Desserts · Easy Recipes · Festival Recipes · Gluten Free · Vegetarian

Kaju Katli – Fudgy Cashew Thins


A Happy and Prosperous Diwali to all of you!

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianAs 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 –Diwali in India – a celebration that lasts for at least five days.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianEarly in the morning she would have soaked rice to make rangolis(decorations)on the floor of the puja (prayer room).The flowers would have been plucked from the garden and tucked inside moistened cloth to keep them fresh till evening.The water soaked 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 and ghee from the kitchen would be permeating the air of our house.There would be some kind of tangy chaat,stuffed dahi vadas resting inside the fridge and spicy jal jeera to greet the guests.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianDiwali 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,Lord Rama returned home after fourteen years of exile and defeating the demon kind Ravana on this day. People lit their homes with diyas to celebrate his homecoming and from then the day became a reason 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, much pomp and show, food, fun and fireworks.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianI 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 Delhi are dotted with amazing halwaiwallas (sweet vendors) making and selling this best tasting confection with cashews.Instead she would be making besan ladoos, warm, nutty chickpea flour balls with ghee and sugar.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianI have always been intimidated by mithai 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 up making this fudge treat this year. I was most certain that I would end up messing it up. You could perceive my confidence from 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 perfect katli came out.My daugheter, who would not eat any other indian mithai ate these little diamonds like candy,one after the other.

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indianTo me kaju katli 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 popular mithai in northern india. I always thought that it was a difficult thing to make but no, I was wrong. It is so easy, 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!!

Sinfully Spicy - Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indian

Sinfully Spicy - Process, Kaju Katli , Vegan & Gluten free Cashew Thins #diwali #indian

Ingredients (Makes 20-22 diamonds)

  • 1.5 cups broken raw cashew pieces (Yield 1 cup +3/4 cup cashew powder)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1-2 drops rose essence
  • 1 tbsp ghee (Optional, required during kneading, use any vegan substitute)

Method

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. We need a loose, smooth powder. Take 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 a 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 1/2 tbsp of ghee 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 some hard work. Keep 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 the 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 of ghee 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 with ghee in between if it starts feeling sticky.

One you get a smooth ball, flatten it out slightly. Place a  large and wide sheet of wax or butter paper on the dough and using a rolling-pin, roll it out to a 1/3″ thickness, or you can roll out as thin or thick as you like. Using a sharp knife  (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.

Notes 

  1. 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.
  2. You can use any kind of flavorings – cardamom, saffron or kewra (screw pine water) instead of rose essence .
  3. This recipe can be use for almond powder too.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!

Desserts · Easy Recipes · Festival Recipes · Vegetarian

Coconut Burfi (Fudge) for Diwali

Wishing everyone a prosperous & joyful Diwali.

It is Diwali day tomorrow in India.Commonly know as the festival of lights, Diwali is a five-day long fare celebrated across the country with a lot of tradition & merriment.The grandest among the Hindu festivals and dated about 11000 years back, it celebrates the homecoming of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after 14 years of banishment and a triumph over the demon king Ravana. In joyous celebration of the return of their king, people of the kingdom decorated their homes, lit diyas (earthen lamps) & rejoiced.Till today, lightning a string of diyas around the house and place of worship is said to remove negativity and is symbolic of inviting gyan (knowledge) inside the house.

Sitting on the couch as I write this post on a grey, cloudy afternoon, not a single thing is fluttering outside or inside the home. All I can hear is the sound of tall palm trees swaying relentlessly in the winds. It is a strange cone of silence that draws my mind towards it, at the same time my heart is bubbling with memories of Diwali from back home. Innately, each half an hour I look at the clock & wonder what would happen as the day starts in few hours.

Mom would start by spreading the overnight soaked diyas (earthen lamps) in the courtyard to dry out before the evening , give finishing touches to her colorful rangoli. She would cook all day to feed an army of guests who will throng the house to greet & exchange gifts. Dad would keep himself busy decorating each nook & corner of the house with all kinds of luminescent lights & eating mithai (sweets) every hour. By evening, the house would be decked up as a new bride, prayers offered to goddess of wealth, Laxmi, prasad distributed among family members,dinner served among chatter & chaos followed by night long gambling, which is considered auspicious today.

