AÂ Happy and Prosperous Diwali to all of you!
As I sit down with a cup of chai after having washed a truck load of dishes and mopping the floors spot free, all I can think of is how back home,my mum would barely have a luxury of five minutes to relax,drink tea and breathe today. It is the largest of Hindu festivals -DiwaliÂ in India - a celebration that lasts for at least five days.
Early in the morning sheÂ would have soaked rice to makeÂ rangolis(decorations)on the floor of theÂ pujaÂ (prayer room).The flowers would have been plucked from the garden and tucked inside moistened cloth to keep them fresh till evening.TheÂ waterÂ soakedÂ diyas(earthern lamps)would be sun bathing by now and she would be busy taking out fancy serve ware and cutlery for evening dinner from the boxes stacked below the bed.By noon, aromas of cardamom andÂ gheeÂ from the kitchen would be permeating the air of our house.There would be some kind of tangyÂ chaat,stuffedÂ dahi vadasÂ resting inside the fridge and spicyÂ jal jeeraÂ to greet the guests.
Diwali or Deepawali,the festival of lights is celebrated by most indians as an autumn festival signifying the victory of good over evil.According to legend,LordÂ RamaÂ returned home after fourteen years of exile and defeating the demon kindÂ Ravana on this day. People lit their homes withÂ diyasÂ to celebrate his homecoming and from then the day became aÂ reasonÂ for celebration each year for the Hindus. Typically, the goddess of wealth & prosperity, Lakshmi is worshipped on this day, gifts are exchanged with friends and family, there are get togethers,Â much pomp and show, food, fun and fireworks.
I would lie if I told you that mum made Kaju katli at home. She didn't. Never. She didn't need to because the streets of DelhiÂ are dotted with amazingÂ halwaiwallas (sweet vendors)Â making and selling this best tasting confection with cashews.Instead she would be makingÂ besan ladoos, warm, nutty chickpea flour balls with ghee and sugar.
I have always been intimidated byÂ mithaiÂ making at home. They are an art. The ingredients are few and most of them look plain but taste so heavenly if you get the texture right. It took me a lot of pushing by the husband to take upÂ makingÂ this fudge treatÂ this year. I was most certain that I would end up messing itÂ up. You could perceive my confidence fromÂ the fact that I had planned a few things with the cashew sugar paste if everything did not come out the way it should. But, trust me I was in disbelief of how perfectÂ katliÂ came out.My daugheter, who would not eat any other indianÂ mithaiÂ ate these little diamonds like candy,one after the other.
To meÂ kaju katliÂ has always been something really exotic. Fudgy,nutty thins of ground cashews sweetened plainly with sugar, its one melt-in-the-mouth confection. It is one of the most popularÂ mithaiÂ in northern india. I always thought that it was a difficult thing to make but no, I was wrong. It is so easy,Â there are so less ingredients and few things to be kept in mind while you do it. Hopefully you get to make these delicious, gluten free & vegan treats for your family this year. Wishing all a Happy & Safe Diwali again!!
Ingredients (Makes 20-22 diamonds)
- 1.5 cups broken raw cashew pieces (Yield 1 cup +¾ cup cashew powder)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 6 tablespoon water
- 1-2 drops rose essence
- 1 tablespoon ghee (Optional, required during kneading, use any vegan substitute)
Use cashews at room temperature. If you store your nuts in the fridge, take them out a night before and spread on the kitchen towel to air dry. The cashews should be at room temperature and completely dry before you start powdering them. Transfer the cashew pieces to a dry blender jar and in one go powder them as fine as you can.Â WeÂ need a loose, smooth powder.Â TakeÂ care that the cashews do not become pasty or release their oils and clump up or become sticky (this is very important). If you feel that there are few big pieces in the cashew powder, pick them out or sift the powder using a sieve, but do not overwork the blender to grind the cashews.
In a wide, heavy bottomed pan (I use my 10" skillet) or aÂ kadhai, mix up the sugar and water. Set the pan on low flame and let the sugar dissolve. Stir (I use my rubber spatula) the solution once or twice while the sugar dissolves so that the sugar does not stick to bottom of the pan. While the sugar is dissolving, rub about ½ tablespoon ofÂ gheeÂ on a kitchen board (or the surface where you will knead) and set aside.
Once the sugar has dissolved, add the powdered cashews to the pan. Mix everything and brace yourself for someÂ hard work. KeepÂ on stirring and stirring as the mix cooks on low flame. The process will be slow in the beginning and you will feel that it will take forever but do not worry. Keep on stirring, scraping the mixture on low flame, do not let the mixture stick to the sides of the skillet.
After about 18 minutes, you will see that the mixture starts thickening and coming together.Add the rose essence (or any other flavorings) now if using and incorporate. We will shortly be getting there, once the mixture is thick, do not bother much about scraping the sides as they will be really dry. Around 22 minutes, the mixture will start resembling a soft, sticky dough and will clump up around the spatula. If you try to bring the mixture together in one place on theÂ skillet, it will try to slowly spread (similar to how a glug of cold honey spreads on a surface). It took me exactly 24 minutes to reach that stage. Depending on the flame settings and water content of the sugar, you can approximately look at 22-28 minutes to reach that stage.
Immediately transfer to the greased surface and leave to cool a bit until its safe to handle.Once the cashew dough has cooled slightly, rub a teaspoon ofÂ gheeÂ on your hands and very gently knead the dough for 5-7 minutes to form a ball. Remember that the dough needs to be warm when you knead so just wait till its safe to touch, do not let it cool down completely, else it will not knead and remain grainy.Do not press very hard as you knead else the cashews will start oozing their oil but there should be enough pressure so that a small ball is formed. You can grease you hands or the dough withÂ gheeÂ in between if it starts feeling sticky.
One you get a smooth ball, flatten it out slightly. Place a Â large and wide sheet of wax or butter paper on the dough and using a rolling-pin, roll it out to a ⅓" thickness, or you can roll out as thin or thick as you like. Using a sharp knife Â (or a ravioli cutter, like I did), cut into diamonds or squares or any shape you like.
Serve or store in an air tight container at room temperature for 5-6 days.
- The time of cooking noted in this recipe will vary if you are using any other kind of sugar than granulated, since the water content of different varieties of sugar is different.
- You can use any kind of flavorings - cardamom, saffron orÂ kewraÂ (screw pine water) instead of rose essence .
- This recipe can be use for almond powder too.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!