Ladoos are must on any indian festival and these nutty beauties are super easy to whip up. Mawa makes them so creamy and melt in the mouth and the floral notes of rose water together with meaty pistachios is a match made in heaven. If you are still looking for something easy to make on Holi, try these ladoos.
These are ridiculously easy to whip up and all you need is 3 ingredients. When a recipe calls for few ingredients, I recommend good quality ones since it makes all the difference in the taste. Use fresh pistachios which are sweeter in taste, mawa with a good quality of fat content(you won’t need much ghee then) and rose water or rose essence that is not more than 6 months old.
These ladoos are not overly sweet and I like them that way, you can increase the powdered sugar by couple tablespoons if desired. I like to chop the pistachios on a cutting board instead of using a grinder, I feel that way I can control the texture of the nut powder and the taste is better too.
1-2tspghee (optional, if needed for rolling ladoos)
Add mawa/mava to a nonstick pan. Place the pan on stove,switch on the stove on low heat. Let the mawa soften. Mawa softens very quickly and needs attention so that it dosent get burnt. Keep stirring using a spatula.
I didnt need to add any extra ghee to mawa, if you feel your mawa is on a dry side add a tablespoon or so of ghee.
Once mawa is soft(dont let brown), immediately add the sugar and pistachios together. Mix well untill nicely combined. Keep the heat low, cook everything for 1-2 minutes.
Switch off the stove and mix in the rose water and chopped pistachios(if using). Wait for 5 minutes or until the mixture feels cool enough to handle. Dont let the mixture completely cool down.
Smear some ghee on your hands and divide into 8-10 equal portions. Roll into smooth ladoos. Store for 3-4 days refrigerated.
I lightly dry toast the pistachios for 2-3 minutes on a hot skillet. Don’t let the color change, toasting helps in blooming the oils of nuts.
The sugar quantity can go up to 9-10 tablespoons if you like sweeter ladoos.
I chop the pistachios on a cutting board to a coarse fine powder instead of using a grinder. It takes a bit of effort but the texture and taste of nuts is really better that way.
You can replace rose with cardamom or saffron flavor if desired.
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 –Diwali in India – a celebration that lasts for at least five days.
Early 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.
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,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.
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 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.
I 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.
To 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!!
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)
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.
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 or kewra (screw pine water) instead of rose essence .
Come end of September and its time of autumn festivities for Indians.Hindus all over India celebrate Navratri (nine days of fasting & feasting),worshipping Goddess Durga in nine pristine forms,each form depicting a virtue . Ramlila is a traditional, nine or ten-day long drama staged during these days in northern india to portray the life events of Lord Rama and his victory over the demon king Ravana.The last day which is a celebration of this triumph is observed as Dusherra.
Year after year we looked forward to Ramlila days. There would be a nip in the air,schools would be off and bazaars all geared up to witness the hustle and bustle of upcoming festivals.Quite a lot of big and small fairs dotted our town,each locality showcasing its grandeur through decorations,much pomp & show,some having lighted displays,other luring crowds with musicals.Before you go into thinking about a fairyland, the ramlila grounds were dusty and crowded, cramped shoulder to shoulder with people,with flashy neon or fluorescent light banners and the music shows – a cacophony of loudspeakers which sore your ears few minutes into listening but, in those days I LOVED all of that. My enthusiasm could be might low if I visit the fair now but in those days,every evening, dressed our best,we left the house together to visit a new ramlila ground.
Walking through the dimly lit,narrow roads and holding each other’s hand, carrying goodies in the other, we would come back home around midnight from the last day at ramlila,after having witnessed the demon effigies burnt to ashes and the fireworks that followed to cheer the triumph of good over evil.Legs aching due to long waits in the queue for almost everything but stomachs stuffed to content with piping hot jalebis fresh from the halwai stalls and our hands full with knickknacks bought from the toy stalls – bubble guns, imitation bows & arrows, helium balloons, pinwheels and candy.All we chatted about were the rides at the fair and how to make next few weeks to Diwali fun!
Sometimes I feel how growing up, for us the means of entertainment were so uncomplicated.I remember playing on terrace for hours with tiny earthen pots and tea cups bought from the potter stalls at ramleela, on few days we played cricket for hours in the aangan (yard),on most evenings we wandered miles and miles in the park chasing butterflies and bees or hopelessly trying to create colorful illusions with pinwheels. Festivals like Holi, Dusherra and Diwali were longed for, for months. Mum tells me that I had quite a keen interest in all things culture and mythology.
