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Gujiyas (Indian Fried Pies or sweet empanada)

Posted by vivnidhi on March 21, 2010

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Gujiyas

This post has been lying in my drafts for months now. Yes, my dear blog turned two this November but I could not post anything or even celebrate for that matter. To make the long story short, we all kept falling sick and prey to almost all the bugs around. This certainly has been a very healthy year for the bugs, specially in Michigan. Let me shut the hypochondriac in my brain who wants to enlist every detail of the past months, starting from the no. of coughs per minutes to the boxes of tissues used and move on to better things I can share with you.

In December I attended Michigan Lady Food Bloggers (MLFB) cookie exchange which was real fun.The no. of cookies I brought back home cheered everyone like nothing else could. Check out  Kate’s blog for the photographs and you can absolutely drool at ALL the cookies ….. All the cookies were delicious! I made (as usual) roasted almond macarons with chocolate ganache. I think almost all got over baked. Yet, with all that sugar, how bad can a badly baked macaron taste ?…….so it wasn’t too bad :-) .

Moving on…….to an authentic old Indian treat “Gujiya” . I have interesting stories up my sleeve regarding the gujiya or pirakiya.  I grew up watching my Grandmother (Dadda)  and my Mother make gujiya for most festivals. Dadda would always fill it and close it while my Mom would make the dough, the filling and even fry it. My Mom cannot close a gujiya, she never felt the need to learn it :-) . Closing the gujiya or making the ‘curved pattern’ is called “Murri Banana” meaning making murri. The good thing is that I know how to make murri somewhat. [You bet, as if  I will leave the chance to brag ;-) .]  In my grandmother’s generation, when a girl (Indian girls then would be married at a very early age i.e. 13-14…..I am talking 1930′s) would be married, she would be asked to make gujiyas and the way her gujiya looked and tasted would be a measure of her competence in the kitchen. As I heard this story almost every year, I thought I better learn to make it well (lest I be judged on the same basis ;-) ) and so I coaxed Dadda to teach it to me. Well! till my last gujiya making stint with her, she was never really pleased with my murri. She always said mine was ok cause it would not open up but I could do better.  So, see I could have actually done without bragging :-) . There’s always a gujiya mold available in Indian stores which seals the gujiya well and one need not make murri etc. but I have never used it. An Empanada mold would be perfect too.

Fast forward to my first year after marriage…….the first year on Diwali, I planned to make gujiyas. I really thought to myself,”big deal” I have always helped Dadda and Mummy make it. I made a few and took them to the husband’s aunt (Masiji’s ) place. Oh, were they sweet(no, not the gujiyas……..my husband’s Aunt & Uncle)….. my gujiyas were really soft and I have blanked out on the filling now. Masiji just put all the gujiyas in the oven and I think transformed it into something edible somehow. Then I kept making gujiyas every year and I doubt I ever really got it right. Either the dough would be soft or I would fry on a higher temperature or I would play with the filling , I was always unsatisfied and a bit hesitant to offer it to others. 3 years later came my Mother-In-Law who actually taught me how to make the real thing. Since then, I have been successful consistently. Nothing beats practice.

The Recipe: (For about 30 gujiyas)

For the Shell:

  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 4 Tbsp. Canola Oil
  • 1/4 cup Water + /- 2 Tbsp. water

For the Filing:

  • 200 g Khoya/Mava (Indian cooked dried milk) cut in small cubes
  • 1/2 cup dry fruits (cashews, almonds, pistachios) slivered, sliced thin
  • 1/4 cup raisins (green/golden ones are preferable )
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Cardamom powder (I even crush the cardamom seeds using a rolling pin when in hurry)
  • Canola/Vegetable  Oil for frying

For the binder:

  • 2 Tbsp. All Purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water

To make the shell dough:

Add the oil to the all purpose flour and rub the mixture between the palms of your hands. The oil should be uniformly distributed in the flour and should resemble fine bread crumbs.

Add the water slowly to the flour and make a stiff dough. It is important to knead the dough well for good gujiyas. A good tip for all such dough is to set aside a tsp. of oil initially and then at the very end add it in a corner of the plate you are using to knead. The dough is then broken in 2 -3 pieces and then made smooth by touching those pieces with the oil in the corner till all the oil is absorbed. Cover the dough and let it rest for 1/2 an hour while the filling is prepared.

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Stiff gujiya dough

To make the filling:

Heat a wok or a saucepan on medium heat (no. 5 mark) and add the khoya (milk solids) in it.

