Damayanti's Sweetmeats

In the Caitanya-caritamrata, we read about Lord Caitanya's ecstatic pastimes in Jagannath Puri. Many devotees visited him there, including Raghava Pandita, who came with bags full of food prepared for the Lord by his sister, Damayanti. "Damayanti made varieties of unparalleled food just suitable for Lord Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu to eat. The Lord ate it continually for one year."

Of the many nectarian foodstuffs described in sastra that were included in Raghava's bag, a selection of sweetmeats were mentioned. This recipe is inspired from these references.

The following ingredients can be easily adapted to many flavours of sweetmeats by simply adding different ground spices to the jaggery and poppy.

Anise, ground, 1-1/2 Teaspoons
Coriander, ground, 2 Teaspoons
Jaggery, 1/4 Cup
Khas Khas (tiny white poppy seed), 1 Teaspoon
Ghee, 1 Teaspoon

Heat the ghee at medium heat, add the jaggery and stir till itís mostly melted down. Add the anise and coriander, and stir constantly as the mixture cooks. When the jaggery just starts to thicken, add the khas khas. Continue cooking till the mixture pulls away from the side of the pan. Remove from heat and set aside till the mixture cools enough to handle (but donít let it cool too much!). As soon as you can work it, roll the mixture into small balls. Set on a plate, not touching one another, till all the sweets are rolled. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. When cold, these are like hard candies. When allowed to come to room temperature, theyíre soft and chewy.... or anywhere in-between. I like to offer them at the mid-way point of a feast offering. They're also nice to put on the sweets plate as an end-of-meal digestive treat, or drop one in a cup of hot herbal tea as a combination sweetener/digestive.


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