No computer, no DVDs, no play stations, no just dance, no karaoke. Entertainment did not come out of LCD screens, it was way real. Sorry for sounding like a grandma but I dare not talk about the simplicity of those days!
Jalebi is the one of the popular mithai which was popular in my part of town on Dusherra, which falls on 3rd Oct this year.For me on this day nothing else will suffice as dessert if it’s not jalebi. Comparable to a funnel cake but eggless and fermented, jalebi is a crisp, deep-fried maida (flour) batter,soaked in sugar syrup long enough to sweeten it but not let it turn soft. The sugar syrup may or may not be flavored with cardamom, saffron or rosewater. As the fermented batter is piped into the hot oil, it swells and comes sizzling up,changing its color to golden. The crisp concentric fried batter are then dunked in warm sugar and served with cold unsweetened milk or rabdi. However, my favorite way to serve hot jalebis is with dahi (plain unsweetened yogurt).
Ingredients (Makes 20-25 Jalebis)
For the Jalebi
1 cup maida (all-purpose flour)
1.5 tbsp cornstarch
1.5 tbsp besan (fine ground gram flour)
1 tsp yeast
1.5 tbsp melted ghee (use any neutral oil for vegan version)
2 tbsp whole milk plain yogurt, at room temperature (skip for vegan, see notes)
1/8 tsp saffron powder (crush a few saffron threads between palms)
1-2 drops orange food color(optional)
1/4 to 1/3 cup luke warm water + 2-3 tbsp warm water for dissolving yeast (adjust water quantity for right consistency)
Canola/Sunflower Oil for frying (You can add 1-2 tbsp ghee to it for a nice aroma)
For the Sugar Syrup
1.5 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1-2 green cardamom pods, cracked open or 1/4 tsp green cardamom powder
1/4 tsp saffron threads
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Optional Flavorings – rose water, kewra (screwpine water)
In a small bowl, add of scant pinch of sugar and 2-3 tbsp of warm(not hot) water, dissolve yeast and let sit for 5-8 minutes. Let the yeast bloom (you should see froth on top).If the yeast does not bloom, discard and start the batch again.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, sift the maida, besan and cornstarch. Add the saffron powder.Using your finger, lightly mix the ghee and yogurt with the flour. Add the bloomed yeast mix, orange food color and slowly add luke warm water to make a smooth,lump free batter. Be doubly sure that the batter has no lumps, it is a very important step. Add the water a little at a time and incorporate.The consistency should be like a thick pancake batter. Cover the bowl with a cling film and set aside in a warm place to ferment for 2-3 hours. (The batter will ferment quickly, about 1-2 hours during summer months but could take longer during winters) Do not disturb it during fermenting.
10-15 minutes before you are ready to fry the jalebis, in a medium,wide pot, bring the sugar and water to a boil. Once the sugar syrup is boiling, reduce the heat, add the cardamom and let simmer for 7-8 minutes so that the syrup thickens up a bit. We are not looking for any string consistency here but if you take a tiny drop of syrup in between your thumb and pointer finger, it should feel sticky and not watery. Once the sugar has simmered and thickened, add lemon juice, stir and put off the heat.Wait for 2-3 minutes and then if you are using saffron or cardamom powder or any other flavorings, add it to the sugar syrup. Let sit near to where you will fry up the jalebis.
Use the widest pot or wok or pan that you have in your kitchen to fry the jalebis. I use my 12″ skillet.Pour 1-2 inches of oil in it and let heat up on medium heat.
At the end of two hours, the fermented batter will not exactly double up in volume but you would see that it is much more light and fluffy than what we started with. Once fermented, do not mix the batter much. We want it to remain airy and fluffy. Just cut and fold once or twice using a spatula (just the way we handle cake frosting) and pour it into a squeezable bottle with nozzle. Try to squeeze the batter out of the nozzle, it should come out like a tooth paste from a tube. (see notes for other ways of checking batter consistency). If you feel that the batter is thick, add a little water for the right consistency or if the batter is thin, add a couple of tablespoons of flourand mix gently so that there are no lumps.
