Mani (Rice Halwa/Pudding)

Another one of Mangalore's most loved and almost extinct sweet preparations is the Mani (pronounced as 'maani' in Konkani and also called as Manni in Kannada) which invokes some nice memories and makes my mouth water. Maani is a kind of rice pudding which requires a lot of patience and time. It is probably the preparation time and method that discourages today's generation from even giving it a try (I almost gave up towards the end if it wasn't for my Mum-in-law who kept reassuring me that it would be done soon).

If you ask someone about how Maani is made, most people will throw their hands in the air, shudder, roll their eyes and say "thaka mosthu saalunk asa - ek ghanto!" (it takes a lot of stirring - takes ages!) - well, that's not really the case, when I tried it, it took me about 20 minutes to cook the mixture on a slow flame and then ofcourse another 20 minutes to cool off, but the stirring business doesn't take as long as people exclaim. The only catch here is that while you set the pan on slow fire you must make sure you give this precious Maani your undivided attention. Forget taking calls or answering the doorbell - cuz then you will have burnt Maani. If you must attend to other things while on the Maani business, simply turn off the flame & attend to it again ASAP! (although it's not the recommended procedure)

The stirring is also a great exercise for your biceps :) As the mixture thickens to a transparent gooey consistency, it gets harder to stir, so having an extra hand to relieve you of this hard work can be really welcoming :) Shae! Did I scare you off? Nah, try it - it's worth the effort as the taste is so delicate & yummy - Maani will just melt in your mouth!

(Printable Recipe)

Recipe Source: My mum-in-law
Yield: Enough mixture for a 12 inch steel plate

You Need:
1. Soak the rice for an hour
2. Grind the grated coconut with a little warm water (about 2tbsp) to a coarse paste and then put this mixture into a muslin cloth (or bairas cloth) and squeeze to extract the thick milk. Keep it aside. Add some more water into the cloth & extract another cup of thin milk. (You will require approximately 6 cups of liquid in total)
3. Grind the rice to a fine paste with a cup of thick milk. Mix this paste along with the remaining liquid, cardamom powder, Indache Peet (optional) & jaggery to make a thin batter.
4. Grease a thick bottomed deep pan with ghee and pour the batter into it. Toss in the cashewnuts (if they are regular ones & not pokan). Set the pan on medium flame and keep stirring continuously until the batter thickens (and looks a little transparent) and leaves the sides of the pan - this takes about 20-25minutes. When the thickening of the batter takes place it may become tough & tiring for you to stir, so it's a good idea to get someone reliable to help you switch places as you should not stop the task of stirring even for a minute.
5. Pour the mixture into well buttered plates (steel plates with tall edges - Boshi or Peer as they are called in Konkani) and using a little ghee to your fingers quickly spread the mixture to the entire plate flattening the surface to make it smooth. If you cannot handle the heat, you can smear some ghee to the back of a large spoon/ladle to do the same.
6. Allow the mixture to cool & set in the plates. Decorate with raisins, cut into diamond shapes,and serve

Note on Indhache Peet: Well readers, i'm not sure what the exact name of Indache Peet is in English, but its very similar to arrowroot powder but is a little dull (offwhite) in colour compared to arrowroot powder. Commonly used in Mangalorean households to treat stomach upsets. The flour is obtained from the root of the tree (Indhaso rook) and is quite expensive and a rare commodity today)

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