin but is popular all over the country. It is made by reducing milk to its milk solids and then cooking it with sugar into a soft dough like consistency and then shaped into small slightly flat rounds. Pedas, a sweet with a soft fudge-like consistency are usually flavoured with cardamom and other ingredients like saffron, chopped nuts, etc depending on the type of Peda.
There are a huge variety of Pedas made in India, and they can range from white to cream through brown in colour. Depending on the variety they may be decorated differently, and sometimes are also stamped with special stamping tools to create a pattern on the top. In Taste, they’re quite “milky” and range from barely there sweetness to tooth tingling sweet.
It is believed that the Peda had its origin in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh where the Mathura Peda in particular, a caramel coloured melt-in-your-mouth variety of the sweet, is very famous. Others believe the Peda was first made in Gujarat where there’s a history of making Pedas that goes back to the late 19th century.
Other very famous varieties of the Peda include the Dharwad Peda brought to Dharwad in Karnataka by Ram Ratan Singh Thakur when his family migrated from Uttar Pradesh, the Lal/ Red Peda from Varanasi where the milk solids are cooked till reddish brown and the Pedas are dusted with semolina and chopped pistachios, the Satara Kandhi Peda from the Indian state of Maharashtra and inspired by the Mathura Peda, the Rajkot Peda mde with just milk and sugar, and the South Indian Atcor Makkan Peda which is filled with chopped dried fruit and nuts and then deep fried and soaked in sugar syrup!
The Peda has even travelled beyond Indian borders and can be found in Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan where it is called Badayuni Pera. These are just a few examples of Pedas and there are at least a couple of hundred more varieties found along the length and breadth of the country.
In Hinduism, sweets made of milk have long been used as “Prasad” or offerings to God during “Puja” and are then distributed among the devotees. I my part of the country, we don’t traditionally make Pedas, but I doubt if there’s anyone who doesn’t know what this sweet is. I’ve never tried making Pedas at home for some reason, and right now with Diwali here seems as good a time as any to make a start.
As I’m running short on time with lots of other stuff to see to, I’ve decided to use a shortcut method of making Pedas. I had wanted to post this recipe a few days back demands on my time meant I’m posting it today instead.
So instead of spending the time which I don’t’ have to spare right now, boiling and reducing milk down to milk solids, I’m using sweetened condensed milk and powdered milk. I would suggest avoiding skimmed powdered milk because that extra fat in whole powdered milk makes all the difference in taste. All it takes is about 5 to 10 minutes on the stove and the mixture is ready to be shaped into Pedas.