To test the right temperature of oil, drop a small quantity batter in the oil, it should come up sizzling to the top but without changing color (if batter changes color, reduce heat and let the oil temperature reduce a bit). Squeeze the batterout of the nozzle, applying constant pressure and making 3-4 concentric circles in the oil and sealing them in the middle.Work from outside towards inside. It takes time and experience to get proper shape and it gets better and better batch after batch. Do not fry more than 4-5 jalebis in a batch. Once you have piped the jalebis in hot oil, in 2-3 seconds they will come floating up, flip and let turn golden on the other side too. Once golden, take out of from the hot oil, tilting the spider or frying spoon so that excess oil is drained.
Add the fried jalebis to the warm (not hot)syrup. Let soak for not more than 25-30 seconds and take out again tilting the ladle to drain excess syrup else they will break and turn soggy.
Fry up all the jalebis and soak in syrup. Serve warm with cold unsweetened yogurt.
Few Tips and Notes:
Indian Cooking especially mithai (sweets) making rides on a lot of approximations and tips and tricks learnt through experience. In our homes, rarely gadgets are used to test the oil or sugar syrup temperatures or times.Lets say we trust our sight and smell senses more when cooking. Mithai making is an art and gets better with practice. Here are few of the things I have learnt from mum and my own trials.
In case you are making the jalebis for vegans, skip the yogurt in the recipe and use a little more water to get the right consistency of the batter.
Addition of lemon juice to the syrup prevents crystallization of sugar as well as lends it a mild tart flavor which is typical to jalebis.
Adding food coloring to the batter is a choice, if you do not want,skip it. I like to add color because my mum always does and I think it looks nice to the eyes.
Usually the batter gets a little runny after fermentation, so its better to keep it on the thickish side before you set it out to ferment. You can always add water later to get the right consistency.
One of the ways to check the consistency of batter is to take a large quantity in your hands and try to drop it in the bowl from a height, about 1-2 feet, it should fall is continuously, similar to how a lace or ribbon flows.
You could use a Ziploc bag with a hole cut up at the end to make the jalebis, but I find using the squeeze bottle much easier since if you keep on pressing the Ziploc bag, after a few batches, the hole becomes large in size and the jalebis become very very thick.I find the ziploc method quite messy too. The squeezable bottles are available in baking aisle for a couple of dollars. They are much expensive to buy online. But trust me, really easy and work with. Attaching a nozzle to a piping bag works fine too, just keep in mind that the thickness of the jalebis will depend on the nozzle size. Do not use a very big size nozzle since the jalebis will not cook properly inside once fried.
While frying, if the temperature of oil is too hot, the jalebis will come up sizzling, the batter will tear or have bubbles all over, it might every scatter in the oil and jalebis will turn over crisp and not absorb syrup properly. If the oil temperature is too low, the jalebis will remain flat and raw inside. Once you start frying, it will take you 1-2 minutes to know the right temperature of oil, the jalebis should come up within few seconds (2-3secs) of piping into oil and swell as you fry but at the same time do not get too brown. Don’t worry I also had few over brown ones, so you will know when its right.
Getting the right shape of the jalebis takes time, they do not have to be precise and perfect but as you make more and more, you will get a hang of it. Just keep in mind to squeeze the bottle/piping bag batter with a constant pressure and work in concentric circles, outside towards inside. Again, practice will help.However, whatever shape they come out,they will taste good.
The right texture of the jalebis is crispy on outside, if you take a bite, you will notice the tubular crossection filled with syrup. Without getting more technical,just know that they are not meant to be soft.
You will have leftover syrup after the jalebis are soaked. I usually dunk baked bread croutons/slices in them and serve as a snack. You could refrigerate it and use to make gulab jamuns if you like. Also, it can be used in smoothies or for making beverages too.
Jalebis can be stored for 2-3 days. Do not refrigerate. Just store at room temperature. I however, do not recommend or prefer storing them. Make small batches and serve rightaway.
I can’t even begin to describe how the house smelled whenever badi mummy (my grandma) used to make besan ladoos. If you have ever worked with besan (chickpea flour) and tried roasting it, you would know what I mean. It takes an extra sniff to brace in all of it, embracing it in all your senses. It’s the aroma of home – sweet & comforting. If there is any indian mithai (sweets) which I choose over gulab jamuns, it has to be this. I just said that.