Use a spatula to break the big lumps of the khoya.

Keep frying the khoya till it turns golden brown. The heat can be reduced a little bit if you are not able to stir all the khoya to (no. 4 mark). Once the khoya turns brown, add the nuts, raisins and cardamom powder.

Let the mixture cool and then add sugar to the mixture. The sugar amount can be varied as per taste too.

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Store bought Khoya / Mawa

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Khoya cut into cubes

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Adding nuts and raisins to fried Khoya….we do not want to brown it too much at this stage

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Khoya, nuts, raisins and cardamom…….filling’s ready…it will be crumbly when dry

 

To make the Gujiyas:

First prepare the binder paste by mixing the all purpose flour and water. Set it aside.

The dough should be more pliable now as it has rested (goes same as humans ;-) ). Break the dough into 30 equal parts and keep rounding them with your palms as you are breaking. Cover the broken and rounded dough with a moist cloth so that they do not dry too much.

Using a rolling pin, roll each dough ball into a round about 2.5″ in diameter.

Apply the binder paste along the edges. Use your index finger to dip in the binder paste and then spread it around the circumference of the rolled out round.

Add about 1 Tbsp. of the filling into the round and fold the round into a semicircle now. At this step, you can either press all the edges hard so that they do not open, or use a gujiya mold ( empanada mold) or make a murri. The murri is made by pulling very small portions of the dough edge and rolling it over the edges. Honestly, it is a little difficult to write about it, its easier to learn when seen. I shall try someday to insert a video here but that has to wait. Keep the prepared gujiya aside and cover with a moist towel while you prepare the other gujiyas.

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Almost round ;-) dough and filling

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Folding and closing in process

The wok or frying pan should at least have 2″ of oil. Start heating the oil on medium heat as you prepare the gujiyas. Once 5 or 6 gujiyas are ready, add them to the oil. Drop a tiny dough piece to check the oil. It should not be so hot that the dough ball comes to the surface at once. The oil should be just hot enough that the dough ball stays immersed for about 30 seconds. You should be able to see the bubbles as you add the dough piece. Lower the heat just a little bit to about medium low (gas mark 4) and fry the gujiyas till golden and crisp.

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Gujiyas in hot oil

Serve hot or at room temperature. These gujiyas keep well for at least 2 weeks in an airtight container.

These gujiyas are sometimes further dipped in sugar syrup. The consistency of the sugar syrup varies. The sugar syrup can be quite dry or even a little liquid resulting in different tasting gujiyas. I most often like it without the extra sugar though the other kinds have their own place in my heart ;-) .

If you have made any dumpling, empanada, sweet pie before, please do try this simple filling. It is extra-ordinary. No coconut, semolina….yet these will taste quite good. Most North Indians make it on Holi, the festival of colors….ah well for the next year now!

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Only pictures for now ;-)

 

Posted in -All Purpose flour, -Almonds, -Canola Oil, -Cardamom, -Cashews, -Khoya/Mava (Milk solids), -Pistachios, -Raisins | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Winter Squash Puli or Coconut Stuffed Gulab Jamun

Posted by vivnidhi on March 12, 2009

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Wish you all a very colorful & Happy Holi

Yesterday was the festival of colors Holi. In India, almost every household would be full of unrecognizable children colored with every shade in the spectrum. My Kids here in Michigan managed playing with dry colors and still coloring the kitchen walls and their clothes :-). If you want to know more about Holi this wikipedia article is great! I have written too many essays on “My Favorite Festival” on Holi and the Wikipedia article is quite comprehensive.

One cannot welcome the coming of spring (  ;-) Summer in India) without sweets. I wanted something simple and was happy when I discovered a GITS Gulab Jamun pack in the cupboard. Gulab Jamuns are very soft fried dumplings made of milk solids. The milk solid could either be dried milk powder or more traditionally Khoya (very thick milk, almost solid). I find the GITS mix to be the easiest and the best. There are very few things that I use from a premade mix but Gulab Jamun mix is definitely one of those. Its quite foolproof whereas in homemade ones, a little change in ratio can result in the sugar syrup not reaching the center of the sweet.

