Mawa Gujiya

Deep fried pastry purse with a nutmeg flavored nuts and dried milk filling

[maa waah; goo jee yeah] (hindi)
If you are wondering why I haven’t kept up with my usual pace of posting recipes, I agree to have been quite preoccupied lately. But, I have reason to stay away from the laptop and get outdoors.
My Attayya (mom-in-law in Telugu) is with us on a visit. Sure, it means my kitchen is busier than usual and we are having a ball of a time enjoying a whole lot of yummy food. Why should I have all the fun by myself? I want you to be a part of it too and hence in the coming weeks, you’ll get to see dishes from her repertoire featured here.
Attayya is a very versatile cook herself. Having well-travelled within India and abroad, her cooking reflects her unending enthusiasm for learning and sheer excitement for life. She is a foodie from any angle and her expansive culinary repository is the result of an insatiable curiosity and an open mind for experimenting with ingredients.
From the Punjabi chana masala to a Tamil Brahmin Adhirasam, or an Andhra pachadi to a Bengali dal, from cakes and brownies to ice creams and cold coffees, Italian or Middle Eastern – talk about anything and I’m sure she’ll have something to add. Very swift in the kitchen, she whips up dishes out of thin air in no time. I know, those are too large a shoes to fill!
Hope you enjoy her dishes as much as we do.

During one of our grocery shopping explorations, we also happened to bring home frozen mawa from the Indian store a couple of weeks back. And since then, we’ve been on a sweet roll of Gulab Jamun made fresh from scratch (not from a mix), Mawa Gujiya, Mawa Payash and more are in the pipeline.
Call them Gujiya, Kadubu, Karjikai, or even the Mexican Empanadas, they are birds of the same feather – deep-fried stuffed pastry, only the stuffing/filling makes them different as they can be.
Even though I have eaten Karida Kadubu or Karigadubu (Kannada), a sibling of the Gujiyas, for every Ganesha festival since I can remember, my interest spiked when Attayya described the stuffing for this one. It is a given that any milk based sweet is bound to be scrumptious, but the pairing of nutmeg with Mawa sounded rather fanciful and got me wanting for it.
As far as I have known (which could be very less for all you know!), the use of nutmeg in Indian sweets is few and far between in comparison to cardamom and saffron. In fact, for a long time, I had even assumed that nutmeg is best suited for home remedies and Ayurvedic medicine, which in fact is also true. Only after opening my mind to American cuisine did I grasp how ubiquitous this zippy spice is.
Mawa /Khova/ Khoya / Khoa are all but the same names for solidified milk made of either dried whole milk or milk thickened by heating in an open iron pan. More from wiki here.
Mawa/Khova is part and parcel of each and every regional Indian cuisine in various avatars. Because milk and sugar marry so well, Khova forms the key ingredient in copious varieties of rich sweets.
 Mawa gujiyas are a popular sweet prepared categorically during Holi, the Indian festival of colors to usher in a colorful spring and leave behind the harsh winter.
Mawa gujiyas are novel to me, but owing to how oh-so-delish they are, they are sure to be part of my recipe collection for a long time to come and of nostalgic stories to be shared in the future.

                  

{Lovely half-moon shaped ornate pastry purses ready to be deep-fried}
In north India or other parts where it is popular, readily available gujiya molds are used to render the process of pressing and sealing them easier. Here, I describe a method for hand-made gujiyas, without the use of such molds. Agreed it takes a bit longer, yet not a wee bit less yummy!
Need a hint on how this glistening golden snack tastes? Crunchy on the outside, crumbly on the inside with the mild salty outside meeting its sweet inside – an inter fusion of contrasting tastes in a mouthful, to please your palate.
Enough said.
Being the conscious eater that I am (or I was before eating them!), I must’ve downed at least 5 before I swore not to go near them – they are god-damn delicious!
Beware, you won’t stop at one.
Now, tell me about your most favorite Mawa/Khova preparation that you can never resist?