Similar to a never empty cookie jar on kitchen counters, there was hardly any time when besan ladoos were not stocked in my grandma’s house, the only difference was that these were securely kept in a stained brass jar on the top most rack in the kitchen. Just so that we only eat them after having meals and not as a meal- highly addictive as they were. Sneaking in a couple of them with cold unsweetened milk before leaving for school is one of the best ways we relished them as kids.Some of you might contest how something loaded with ghee and sugar could possibly be a morning ritual but at times few foods become such a part of you that the nourishment becomes secondary, it’s just the comfort of eating. Similar to donuts and coffee,I guess. Plus childhood could absorb in all those calories.
I think I never made besan ladoos after getting married.When mom visited me last year during my pregnancy days, she made a big batch and I was hooked again. Mindful, clean, healthy eating is fine but lets keep it away from the comfort such recipes evokes. This is one of those few recipes which takes me back in time, engages me in the memory of those years. I have put together a batch almost three or four times in last one year. Not that I eat them for breakfast but its a thorough guilty pleasure when I need sugar.
Besan(chickpea flour) ladoo (sweet confection) is an extremely popular no-occasion mithai in India.In homes these are served just to cater to sweet tooth after meals, for casual snacking or as an instant energy boost.Requiring just four ingredients, the recipe is very forgiving and gluten-free. Coarse chickpea flour is roasted in ghee till it starts emanating a nutty fragrance. Sugar, nuts and dried fruits are added and then the flour is rolled into small dumplings. Sweet and simple. You could add in a variety of nuts and seeds but I like to add only raisins. If the flour is not slow roasted properly, there will be raw after taste so bring lots of patience when you decide to make these. Other than that the recipe is a no brainer.
Ingredients (Makes 12-15 ladoos)
3/4 cup ghee (measured at room temperature)
2 cup ladoo besan (coarse chickpea flour)
1/2 cup powdered sugar +1/3 cup crystal sugar
5-6 cardamom pods
1/3 cup raisins
Coarse Chickpea Flour (Ladoo Besan/Mota Besan is easily avialbale in indian/pakistani stores)
If you do not get coarse chickpea flour, add 2-3 tbsp of fine semolina while roasting to get the right texture.If you do not want to add semolina and keep them gluten free,use usual chickpea flour that you could get but add lesser quantity of ghee (about 1/2 cup) than what is mentioned in the recipe, add more melted ghee later if you feel that the roasted flour-sugar mix is dry or if required when shaping the ladoos.
The right texture for ladoos is coarse and chewy – they should not to stick to gums.
You could use coconut oil in this recipe in place of ghee for a vegan version but frankly the taste changes totally and I did not like it much.
I add a mix of powdered and crystal raw turbinado sugar to better the chewy texture though traditionally powdered sugar (boora) is used.
The ladoos from this recipe are very moist so if in case you have a difficulty while shaping them, refrigerate the flour mix for 10-12 minutes and roll out. They will not fall apart once shaped into balls.
In a large pot, combine ghee with besan and using your fingers combine well so that there are no lumps. Transfer the mixture to a heavy bottomed kadhai/wide pan. Put the kadhai on stove and let heat on medium low for 5-7 minutes. When the kadhai has warmed up, reduce heat to low.
Cook on a low flame, stirring continuously. The slow roasting is extremely important so as to ensure that the raw taste of besan is gone. Besan will slowly start changing color and you will smell a nice aroma. After about 30-35 minutes of slow roasting, you will also see ghee starting to separate on the sides. Take off the stove, mix in the raisins (or nuts if using) and set aside to cool.
While the mixture is cooling, crack open the cardamom pods and in using mortar and pestle crush the seeds to a fine powder.
Once the roasted besan is cooled (but not cold) and easy to handle, add in the sugar and cardamom powder. Combine nicely so that everything is mixed together. Make even sized balls. You can moisten your palms with little melted ghee (if required) while making balls.
‘Paani, cheeni se kam hona chahiye‘, mum replied that the quantity of water should be less than sugar. I had called in to ask the ratio of sugar and water for the syrup before setting out to make this chikki.
“Agar ek katori cheeni hai to kitna paani?‘ I re worded the question knowing that if at all, sometimes she measures using katori (small bowl).The reply remained the same ‘Paani kam aur cheeni jyada‘ (more sugar, less water). I gave up knowing that those teaspoons and cups that I am slowly becoming slave to, have no place in her kitchen.
