Diwali Dhamaka

If Diwali is around the corner, can food and fun be far behind! My team is excited about the challenge thrown to them…create an innovative Indian dish in under 2 hours! This is on coming Tuesday. Will also be having a havan on next Monday. Long time since we have had one in the office and so it will be a good thing. Then some break from work for everyone!
Last week, spent some time in Aurangabad giving a demonstration of recipes at the MGM Institute of Hotel Management. Yes, my new offering was a hare choliye ki pani puri!
So what is cooking this Diwali! Tell you, there is hope in the air as even the rising prices have not been able to dampen the festive spirit. The markets are aglow with sale of diyas and electric lahrees, the saree shops seem to be always packed (!) and soon we will see the same rush in mithai shops….
Wherever you turn, you witness some innovation in the food offered to you. The palate is growing at such a fast pace that restaurateurs are on their toes! People want new foods, new tastes and textures and I really think this is time that food is shining in India. But let us not forget the traditional greats. If we do not make them at home, how will our children learn about them and continue cooking them for the future generation? I urge you to write down all your grandma’s recipes, your mother’s recipes, your mother in law’s recipes, your elder sister’s recipes, your aunties’ recipes….whatever you can get hold of…because soon we will be floundering under so many fusions and innovations that our great cultural heritage will be ignored. I do take documentation quite seriously and hence so many books. Have you seen the latest book Cooking with Love which carries food cooked by my mother and mother in law? It is a cherished treasure for me.
So, as the mood goes, let us look at the good old home made Diwali treats. Go for them!


Till I write again.
Sanjeev Kapoor.

Karanjis and gujiyas – recipes for this Diwali

Karanjis are half moon shaped mithais with fluted ends: unmistakable pieces of art that bring joy every Diwali. Interestingly, these were made exactly the same way in ancient times as today but then they were called ‘samyavas’. There is mention in ‘Kalpastham’ of Shri Sarth Charak Samhita about ‘Karanjis’ and ‘Anarsas’ and their ingredients like cardamoms, aniseeds, dry coriander and cinnamon having medicinal values.
Call the Maharashtrian karanji, gujiya in Hindi and ghughra in Gujarati, the name might change but the basic structure and content remains similar. Made with superfine flour covering, it is the stuffing that adds variety. In Maharashtra, stuffing is prepared with lightly roasted fine semolina, grated dry or fresh coconut, sugar and lots of sliced dry fruits. In North India, a stuffing of khoya (mawa) is preferred. What with an eye-catching shape, karanjis are consumed almost as soon as they are ready. Mawa Gujiya does not have shelf life whereas karanjis with a well roasted nutty filling will keep well in airtight containers for a week or so.
Here is old fashioned Coconut Karanji also called Ole Naralachi Karanji.
Sieve 1 cup refined flour (maida) into a bowl. Add 1½ tablespoons semolina (rava) and 4 tablespoons ghee and mix with fingertips till mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Knead into semi-soft dough with ¼ cup milk and sufficient water. Once the dough is ready, cover it with a damp cloth and keep it aside for half an hour. For stuffing, roast 1 cup scraped coconut in a non stick pan till lightly browned. Add 15-20 chopped raisins, 1 cup powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon green cardamom powder and mix well. Let it cool. Knead the dough once again and divide into twelve small balls. Roll out each ball into a circle, place it in a greased karanji mould. Place a small portion of the prepared filling in the hollow. Apply a little water on edges, close the mould and press firmly. Heat sufficient ghee in a kadai and fry the karanjis till crisp and golden brown on medium heat. Drain on absorbent paper and allow to cool before storing in an airtight container.
For adding variety to your karanji collection do try Date And Anjeer Baked Karanji and Chocolate and Nuts Karanji too.

Sweet offerings for Diwali

As Diwali draws near, there is so much talk about making mithais at home this year! Well, kaju katli is a personal favourite but let us veer away from the ordinary and make Badam Katli.
Of all nut based mithais Badam Katli is becoming quite a rage. And at one time I used to wonder why? And then I decided to go a little bit in depth researching it. The best is made of a delicate mixture of coarsely ground almond powder and powdered sugar. Some more in-depth research gave me the info that the almonds should be of topmost quality as also the grinding of it be done in short bursts of the grinder so that the heat generated does not harm the flavours which will begin to emanate once the almonds undergo the grind. Badam Katli, per se, is dull in colour, the upper layer prettied up with silver warq, shaped like diamonds and more important, as thin as one eighth of an inch.
For me the best Badam Katli is the one my wife Alyona makes at home. I have always maintained there is nothing like ghar ka khana and that is the absolute truth. Not only that, one can get more quantity for a lesser price! So this Diwali, let’s roll out sweet carpets of silver covered badam katli and treat our loved ones to home made mithai. For more such recipes click on Kaju Katli, Blueberry Sandwich Katli, Badami Besan ke Laddoo
How to make Badam Katli:
Blanch 250 grams almonds in two cups of boiling water for five minutes. Drain and peel. Spread the almonds on an absorbent towel to dry. Once completely dried, dry roast the almonds in a non stick pan for about seven minutes or till fragrant and light brown. Cool and powder. This makes (yield 190 grams). Cook 190 grams (¾ cup) sugar with three fourth cup of water in another non stick pan, stirring continuously till the sugar dissolves. Add 1 tablespoon milk and when the scum rises to the top, remove it with a ladle and discard. Cook the syrup till it reaches multi-thread or hard ball consistency. Take the pan off the heat and add the almond powder and 1¼ teaspoons liquid glucose and mix well. Continue to mix till the mixture is smooth and pliable. Transfer the mixture onto a flat surface and spread to cool a bit. Knead with your hands. Grease a table top with ghee and roll out the mixture to about quarter inch thickness taking care that the same thickness is maintained throughout. Rub the surface with butter paper. Decorate with silver varq, cut into diamonds and serve.