Mawa Gujiya Recipe

makes about 20 gujiyas
Printable Recipe
Things you’ll need:
oil for deep-frying (I used pure peanut oil)
for the dough
  • 2 cups chiroti rava /fine sooji/fine semolina or all-purpose flour (maida)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp ghee/butter/oil
  • pinch of turmeric ~ optional
  • water
for the filling
  • 1/2 cup crumbled mawa/khova/khoya (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/4 powdered raw almonds
  • 1/4 cup powdered cashews
  • 1/4 cup desiccated coconut/ grated copra (sun-dried coconut)
  • 1-1/4 cup powdered/confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp powdered cardamom (about 4-5 pods)
other kitchen equipment
  • rolling-pin
  • kadai/heavy bottomed pan for deep-frying
Prep work
If using frozen mawa, microwave for 20-30 secs or let sit on the counter for 20-30 mins to thaw. Once thawed, gently squish with your fingers making sure to break all the lumps for a crumbled Mawa. If using freshly home made Mawa, make sure it is crumbly before use.
Pulse almonds in a blender/mixer for a few times until it resembles a coarse flour or corn meal. Do not run the blender continuously or you will end up with almond butter.
Ditto for the cashews.
Peel open cardamom pods and powder the seeds using a mortar and pestle.
How it’s done:
In a mixing bowl, mix chiroti rava /fine sooji with salt and turmeric, if you chose to. If using all purpose flour, sieve first. Add in your preferred fat and mix well. I prefer home-made ghee if not, pure butter, though oil is a pretty good substitute too. Using little water at a time, mix the dough to a chapati/roti consistency and set aside covered. Dough should be soft to touch but not sticky.
In another medium bowl, mix together all of ‘for the filling’ ingredients.
Slap the dough a few times on the rolling board or a clean counter and knead well. Divide the dough into portions the size of small key limes or about 1-½” diameter.
for the gujiyas,
Roll the dough into thin circles without using flour for dusting. For perfect round circles, cut out the rolled dough either using a round mold or any cup/container that fits the circumference. Prick it all over gently with a fork, which prevents it from bloating when deep-fried and later from losing its crunch.
Delicately spoon the filling on one half of the rolled dough. Wet the edges of the rolled dough with a few drops of water. Close by bringing both ends of the rolled dough together and press firmly to seal the edges making sure no air is trapped between the filling and the sealed edges.
Either press the edges with a fork or pinch and fold with your fingers to make ornate edges for this dough purse.
Heat oil in a kadai or heavy bottom pan on medium. When the oil is hot enough or shimmering, add a small pinch of dough to check, if it rises immediately, oil is ready for action.
Drop gujiyas one or two at a time and deep fry on medium until golden brown.  Remove onto a tissue to strain extra oil and let cool slightly before serving or the stuffing inside may be very hot.

Don’ts

Try not to use flour for dusting unless rolling the dough is almost impossible, in which case the dough might be sticky. Add a little flour to the dough, a few drops of oil and knead well until dough is of the required consistency.
Extra flour for dusting is best avoided to prevent it from getting burnt when deep-fried and clinging to the gujiya.

Note

Do not discard cardamom skin, use it in lemonade or drop it in the simmering tea for a delicate flavor.
Gujiyas store well for up to 10 days in an airtight container.

Aromas of freshly grated nutmeg and ground cardamom take the sweet to a whole new level. Use of fresh spices cannot be stressed enough.

I prefer using a small to medium size kadai (wok) for deep-frying. Due to its concave shape, lesser oil is required to fry with negligible oil leftover saving me from oil reuse.

 for variation, dried fruits like sultana raisins and even chocolate shavings make a grand addition
If you are interested in making Mawa/Khova fresh at home from scratch, Chef in You takes you step by step on How to make Khoya at home

Mawa Gujiya is off to “Your Best Recipe” – May Roundup held by Nancy of Spicie Foodie
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Rave Unde | Rava Laddoo

Saffron and Cardamom flavored Sweet Semolina Balls

[ruh way ; oohn day] (kannada)
Simple – check; Easy to make – check; Tasty – check.
In comparison to all other traditional South Indian sweets, this one is distinct – in its simplicity, ease of preparation as well as minimal active cooking required.
There couldn’t be a sweet more humble than Rave Unde. Let’s just say it is.

And because it involves shaping dough like mix into balls, it makes a perfect no-fuss preparation to involve your little budding chef(s) in the kitchen as your assistant. It’ll be fun, I promise!
I normally don’t make open promises like I just did. Not that I can’t keep them, but let’s just say I don’t. I just go about doing things. Anyway, there’s a reason I said that for.
The few times I remember distinctly when Rave Unde was sure to be made at home was during Gokulashtami (festival celebrating Lord Sri Krishna’s birth). To us, this was a festival of gastronomical proportions where sweets and savouries of at least twenty varieties were lined up as an offering to the Lord. And, a huge joint family meant that any help from all members of the house, irrespective of age, however small the contribution, was greatly appreciated. Now comes the fun part. And when Rave Unde was to be made, the main cook (my aunt) and her associates (her younger sisters) would be less interested in ‘menial’ jobs like shaping the dough mix into balls. That is where we (my brothers too) would happily pitch in and feel proud to have been part of the festival kitchen conundrum.
Those are a few of my most cherished kitchen memories from childhood. Now, you get my promise?