My relationship with making Gulab Jamuns is very old ;-) . I made Gulab Jamuns for the entire class & the teachers as a team leader in class 8 (part of work experience). You bet that did wonders to my confidence as a cook :-). Then onwards I have made Gulab Jamuns very often. At potlucks I am always asked to get these. While I oblige, I am bored of making more of the same. ( I get bored of cooking the same thing very very easy ;-) ) Now, don’t talk about Roti & Arhar ki Daal, that’s the staple ;-)

OK, First though I am rewriting the recipe as per what I did with it, full credit for this recipe goes to Sury’s Ranga Alur Puli of (Lima) Beans and Delhi Cha(a)t and Indira’s sweet potato Gulab Jamuns of Mahanandi. I remembered reading on Indira’s blog (I have read her’s back to front ;-) ) about some sweet potatoes and gulab jamuns so I went back to hers and checked out Sury’s too.

Give all the food bloggers 1 recipe and you will find unimaginable variations as results. That is what happened with me. Now , Ranga Alur Puli in Bengali should certainly mean colored potato sweet treat. I started working on Sury’s and Indira’s recipe and here’s what I ended up making. I don’t know what to call it and don’t care how it looks but it tastes absolutely fabulous. The husband commented that it tastes like coconut laddoo rolled in a gulab jamun :-).

 

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What do you want to call it?

Fried pumpkin pie with coconut , anyone? ………..well Stuffed Gulab Jamuns is good enough!

So, I used butternut squash in the mix with Gulab Jamun mix and of course some spices. Stuffed it with coconut, almond, raisin, milk mixture and dunked it in sugar syrup with cardamom.

The Recipe: (Makes 35 large stuffed gulab jamuns )

For the Jamuns/Pulis/Gujiyas (what do U want to call it?)

  • GITS Gulab Jamun mix 250 g (any other brand would be fine, GITS is my favorite)
  • Butternut squash 125 g (cut in half, bake for 1 hour, cool, peel and puree)……….yeah………..that’s it ;-)
  • Ground Cinnamon 1 tsp.
  • Ground nutmeg 1 tsp.
  • Canola Oil 2 Tbsp.
  • Oil for frying 3 cups

For the Stuffing:

  • Sweetened flaked Coconut 4 oz. (1/2 cup)  or substitute Fresh grated coconut
  • Fat free Evaporated milk 8 oz (1 cup) or substitute whole milk
  • Raisins 1/2 cup
  • Ground almonds 1/2 cup

For the sugar syrup:

  • Sugar 800 g / 3.5 cups
  • water 1 liter/ 4 cups
  • Cardamom 5 powdered

1. So, one day before making the gulab jamuns, I cut the butternut squash in half, removed the seeds and baked it for approximately an hour till the flesh was really soft. After it cooled , I peeled it and pureed it in a blender. Smooth, silky puree is ready. This puree could be used for soups or gravies also. Baking increases the sweetness of the squash and hence this method. A sweet pumpkin would be a great substitute too. This puree helps make rich gulab jamuns without the use of ghee.

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Butternut squash before baking and after baking

2. Mix all the stuffing ingredients in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for a total of 6 minutes. Microwave in 1 minute / 30 seconds intervals initially and mix. When the mixture is sticky and not liquidy, the stuffing is ready.

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Coconut stuffing ingredients

3. Mix the gulab jamun mix with the spices and mix well breaking any lumps with the hands. Add the pumpkin puree and mix. The dough will be quite sticky. Take the 2 Tbsp. oil and spread it in the palms of your hands and try to bring the mix together into one mass. Break off 35 pieces from the dough of equal size. Use more oil for the hands as required to avoid the stickiness. Make a thin round from the broken dough pieces using the tips of the fingers. Add 1/2 Tbsp. filling in each round and fold the round into a semicircle. Any shape that pleases the heart would be good. I made it into a semicircle based on Sury’s description and then just raised the edges for some pattern. Make sure there are no cracks on the surface. Cover with a moist towel to prevent drying up of the prepared jamuns.

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Stuffed Gulab jamuns…..ready for frying

4. Add the sugar syrup ingredients in a deep vessel and let it heat up on medium heat till the sugar dissolves and then reduce the heat to very low.

5. Heat oil in a fryer or a wok as the sugar syrup is being made.When a very small piece of dough dropped in oil does not stick to the bottom and bubbles up immediately, the oil is ready. reduce the heat to medium. Add the stuffed prepared jamuns one by one slowly and continuously turn them with a very light hand making sure that it does not get broken.

