Spring has hit full force here in the valley and looks like the bright sun is here to stay. A crisp, pleasant mornings is what awaits us as we get out of the bed & I feel so inspired to stay active and finish up a lot of chores by noon. A certain kind of energy engrosses me throughout the now longer days and we have also started our evening strolls to the nearby Sunset Park. Onset of spring is also apparent in the tall peach tree in our front yard and I am already spotting a couple of buds signaling that the fruit will be here in no time. I am planning to can the fruit this year,something which I missed doing last summer.
The Indian festival of spring, Holi is round the corner and like most celebrations back home this festival is also full of food & colors(of the real kind). I prepared these coconut & mava gujiya which is categorically made during Holi in my family.It is a sorta indian empanada with a sweet filling.The eggless pastry is flaky but dense at the same time,its lightly crispy on the outside but gooey in the center from the ghee,though you can do any kind of filling but traditionally milk solids (mava) mixed with aromatic cardamom and variety of nuts are stuffed inside,making it a wholesome holiday grub.
Holi was one of the most busy time in my grandma’s house. I remember how lunch & sometimes dinner was cooked early so that the later part of the day could be spent making gujiya and other savory things.It may look like a quickie but when we are talking hundreds of such homemade pastries, it was too much work. She started the preparations a week ahead, the neighborhood and all the house help were given boxes full of these as a token of the festival and since these last for almost a weeks if stored properly, we always had lots of them left as anytime snack after the festival had winded up.
Mava or Khoya is solidified milk, quite comparable to ricotta but less moist.It is used in making most of the indian sweets and desserts. You take one bite of the it and you discern that unique dense and milky taste. If you do not have access to indian stores , you could make your own mava at home (recipe here).The filling can be made a day ahead and once fried, these gujiya freeze very well too. Making gujiya is labor intensive so plan it on a not so busy day. Have fun & Happy Holi.
Ingredients (Makes 15)
For the filling (Makes extra. I had about 1/2 cup leftover filling)
For the crust
For the glue
For the syrup
Make the filling:-
In a heavy bottomed pan/kadhai, heat up 1 tbsp ghee on low heat. Add desiccated coconut to it and lightly toast the coconut till you smell a nice aroma. Transfer the coconut to a big bowl.Melt another tbsp of ghee and add the nuts & melon seeds(if using) to the kadhai and toast them on low heat. Transfer to the same bowl as coconut.Next, on very low heat, melt another tbsp ghee( you might not need ghee if using homemade mava) and add the grated khoya/mava to it.On very low heat, cook the mava till it loosens and starts becoming runny. You will need to continuously stir it so that it does not stick to the bottom. Once the mava starts to clump up, transfer to the same bowl.Note – If you see a lot of fat oozing out of the mava, try to skim off as much as you can.
Let all the ingredients completely cool . Once cold, add the cardamom powder & granulated sugar and combine well. Set aside or refrigerate( if you are making a day ahead).
Make the Dough for the crust:-
Sift the flour once. Mix the flour with ghee and shortening ( a tbsp at a time) and work it with your fingers. While doing so try to make a ball of the flour, if the flour clumps up and does not break when you drop it, stop adding the shortening.Mix the flour gently with warm water. Add water slowly and handle the dough gently till it comes together. Once its together, knead for 2-3 minutes and (very important) cover it with a damp cloth and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
Make the glue :-
In a small bowl, mix up 1 tbsp flour with water. It should not be lumpy. Set aside.
Making the Gujiya
Once the dough has rested, pinch equal portions of the dough and keep them covered with a damp cloth. Press each portion between palms to make a smooth ball. Roll out each portion into a 3″ circle. Dip a finger into the glue (made earlier) and spread it all around the edge of the rolled dough. Pick up the rolled dough into your palms and pinch the centre of the edge on one side in such a way that one of the ends is closed to form a semi circle. Spoon a tablespoon of the filling and bring all the edges together to form a crescent. When you seal the edges, try to form sort of a dough border by pressing the edges so that you can make a pattern laterMake sure the edges are completely sealed, else the filling will ooze out while frying. Note – Do not overstuff the filling else when you fry the gujiyas will puff up too much and filling will ooze out.
You could leave it as it is or use back or a fork or ravioli cutter to make a pretty edge. I used my hands to pinch the dough and fold it over itself to make a pattern. Place the gujiya on a plate & cover with a damp cloth. Make all the gujiyas in the same way and let sit covered till ready to fry.
Heat up enough oil to fry the gujiyas. The oil is at the right temperature when you put a lithe dough into it and it comes up slowly to the surface without sizzling away. Fry the gujiyas 2-3 at a time on low heat, turning all around till golden fried in color. Note – Do not rush the frying, else your gujiyas will have blisters all over and they will be brown on outside but raw in the center.
Tranfer to the top of a cooling rack and leave to cool.
Make the Syrup :-
While the gujiyas are cooling, bring the sugar & water to a boil and let simmer for 1 minutes. Add the cardamom (or saffron) and mix well. Brush this syrup on all sides of the gujiyas while they are warm.
Serve gujiyas at room temperature with thandai (spiced milk drink).If you want to freeze,let the gujiyas cool completely and store in air tight containers.
Happy Holi to all the readers.