Makhan Malai is a famous winter sweet it has layers of light foam covered with sweet, fresh mawa and snow-like sugar, sprinkled with a generous layer of slivers of pistachio and almonds, a dash of saffron strands. Its airy, sweet, fluffy, and cloud-like consistency makes it disappear in your mouth in no time. When the bite hits your tongue it gives creamy frost with a crunch of nuts with a hint of savory scent from the saffron.
Makhan Malai is a popular winter delight that melts in a mouth. The cottony pile is scooped out delicately and topped off with sugar, green cardamom, almond flakes, and pistachios. In some places sprinkling of khoya adds to the texture & gives a different dimension to the dish. It is then embellished with silver leaf as a final touch. One bite of this rich, creamy, silken magic of makhan malai takes you to childhood, immediately reminiscing the days you would wait for the makhan malai wala to come on his cart with vats full of your favorite winter delicacy.
Makhan Malai is a delicacy of Uttar Pradesh especially in cities of Kanpur, Varanasi, and Lucknow which reflects the diversity in its culture. Makhan Malai is as old as the British rule in India. It is also known by many names like Makhan Malai, Faag, Malaiyo, Nimish, and Daulat ki Chaat. In Delhi, it is popularly known as Daulat ki Chaat because it has the sweet-savory-nutty taste that this dessert has, which if you look carefully is the innate nature of most chaats across India. It has a richness about the foam and the interesting sweet-savory balance that is magical.
How Makhan Malai Is Made?
The makhan malai is made with an elaborate process that requires tenderness and patience. A rhythmic momentum is created by hands pulling across a primitive blender to churn out the makhan from the malai. In a huge sauce, pan milk is boiled over a stove that runs on cow dung cakes. It is then mixed with selective ingredients at the right temperature and once the mixture cools down completely it is filled in buckets and hung under the evening sky for six-eight hours.
Fresh milk cream is added to the boiled milk and it is boiled again. To add extra flavor, sugar, cardamom powder, saffron strands, and yellow food color are sprinkled over the portion. The final stage in the preparation of the winter dish is to let it simmer overnight so that all the ingredients blend in to give an explosion of flavors.
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The flavors that linger on give a glimpse of heaven, which we wish could be prolonged. It is one of the rejoice for the people in winter. It is a sweet which has good properties as it is low calorie and has less sugar which proves to be a boon for health-conscious people. It is served as an offering to Lord Krishna as its being their favorite food. Under the pale winters, hawkers wheel their carts into the shades of the city by-lanes. The forthy dessert is only available at the time of winter from November to January as in hot summers it will meltdown.
Story Of Makhan Malai
One story says that the makhan malai came from Kanpur during the making of Shahjahanabad when the emperor used to order food from nearby areas to feed the workers. This is where the royal family too could have got the taste of it, before Princess Jahanara, who designed the first resort at Chandni Chowk and the pleasure gardens made it a must-have during winters. The saffron touch, the addition of mawa and nuts very well could be a Mughal kitchen touch to this rustic butter dish, which was called Makhan Malai in UP even back then.
The other story of course is that the makhan malai is originated in the kitchens of Kanpur – Oudh back then – under Sadaat Ali Khan, who asked his Khansamas to create something spectacular for Prince Murad Baksh, and they created the Makhan Malai. Yet another legend is that the first iteration of the chaat existed in Muradabad, a city re-named after Emperor Akbar presented it to Prince Murad Baksh in 1625AD, thanks to the Afghani population there. It was under Prince Murad that the city began developing a cuisine that had the same taste and culinary brilliance but minus the richness of the Mughal court when makhan malai was invented.