"Food for me was a connecting link to my grandmother, to my childhood, to my past. And what I found out is that for everybody, food is a connector to their roots, to their past in different ways. It gives you security; it gives you a profile of who you are, where you come from." - Lidia Matticchio Bastianich
Parsis migrated from the ancient Persia, to the western part of India, which is now Gujarat, about 1000 years ago. I have heard a very sweet story. Many centuries ago, when Parsis arrived, they approached the king of the local land. They wanted to settle in the new place. The king was hesitant because he was not sure how his land could support more people? To stress his point, he ordered a tall cup full of milk. He showed the cup to the Parsi immigrants, stated that this cup couldn't hold anything else similarly his land couldn't hold anything more. Parsis took a handful of sugar and poured in the cup and said, just like this sugar not only got well-blended with the milk but also made the milk sweeter, we would be one of you. So Parsis adapted the Gujarati culture. They speak Gujarati, ladies wear Gujarati style saris. They follow many Gujarati customs while still retaining their own customs and individuality.
May be it's an urban legend, maybe a fable. So in order to celebrate this sweet story, kuchh meetha ho jaye? (let's have something sweet?)
Parsi ravo is similar to shira/sanja/shiro/sooji ka halwa/rawa kesari which is found in other parts of India. The only difference, I find is that instead of the flavor of cardamom/nutmeg, vanilla essence is added. We always relished this "Ravo" during Ganesh Chaturthi festival at our classmate Zubin's home.
Disclaimer - I am not an archaeologist or historian by profession. This story may or may not be very accurate. Please read it to enjoy the essence of the story.
1 cup rawa
1 tbsp ghee
3/4 - 1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tbsp almond slivers
1 tbsp pistachio slivers
1. Heat ghee in a pan. Roast rawa for about 15 minutes on a very low flame. Keep stirring continuously so it doesnt burn.
2. Boil milk and sugar.
3. Add milk-sugar mixture to the roasted rawa.
4. Stir till all the liquid is evaporated and pudding like consistency is achieved.
5. Switch off the gas. Add vanilla essence, almonds, and pistachios.
1. Do not add vanilla essence when the gas is on. It will make the ravo bitter in taste.
2. I have used vanilla bean this time but vanilla essence or extract can be used. If using vanilla bean, add it to the boiled milk-sugar mixture. You can scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and then add to the milk. However, I slit a 1/4th part of the bean, and put that bean itself in the milk.
3. Instead of using only milk, you can use milk+water or only water for the ravo. When you add just milk, it makes ravo creamier.