There, lies the beauty of Indian cooking,everything done with accurate approximations, andaza.There isn’t a need to fish through kitchen drawers ahead of cooking to locate cups and spoons, neither to flip through recipe books because there aren’t any written ones. My mum and aunts could cook off an entire meal discussing the neighbour’s daughter in law, it’s just eyeballing,tasting and adjusting the flavors in between. There are no hard and fast rules, the methods are traditional,the food comes out wonderful each time. It’s all about cooking with good impulse and feeling.Though it takes while to learn those techniques and pointers to dish out your bestest recipes, but once you are on it, you can trust your gut for the lifetime.
I never understood the ‘taar‘ or the number of strings method that they use to make sugar syrup for indian sweets. Putting it in a very lame way, after a few minutes of bubbling, you are supposed to squeeze the boiling sugar (ouch! ) between your thumb and index finger and count the number of strings formed to know if the right consistency has been reached.Again, something which comes with experience.
Making this chikki from scratch has been one of the most brave things I have done this summer. Studded with lots of nuts and seeds, edible gum resin (gond), not only is this good for you, but you can play around with the type and quantity of nuts in the recipe. Do make this delicious snackage for the upcoming winter months, it promises to keep you warm and happy.
In my family, makana or foxnuts and coconut are the main ingredients in making this.Read about foxnuts in one of my earlier posts here.
Edible Gum or gond is an extract from the bark of gum tree and is used a lot in indian sweets. It is either white or brown in color, crystal like. When cooked in oil, it puffs up like popcorn and turns opaque. It provides heat to the body and is usually eaten in cold winter months. In India, it is very much used during postpartum of women since it strengthens the body and helps in lactation of new mothers.
2 cups makhana (foxnuts), roughly chopped
2 tbsp gond (edible gum resin)
3/4 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup coconut shavings
1/4 cup melon seeds
3/4 cup raisins
3 tbsp ghee, divided
1/3 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
few saffron strands soaked in 1/2 tbsp of warm water (optional)
Also needed – Any well-greased plate/thaali or simply line your brownie sheet with parchment.
If you are using edible gum,make sure that it is completely dry (you can keep it in sun for few hours), else it will not bloom well when you roast it.
Feel free to use any kind of nuts or seeds in this recipe. If you cannot find foxnuts or edible gum, you can increase the quantity of coconut, almond or walnut by equivalent amount.
Use sunflower/pumpkin/pepitas in place of melon seeds.
Add crasins, dried cherries, cranberries, dehydrated blueberries or raspberries to this recipe.
In a heavy bottomed pan or kadhai, on low-medium heat, warm up 1 tbsp of ghee. Add the sliced foxnuts and lightly roast on low heat for 2-3 minutes till you smell the aroma. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add another 1/2 tbsp of ghee in the kadhai and add almonds, walnuts and coconut shavings to it. Lightly roast on low heat for 2-3 minutes till you smell the aroma. Take care that the nuts do not change color. Transfer to the large bowl.
Next, on very low heat add another 1 tbsp of ghee and add the gond crystals. Keep on stirring constantly, the crystals will puff up and turn opaque as they roast. This will take about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to the large bowl.
Add the remaining 1/2 tbsp of ghee to the kadhai and roast the melon seeds on low heat for 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the raisins. Stir again for 1 minutes or so. Transfer to the large bowl.
Mix all the roasted nuts and seeds well in the large bowl and let sit for 5-8 minutes so that they cool down a bit.
Keep your greased plate or parchment lined dish ready.I used a 9′ X 2′ brownie pan to set the chikki.
Pour water and sugar into the kadhai next and bring to a boil on medium heat. When the sugar starts to bubble around the edges, add cardamom powder, soaked saffron and reduce heat and let simmer for about 2-3 minutes.Remove from heat and immediately pour over the roasted nuts. Stir everything quickly using a spatula so that the nuts are coated in sugar and transfer to the setting plate/pan. Lightly press with hands or spoon to spread out to a uniform thickness. Let sit at room temperature to completely cool down.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
You can leave the fudge as it is or use any kind of nuts,semi sweet chocolate , edible silver/gold foil for garnishing.