‘Burfi’ or ‘Barfi’ is a very basic sweet, fudgy confectionary in India. Quite like the western counterpart, its made with loads of sugar & milk and is necessarily flavored with cardamom, saffron, fruit extracts or rose-water. Traditionally, milk solids to ground nut powders to different types of flours are used but now even fancier versions with chocolate and cheese are hugely popular . For me, Diwali is incomplete without gulab jamuns & some kind of burfi.

Like all Hindu festivals, Diwali is necessarily a sweet rally. I missed out on making any sweets at home last year, this time I was keen on doing something for sure. Anything with coconut is an instant favorite in the house. Keeping it quick & simple, I prepared this 15 minute coconut – dulce de leche burfi last night.

My grandmother’s coconut burfi recipe involves caramelizing whole milk from scratch, simmering it slowly over stove top for hours, stirring it patiently to release the natural sugars in there & achieving an intense, grainfree consistency. The creamy, gooey milk solids at the end of the toil are dreamy. If I may say, it’s probably one of the things I would love to lick for my last meal. So good!

However, for now, instead of making it from scratch, I used dulce de leche in my recipe. I love the anticipation that builds up when I m trying to tweak things in the kitchen. It all looked falling into place from the beginning , right from when coconut flakes toasted in ghee to the divine aroma that lingered while dulce de leche warmed up, loosening slowly  & combining with the ingredients. Trust me in this concoction, the humble latin spread did not disappoint. The fudge came out dense, perfectly sweet & almost melt in the mouth like. P said that it reminded him of the coconut burfi from the favorite sweet shop in his hometown. You don’t miss anything here, except maybe the opportunity of licking the pot as fresh milk thickens when you do it from scratch.

Printable Recipe

Preparation time : 5 – 8 minutes

Cooking time : 10 minutes + setting time in the refrigerator or at room temperature

Ingredients Makes 8-10 squares (approx 2″ X 2″ X 1/2″ thk)

  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 3 cups dried coconut flakes, unsweetened
  • 3 tbsp almond meal (or fine crushed almonds)
  • 1 no 13.4 oz (380gms) dulce de leche can
  • 8-10 green cardamom pods or 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 2 tsp  ghee (for greasing the tray)
  • For garnish : 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)

Method :-

  • Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods and crush them into a fine powder using mortar & pestle.Set aside. Skip this step if using ready-to- use cardamom powder.
  • Liberally grease the tray/brownie pan you want to set the fudge in with 2 tsp ghee. Set aside.
  • In a heavy, wide-mouthed ( I use my 12″) pan, melt the 4 tbsp ghee on a low heat. Add the almond meal and roast it for 1-2 minutes until it smells fragrant but does not change color.Next,on low to medium heat, add the dried coconut flakes & toast them stirring continuously until you smell the aroma and they just start to turn light brown.About 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the crushed cardamom next & mix well.
  • Reduce heat to low. Add dulce de leche. Immediately stir everything together till the mixture clumps up together. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Put off the heat.
  • Transfer the mixture to the greased tray and spread evenly to a uniform thickness.You can use back of a spatula or spoon to smoothen out the surface. Let cool for 10 minutes.
  • Cover the surface with a wax paper next and let set in refrigerator (during summers) for at least 1.5 hours or outside (in winters) until firm to touch.With cold weather in,I let the tray sit on the countertop overnight.
  • Melt the white chocolate chips over a double boiler and drizzle over the fudge. Let set for another hour till the chocolate dries out.
  • Cut into neat squares using a sharp knife dipped in hot water.

Notes:-

  1. I use dried, desiccated, unsweetened coconut flakes available in the bulk supply section at Whole foods. You can use fresh or frozen coconut (skinless) in this recipe but you will need to adjust (increase) the toasting time in that case.Ensure that the moisture has totally dried out before you add the other ingredients.
  2. I stock whole green cardamom pods, break open,crush the seeds using mortar/pestle and use in my recipes. It is a much fresh & economical option.
  3. You can leave the fudge as it is or use any kind of nuts,semi sweet chocolate , edible silver/gold foil for garnishing.

Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!