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Stuffed Gulab Jamuns frying

6. They should be fried well and reach a dark brown color. Transfer them to the slightly simmering sugar syrup. Fry the next batch as the earlier batch soaks in the syrup. The jamuns increase quite a bit in size as they soak. Remove them on a different plate if there is crowding in the vessel with syrup and transfer them all back to the vessel once all the gulab jamuns have soaked. Put the heat off under the sugar syrup when all the jamuns have finished soaking. Some syrup should remain in  the end and it should not be very thick.

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Stuffed Gulab Jamuns

Posted in -Almonds, -Butternut Squash, -Canola Oil, -Cardamom, -Cinnamon, -Evaporated Milk, -Nutmeg, -Raisins, Sugar, Sweets | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

Daanedaar Besan Ke Laddoo ( Sweet Gram Flour Balls)

Posted by vivnidhi on November 22, 2008

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Celebrating with Daanedaar Besan Ke Laddoo

It has been 1 year since I published my first post. Yes, Charche Chauke Ke turned one!! Even though it has been difficult at times to find time to blog, it has been a lot of fun.

Ch Ch Ke………what………is a regular question ?? “Yeah, that’s a blog I write, it is about my discussions of the urban Indian kitchen ” I almost always reply with a cheeky smile. It is about my experiments in the kitchen and some random thoughts. Sneaky tidbits as I watch my kids grow. The smile is cheeky cause I know there are far better cooks and writers than me almost everywhere. But here is my journey as I learn to cook better, healthier and more wholesome everyday.  My attempt here is to chronicle what is important and interesting to me. I write about what I know, have seen my seniors do and learn more as I go about. It is very satisfying to know what you think cause it is a very important part of Charche Chauke Ke.

A big thank you to all who have visited this blog in the year past. Finally the resolution: That I will continue blogging as much as I can into the coming year as well. One step at a time:) . So, please pick a laddoo up virtually and join me in marking the first year of this blog.  Pick that glass of water up and clank it with mine….”Cheers” :))

Besan Ke Laddoo can be made in several ways. Here’s my Nani’s (maternal grandmother’s) recipe, only it is using a little lesser amount of ghee (clarified butter).  I like my laddoos simple, no nuts etc. though they can be added if you desire.

The Recipe: (Approximately  40 small laddoos)

  • Gram flour (Besan) 3 cups
  • Ghee (Clarified butter) 3/4 cup
  • Castor Sugar (Bhoora)  1 cup
  • Milk 1/4 cup (Can be whole milk or even skim milk if you want)
  • Cardamom powder (Elaichi) 2 tsp.

Take besan and ghee in a wok and keep the heat to medium high. Keep stirring till the besan starts to brown a little . Next take a Tbsp. of milk in your palm and sprinkle all over the besan which is frying. Keep stirring till the milk is absorbed well by the gram flour. Repeat till all milk is absorbed by the gram flour. This is an important step. Not only does this make small grain like texture in the gram flour but it also makes the laddoo less dry. Besan Ka Laddoo made in less ghee would otherwise taste quite dry.

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Gram Flour

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Gram Flour after addition of milk

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The ghee separates……indication that the besan has fried enough

Keep stirring till the ghee separates as in the photograph above. Turn the heat off and let the besan cool a little. When the besan mixture is warmer and can be handled by bare hands, add sugar to the mixture. Grainy castor sugar is a good alternative to the traditional boora. ‘Boora’ was prepared by heating sugar with water and drying it completely till the normal white sugar would reconstitute itself into grains. Its quite a tardy process and I am glad I had some store bought boora from India;) to add to the laddoo.

Mix the cardamom powder to the mix. Pick out fistfuls of besan mixture and compress it till it feels like one mass. Then compress it further to make  a perfect round. Lastly a technique is used to get a smooth, shiny round which is quite easy to adopt if seen. Unfortunately I do not have any pictures so I will try my best to explain in words. The fist is opened with the compressed besan in the center of the palm. The hand is then shaken continuously and the besan round is allowed to move in the hand. Slowly, the entire round becomes smooth and shiny. Laddoos are ready!

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Please try one!!

Aparna (another Daring Baker…….and Daring Bakers also turned two years old on 19th November!!) of My Diverse Kitchen is also celebrating her first blog anniversary with Sweet Celebrations image . Here Aparna……pick a laddoo up……..to us…………:)) .

These laddoos are also on their way to Joelen of Joelen’s Culinary Adventures who is hosting Devon Ave. Indian-Jewish Adventure this month.

Cheers!!

Posted in -Cardamom, -Ghee, -Gram Flour, Milk, Sugar | Tagged: , , | 13 Comments »

 
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