No Eid table or trolley is complete without a bowl of delicious seviyyaan, fine vermicelli cooked in sweetened milk. In fact, seviyyaan is the official traditional sweet dish of Eid-ul-Fitr also known as meethi (sweet) Eid, served as breakfast in every home first thing in the morning of the first day of Eid, to mark the commencement of festivities after Eid prayers.

There are many varieties of seviyyaan, such as sheer khurma, qiwami, zafrani, seviyyaan kheer and badami kewra seviyyaan. At the end of the three days of Eid, guests manage to sample almost all varieties at the several homes they visit.

The magic of seviyyaan is that most of the different versions have almost the same ingredients: vermicelli, milk, ghee (clarified butter), cardamom, dry fruit and sugar as staples, and condensed milk, khoya, rose water and saffron as optional.

Cooking and eating seviyyaan is an indispensable part of Eid festivities — and one can’t get enough of this Eid dessert   SHEER KHURMA

Sheer khurma is a decadent version of seviyyaan loaded with thick, creamy milk and khoya; rich with dried fruits and nuts such as dates, raisins, coconut, pistachios, and almonds; and delicately flavored with cardamom, saffron and rose water.  

The thickness, sweetness, and serving temperature of sheer khurma — chilled or hot, thick or not — is a personal preference.   INGREDIENTS

1 cup vermicelli, crushed
1 litre full cream milk
1 can condensed milk
1/2 cup khoya, crumbled
1-2 pods green cardamom, crushed
1 pinch saffron strands, soaked
1 teaspoon rose water
½ cup almonds, soaked, skinned, and slivered
½ cup pistachios, soaked, skinned, and slivered
¼ cup golden raisins
1 cup dried coconut flakes
6-7 dried dates, deseeded, soaked and slivered
4 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
Desi ghee as needed
  METHOD

In a sauce pan, put one crushed cardamom into milk and bring to boil, then lower the flame and let it keep cooking for another 10 to 20 minutes while the rest of the procedure is underway. In a frying pan, lightly toast the nuts, raisins, coconut and dates separately till they release their fragrance and their oils. Add the toasted dates to the boiling milk to soften them further.

Now heat some ghee and stir-fry a crushed cardamom in it. Add the vermicelli and stir-fry on medium flame till it darkens slightly. Add this carefully into the hot milk, avoiding any splatters.

Add the sugar and condensed milk and stir it into the cooking milk till it dissolves. Add the rose water, saffron strands and khoya, stir, and turn off the flame. Stir in the toasted nuts, cover the lid for a few minutes to let these ingredients emulsify in the steam, and then serve piping hot or chilled as desired.

QIWAMI SEVIYYAAN

Qiwami seviyyaan is a classic Lucknavi recipe, and since keeping recipes and flavours authentic to uphold culinary traditions is an integral part of the rich Lucknavi heritage, you can be sure these seviyyaan will become one of your favourites. This recipe uses saffron, khoya and condensed milk for a delicately rich and creamy flavour. The seviyyaan are kept dry and cooked with a minimum amount of milk and syrup. Again, the sweetness of qiwami (sheera or syrupy) seviyyaan should be adjusted according to personal preference.     INGREDIENTS

2 cups vermicelli, crushed                   
3 cups full cream milk
1 cup condensed milk
½ cup khoya, crumbled
3 pods green cardamom, crushed
1 pinch saffron strands, soaked
1 teaspoon rose water
¼ teaspoon orange food colouring (zardai rang)
¼ cup almonds, soaked, skinned, and slivered
¼ cup pistachios, soaked, skinned, and slivered
Desi ghee as needed

For the sugar syrup
1 ½ cup water
2 cups sugar
1 pod green cardamom, crushed
  METHOD

In a pan, heat two cups of water, add sugar and green cardamom and boil until a thick syrup forms. Set aside. In another pan, heat ghee and stir-fry the green cardamom till it becomes aromatic. Add vermicelli and stir-fry till it darkens slightly. Set aside.

Heat the milk in a pan. Add the condensed milk and khoya and cook till the mixture thickens. Add this thickened milk to the prepared sugar syrup, with saffron, food colouring and rose water.  

Pour in enough of this mixture into the fried seviyyaan so that the seviyyaan can cook through to a dry texture, without becoming too gooey. Start with a high flame to bring it to boil, and when it starts to bubble, turn the flame to low and cover with a lid, until the seviyyaan are cooked completely and no liquid remains. The seviyyaan should become dry, not soggy or mushy.

Garnish with the nuts and serve warm.  

MEETHI SEVIYYAAN

Meethi seviyyaan are sugar-syrup based and don’t use use milk. The beauty of meethi seviyyaan is in its simplicity: crispy fried vermicelli, sweet syrup and a generous amount of khoya for a delicious treat.   INGREDIENTS:

2 cups vermicelli, crushed                   
1 ½ cup khoya, crumbled
1 pinch saffron strands, soaked
¼ cup almonds, soaked, skinned, and slivered
¼ cup pistachios, soaked, skinned, and slivered
desi ghee as needed

For the sugar syrup
1 ½ cup water
2 cups sugar
1 pod green cardamom, crushed
  METHOD

Prepare sugar syrup by cooking sugar (and green cardamom for fragrance) in water till the sugar dissolves completely and becomes a thick syrup. While it is still warm, sprinkle the crumbled khoya in the syrup, add a few strands of pre-soaked saffron, and stir. Pour into a serving bowl and set aside.

Heat ghee in a wok and deep fry the seviyyaan till they become crispy. Drain excess ghee. Add the crispy fried seviyyaan into the khoya-syrup, folding in some and leaving some atop, for a soft-crispy texture.

Garnish with more khoya and nuts. Serve hot or cold. While eating these seviyyaan piping hot is a delight, waking up the next morning in anticipation of eating chilled left over seviyyaan is a pleasure of its own kind.

Published in Dawn, EOS, June 2nd, 2019