If you can keep this between us, let me tell you something. If I can count one sweet food I hated the most, growing up, it wouldn’t be any other than Rave Unde. I know, right?
But, times have changed and so have I. To be honest, I have surprised myself by my increased liking for it and more so, the number of times I have made it more than I expected.
I could never think of eating Rave Unde plain i.e. without the fruit and nut garnish
psst: I ate Rave Unde as a child only for the cashews and raisins in them!. So, those are indispensable, if I must say.

 Cardamom and Saffron are such classic eastern flavors. Saffron lends the faint sunshine yellow color to Rave Unde along with its mellow floral aroma.
Every time I crush saffron between my finger tips, however caught up I am in the recipe, I pause for a few seconds (if not for minutes) to smell its pleasantly out of the world aroma – it feels as if I am smelling a beautiful golden red sunset!
Skip if you must, but what is a sweet with its aroma and hue stripped?
 Totally out of context, yet it will be a shame if I don’t say a word about them. Those little dainty blue flowers my friend, are none other than the Texas Blue Bonnets. They are pretty big a deal here in Texas.
In a slightly broader sense, Blue Bonnets : Texas :: Cherry Blossoms : New York

April showers are expected to bring blue bonnets (not may flowers) here. Though this April saw a drought instead of the showers, we were lucky to spot a whole field full of them. Pretty pretty, aren’t they?


 I never met a Rave Unde that did not like raisins and cashews. This fruit and nut couple is a marriage made in heaven. Wherever they go as a couple, they are sure to transform anything they come in contact with. Need I say anything different for Rave Unde?
That is my little girl’s hand trying to grab a cashew in between photo shoots. Just couldn’t keep from posting here.
 If you never ate Rave Unde once, there’s absolutely no harm in trying it.
Assuming you are familiar with it, what kind of nostalgic childhood memories do you associate with Rave Unde?

Rave Unde | Rava Laddoo Recipe

Printable Recipe
Things you’ll need:
  • 1 cup chiroti* rava / fine semolina / fine sooji
  • 1 cup powdered/confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh/frozen grated coconut
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 8-10 cashews, broken into small bits
  • 1 tbsp golden raisins or more
  • 5-6 strands saffron
  • 3-4 cardamom pods, freshly ground
Prep work:
Keep the cashew bits about half the size of a raisin. I use kitchen scissors or a traditional Indian nut cracker for this job.
Wash and pat dry golden raisins. If not for the dirt, it makes them softer for the semolina balls to hold them well without dropping out.
A mortar and pestle brings out the best freshly ground cardamom. The one I have is of marble and I bank on it for all such small grinding work.
If using frozen coconut, thaw in the microwave for 10-20 secs or let sit on the counter for 30 mins before use.

How it’s done:

If milk is not pasteurized, bring it to a boil else heat milk until just steaming either on a stove top or in a microwave. Crush the strands of saffron between your finger tips into the milk, cover and let sit to infuse.
Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed pan or kadai on medium-high heat. Do not let the ghee smoke at any point. When ghee is hot enough or shimmering, add broken cashew bits and fry until just golden brown. Strain and keep aside. To the same hot ghee, add fine semolina and roast on medium heat until fragrant and golden brown. Remove into a large mixing bowl. Even though it might seem like forever, try not to increase the heat higher or owing to its fine grade, rava/sooji will get burnt.
To the same kadai, add freshly grated coconut and roast until fragrant and all the moisture is gone. Remove on to the roasted rava.
Add washed golden raisins, fried cashew bits, ground cardamom, powdered sugar and give a good stir to mix all the dry ingredients well. Spoon some of this dry mix onto the bowl or plate of fried cashews and scoop away any residual ghee. There’s no place for wastage in an Indian kitchen!
Now for the main part, divide the dry mix into two sections. Make a small well in one part of the mix and add milk a tbsp at a time mixing fast simultaneously until you can just mold into a ball with your fingers and cupped palm. Too much milk and you’ll find it is very easy to mold, but when cooled Rave Unde will turn out to be rock solid and hard to bite as you can imagine.

The right consistency is when it can hold its shape but crumbles on pressure. If you get this right, Rave unde should melt in the mouth and then you’ll get to bite on the fried cashews and soft golden raisins.

To make a perfect round ball, first cup in your palm, roll and move with your fingers while applying pressure within the cupped palm until it appears round enough. Arrange all the balls on a plate and let cool.

Store in an airtight container when cooled and consume within 3-4 days.

