Friday, March 2, 2018

Mawa gujiya

खिल उठे कचनार टेसू
फाग का हो राग घर -घर
हवा में हो रंग उड़ते
क्षितिज भीगे; हंसे अम्बर
रंग में त्यौहार भीगे
और मन भीगे सभी का प्रेम से;
सदभावना से-दूरियाँ मन की मिटाए
होली के पर्व की अनगिनत शुभकामनाये

A happy Holi to everyone celebrating the festival of colors. Holi is celebrated all across India in the month of March to bid winter adieu and to welcome spring with its vast array of colors. Fresh leaves and buds bloom, animals awaken and the earth seems to come to life again. Just like Spring, Holi signifies new beginnings. 

Mawa gujiya is a must make recipe for Holi. These are traditional Indian fried crisp pastry filled with sweet coconut and khoya (milk solids) filling. I have fond memories of my mom making gujiyas, samosas and crisp Sev for Holi. 

Gujiyas are made all over India with a variety of fillings. In UP, Bihar, Rajasthan (the northern states) we call it gujiya and filling is almost always khoya and coconut. Sometimes khoya is substituted by roasted semolina. Semolina filling makes for a lighter less calorie dense gujiya, more economical gujiya, and a vegan version of gujiya. In Maharashtra (to the south) we call it karanji and the filling is freshly grated coconut infused with cardamom, jaggery, and raisins (no khoya). In Bengal (to the east) they make lavang latika. Dough and filling are the same as gujiya, but these are folded like a parcel and secured by a clove (lavang) on top. After frying these dumplings are coated in sugar syrup to get a crusty crisp exterior.

If you are a novice to this dish then you will need a mould to shape the gujiya. Using a mould makes it really easy. Hand folding the edges is an art and with practice comes quite easily. Another hack to shaping them is to seal the edges using a dab of water or milk and press lightly with your finger. Using a fork, press the edges to crimp and seal well.

Ingredients: (Makes 25)
For the filling
Khoya/mawa/milk solids, buy from the store or make your own (recipe below)
½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
10 green cardamoms, crushed fine
Powdered sugar to taste
Handful each almond and cashews, chopped fine
Palmful raisins
Mix everything in a bowl and keep aside, covered, ready for filling the gujiyas.

For homemade khoya/mawa
1½ cups of milk powder
 cup cream
  1. Mix the two ingredients together. Microwave for a minute. 
  2. Remove from heat and knead well with hand. 
  3. Microwave can vary, and you may need another 30 seconds. Do not overcook
  4. Knead again and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  5. Grate and it is ready to use.
For the pastry dough
2½ cups all-purpose flour
4 tbsp ghee (use oil for a vegan option)
Pinch salt
½ - ¾ cup of water
Oil for frying
  1. Sift the flour in a bowl. Add ghee and mix with your fingertips till fully incorporated. Mix in the water, a little at a time to form a soft dough.
  2. Adding ghee to the flour helps to get a crispy gujiya. Use oil instead, for a vegan option.
  3. Dust with little flour and knead for a minute. Cover and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. 
Prepare the gujiyas - traditional method
  1. Divide the dough into 25 equal portions. Keep them covered while you work on one.
  2. Flatten the dough ball and roll out on a lightly oiled surface to form a 4-inch circle. 
  3. Shape the gujiyas using a mould if using one. Otherwise, follow the steps below. 
  4. Place the circle on the pastry board, add a generous amount of the stuffing (about a tablespoonful) on one side. 
  5. Fold over to form a semi-circle, sealing the edges using a dab of water or milk. Press edges lightly with your finger. Using a fork, press the edges to crimp and seal well. Make sure the gujiyas are sealed well. If they open while frying, the sweet filling can leak out into the hot oil and spoil the entire batch. 
  6. Place the prepared gujiya on a plate and cover with a damp cloth while you make the rest of them.
  7. Heat oil in a deep pan to medium-low heat. Deep fry a few gujiyas at a time, turning a few times until they turn golden. Frying at medium-low ensures even cooking inside and out and also helps to get a crispy shell.  
  8. Fry in small batches to prevent overcrowding the pan. This is a slow process especially if you are making a large quantity, so be patient. 
  9. If the filling does leak out of one of the gujiyas, strain the oil to prevent it from sticking to other gujiyas. 
  10. As an alternative, you can also bake the gujiyas. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place all the prepared gujiyas over a lined baking tray. Brush with oil or ghee. Bake in the oven until crisp and lightly brown all over for around 15-20 minutes, turning it halfway. Let stand for 10 minutes before digging in.

Alternate - light shell baked gujiyas
To save time and make the Gujiyas a little less calorie dense here is an alternate light shell baked gujiyas. Use either phyllo pastry or spring roll wrappers for the crust and bake them instead of fry. Here is the light version of the recipe. The edges don't look as pretty but it tastes just as good.

Ingredients: (makes 8)
8 Spring roll wrappers
½ cup khoya (milk food) grated
¼ cup shredded coconut
1 tbsp each chopped almonds and cashew nuts
1 tbsp raisins
3-5 green cardamoms powdered
 - ½ cup powdered or fine sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. 
  2. In a bowl mix all the ingredients for filling. divide into 8 portions. 
  3. Take several wrappers and trim them at the corners using a large round cookie cutter. 
  4. Take the trimmed spring roll wrapper, place one portion of filling on one side of the wrapper, fold it in half to form a semi-circle, sealing the edges using a dab of water. Brush with butter or ghee.
  5. Place on a greased or lined baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, turning it halfway, till crisp and light brown. 
  6. Let stand for 10 minutes before digging in.

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