April 9, 2012

Pasha

April 9, 2012
Of all foods, pasha was the first dessert I made by myself as a teenager. I still remember the excitement in all stages of preparing it: beating the butter and sugar; adding vanilla, roasted almonds and dry fruits; whipping the cream; layering a cheese cloth over a mould and, finally, anticipating how it will look and taste after having drained overnight. I had never eaten pasha before. It was an opulent and exotic choice of recipe. I don’t know where I got the idea of making it. All that cream and butter! It was a loud contrast to what we usually ate on holidays.
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Pasha is a dish made in the Eastern Orthodox tradition after the fast of Great Lent. It is blessed by the priest after the Paschal Vigil, a service that celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus. A similar manner of sanctifying food is found in all spiritual cultures. When pasha migrated to the Finnish Easter menu from Russia, it lost the religious significance. Most of the Finns are Protestants.

Originally Pasha is shaped as a truncated pyramid in a beautifully carved wooden mould. It is decorated with the Cyrillic letters XB that stand for the Slavonic form of greeting “Christ is Risen!” The whiteness of curd, cream and butter symbolizes the purity of Jesus. Pasha is topped with a red candle that reminds of the illuminating light, as well as, the blood that was shed for our sins.
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I forgot to add fresh cheese to the pasha! As a result, it didn’t hold the form. To hide the mistake, I served it in lemon cups. It added freshness. Even without curd it was rich. As I had run out of vanilla, I flavoured it with anise, fennel and cardamom.
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In the Easter spirit of purification and gratitude, I would like to thank you for submitting Pure Vegetarian by Lakshmi to the annual Awards of The Saveur Magazine. By the mystic ways of providence, it made as a finalist out of 40 000 nominations. For such a new and small blog it is an encouragement. I value the sincerity of motive and presence of mind in everything I do. Although I’m satisfied with the reward of happiness and inner joy that follows any activity done in a proper consciousness, I’m reassured by the professional acknowledgment in this situation.

The other finalists in the category of Best Special Diets Blog are:

Please visit the wonderful blogs and support by voting the one that inspires you. You can access the category directly by clicking The Saveur badge below.

AN UPDATE: The award goes to Nom Nom Paleo this year. Congratulations!


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25 comments:

  1. A lovely dessert! So fresh and refined tasting.

    Congrats on the nomination! Heading there.

    cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. congrats lakshmi on the nomination.

    the dessert is looking so good. good color combos.

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  3. Congrats,,,and this onenlooks so yum,..:)

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  4. Pasha is completely new to me, but it sounds delicious. I appreciate that you provide history behind your recipes. I always learn something from you. Congratulations on being selected as a finalist!

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  5. This is what i enjoy about blogging. I learn something new every day! Like today, you taught me about this pretty looking dessert and idea of placing it in lemon cups ... brilliant :)

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  6. Totally new to me this pasha but it looks and sounds fantastic. Very creative putting it in the lemon cups.

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  7. I love coming here as I always leave with new knowledge. Congratulations on the Saveur nomination and finalist status, much deserved for you and your lovely blog.

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  8. Since a few months I'm following your beautiful blog.
    Great recipes and wonderful photos.
    I already voted for you.
    Happy Easter to you from Switzerland.

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  9. voted!;) Congrats Lakshmi, you deserve it for more reasons than words could describe.

    Why does the sound of Pasha take me back to a dark summer room, with drapes drawn and me lying down on the bed with my legs crossed and reading a collection of Russian Short Stories. There was no food there! and this dessert also reminds me of Srikhand. Then I see the recipe and you mention that yougurt may be used. What a cute idea to serve in lemon cups.. i think it would work even if you did not forget the cheese. Thanks for the little history.

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  10. Thank you!

    Soma - I was thinking the same about shrikhand. I am bias to Indian sweets. We were just talking with my husband that nothing can beat the genius of the ancient milk and butter sweets. There are only a couple of ingredients, but the taste is far superior. Pasha reflects the complexity of the Western mind. Of course it is made on a specific ocassion of things that are forbidden during the fast. But to be honest, simpler the better. Further we go from the essence, more we have to add in order to impress. That's the difference between India and the rest of the world to me.

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  11. Laksmi I'm so happy for your nomination. You deserve it as anyone. I voted and spred massage arround. You are dooing great work.

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  12. Thank you for the link love Laksmi! Like I said already I've been a fan of your blog for some time now, so it's been wonderful to connect through these awards xx

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  13. Congrats Lakshmi. You have a vote from every member of my family.We all in blogspeak "drool" over your photographs!
    There are such gems even in your response to comments as this from above
    'Further we go from the essence, more we have to add in order to impress' How profound.

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  14. Just voted! I refer your site to everyone I know who loves beauty and food! Every post I receive from you I almost hold my breath until the email opens and I see the days gorgeous photos. So blessed to be a recipient of your passion. ;)

    Namaste~
    Tiffany

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  15. Very well deserved Lakshmi! I would be heart broken if I would have not seen your name up there :) Pasha sounds rather similar even though i have never really had something like it.

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  16. Wow, Congratulations!

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  17. Thank you Cintamani, Emma, Sandhya, Tiffany, Kulsum and Zirkie. I'm aware nominations, competitions and public attention hide traps of grandiose. If I start acting like a film star, kick me, please :-)

    Sandhya - The thinking process I love in the Indian culture is detectable even in a simple saree. The single piece of cloth is not only a clean, stitchless garment, but a timeless attire that can be worn in personal ways and in all situations. It is aesthetically uplifting and enhancing the beauty of the one who carries it. It is an epitome of integrity. It makes me sad that so many Indians are turning away from such an unparalleled wealth and becoming enamoured with the cheap glitter of complicated life.

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  18. Gorgeous and seems like it'd be delicious regardless of whether there's cheese in it or not. Thanks for always teaching us about new foods and traditions with your posts. I had never heard of pasha before.

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  19. Mistakes or otherwise, these Pasha's turned out beautifully :)

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  20. Hardly surprised that you made it as a finalist - you have among the most beautiful photos on any blog I've seen, as well as stories that make me really want to sit down and read. It's wonderful!

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  21. This is exotic!!!
    You know, in Lucknow(India) they have a very similar absolutely divine sweet called "Mashaq".
    It is usually sold only early morning,Heavenly..
    I can well imagine how delicious this will be....

    B/W I have completed designing the new look for my space, I will send you the pic to have a look. Once again Thanks for all ur advice, it really helped me.....

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  22. Oh wow, this dessert looks delicious, and would go excellently with our coffees (www.ArabianCoffees.co.uk) - I'm think especially our Riyadh / Saudi Blend.

    Where do you get your inspiration for your very distinct recipes?

    Abdu Al Arabi

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  23. Abhu Al Arabi - thanks. The inspiration comes from whatever ingredients I have in the kitchen :-)

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