Don’ts

Do not mix all the milk at one time, just go with one tbsp at a time.
Do not substitute ghee with oil preferably. The sweet nutty flavor of ghee is a must addition to the taste of Rave Unde.
Avoid using granulated sugar as it will not blend with sooji/rava as well as powdered sugar.
Note
If you do not have / have run out of confectioner’s sugar, just run regular granulated sugar in a blender until super fine
Cardamom is best when freshly ground. Avoid buying ground cardamom from the store, as it loses its fragrance on the shelf rather quickly.
To skip stove top rava roasting, instead microwave rava/sooji spread on a microwave safe plate for 2-3 mins in 3o sec intervals, stirring in between intervals.
Though people do make it even with Upma rava/sooji which is a thicker grade of rava, I prefer to make it only with fine rava for its melt in the mouth texture.
Desiccated coconut is a good alternative to fresh grated coconut, if not available.

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Yugadi Festive Menu

Happy Yugadi!

On the eve of this special day, let me wish you in Kannada:
ಯುಗಾದಿ ಹಬ್ಬದ ಶುಭಾಷಯಗಳು - “Yugadi Habbada ShubhashayagaLu”
(Greetings for the festival of Yugadi)
or
ಹೊಸ ವರ್ಷದ ಶುಭಾಷಯಗಳು – “Hosa varshada shubhashayagaLu”
(Greetings on the New Year)
courtesy: Wiki

I wonder where March went?

Yugadi, the first day of the Hindu calendar celebrated as the Hindu New Year in Karnataka (also in Andhra and in Maharashtra as Gudi Padwa) is already here. Marked by fresh Neem flowers and leaves and the scent of tender Mango sprigs and doors decorated with festoons made of Mango leaves pinned next to each other with Neem sprigs at the corner (Taliru Torana), Yugadi is unique in the way it is celebrated and the seasonal changes it brings along.

Back at a time when we were kids and the mall culture was very much absent in India, a big festival like Yugadi (only second to Sankranthi on the english calendar year) was much-anticipated for not only the lip smacking festive menu but more so for the new clothes.

And to me, the best part of Yugadi was the lure of fresh Mangoes ripe and raw. Come Yugadi, it was a green signal to consume Mangoes although Mangoes hit the market earlier. It is believed (even now and is weirdly true) that Mangoes taste best (read sweet) only after the first rain of Yugadi.

Whatever said and done, nothing comes close to the revelry of the childhood days..
Yugadi in those days had its rhythm:
Tradition of starting the day with Abhyanga snana (head-to-toe oil (sesame and castor oil mix) massage followed by near-scalding hot water bath), how good it was!
Wearing new clothes adorned with a pinch of turmeric to mark an auspicious occasion
Witnessing Aaradhanai – a special pooja accompanied with rhythmic bell ringing performed by my Taatha (maternal grand dad) and receive Teertham (holy water)
Eating Bevu-Bella (a mix of Neem and Jaggery) with a bitter squint in the eye
Last but certainly not the least, feasting on each and every item on the festive menu, especially Obbattu
Yugadi is also the day of unveiling the new Panchangam (Hindu almanac).
Yugadi signifies leaving the old behind and ringing in the new.
Starting the day with a head to toe bath symbolizes “to start afresh” and the same is extended by virtue of wearing new clothes.
Bevu Bella (Neem – Jaggery) is essentially a symbolic of stark opposites, sweet and bitter or the representation of happiness and sorrow in life. It is a token of acceptance of the basic truth that Life is neither always sweet nor bitter and to begin the New Year with that expectation and accept both equally with good grace.

Where I am, I have access neither to Neem or the Indian Alphonsos. I get to celebrate Yugadi in all its vigor thanks to the Mexican Mangoes (not bad, you know!) and a small stash of dried Neem flowers, courtesy of a generous friend.

Once again, Wish you a very Happy Yugadi and a peaceful New Year!

The world has tasted enough bitter already, May this Yugadi bring sweet peace and compassion the world over.

Yugadi Festive Menu

Undoubtedly, Yugadi menu highlights seasonal produce – Mangoes.
Here’s a festive Yugadi menu suggestion from my kitchen to yours… Well, having grown up on such an elaborate one, I just couldn’t help it!
Bevu Bella (recipe follows)
Steamed Rice

Homemade Ghee

Hesarubele Carrot Kosambari
Rasaayana
plain dal (paruppu)
Vaazhakkai Mor Kozhambu
Maangai Thokku
Nimbe Saaru (without garlic)
Kaduhu Ohre with grated green mangoes
Ambode (without onion)
Kharjoor Badam Kheer
Obbattu

Bakala Baath

Bevu Bella Recipe:

Things you’ll need:
  • Neem flowers fresh or dried
  • tender Neem leaves ~ optional
  • Jaggery crushed or powdered
  • Ghee

How it’s done:

Crush Neem flowers and tender Neem leaves with your finger tips and mix it with a dot of ghee and crushed jaggery in equal amounts.

Note Bevu Bella is eaten in small quantities, about 1/2 tsp per person, hence made accordingly.

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