Archive for March 2008

Stuffed Pastry II (Gujiya)

March 20, 2008

I’d imagine that most holidays around the world incorporate different types of foods and Holi is no exception. In my nani’s family, no Holi celebration is complete without bright colors and gujiya (or assortments of sweets), which is used primarily as a festive sweet for special occasions such as Holi. I like to make these for Holi every year as it continues my family tradition and I wanted to share this recipe with readers. There are a variety of sweet or savory choices for the filling but a popular choice is a khoya-nut mixture from my nani’s kitchen. Like any traditional food, there are probably as many gujiya recipes as there are cooks. They are versatile and can be served deep-fried or baked. The previously posted recipe for gujiya is one of the sweets commonly associated with the traditional Holi celebration in my nani’s kitchen with or without dipping in sugar-honey syrup.

1 1/2 cups, grated carrot
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground green cardamom seeds
1/2 cup milk powder
1/4 cup desiccated coconut (texture somewhat like corn meal)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts or unsalted cashews
1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup water or as needed
Sugar-honey syrup (optional)
Ghee or vegetable oil for deep-frying

1) To make the filling: Place grated carrots into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Stir and microwave for another 2 to 3 minutes to ensure even cooking. At this stage the carrots will become quite soft. Set aside.
2) Or omit the step #1 and melt butter in a heavy-bottomed pan and add grated carrots. Cook on low heat, stirring frequently, until softened or all the liquid has evaporated.
3) In a heavy-bottomed saucepan melt butter over the medium heat and cook softened carrots with sugar, stirring constantly, 5 to 6 minutes, or until the carrot mixture is quite thick like soft cookie dough.
4) Remove from the heat and add the cardamom, milk powder, lightly toasted coconut and walnuts. At this point I like to add a generous pinch of cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg. Stir to mix thoroughly. Let it cool completely before stuffing the gujiyas.
5) For making the dough and finishing the gujiyas follow the step #3 to step # 8 of the previous version of Stuffed Pastry (Gujiya) recipe posted on March 2, 2008 of Nani’s Indian Cooking blog.

Note: After deep-frying, these were dipped in the sugar-honey syrup that gave the finished product quite a sheen (almost resembling the sugar glaze on doughnuts). I personally omit this step.

Yield: 10-12 Stuffed Pastries.

Stuffed Pastry (Gujiya)

March 2, 2008

Gujiya is a deep-fried crescent-shaped pastry stuffed with khoya and a nut mixture filling. The ingredients used in the filling vary by region, which can result in a variety of interesting combinations. My nani’s gujiya, for example, had a rich filling that consisted of khoya, sugar, nuts of choice, and cardamom.

The dough for gujiya is made of three basic ingredients – flour, fat, and choice of liquid. Stiff dough is the key for making the tastiest crusts or covering for gujiya. I wanted to share my version of gujiya (made in my western kitchen) to celebrate Holi, one of the Hindu festivals of colors, which mostly falls during the end of February or March. I remember the great tasting gujiyas my sister-in-law (bhabhiji, elder brother’s wife) made for my last visit that coincided with the Holi celebration that year.

1 cup drained ricotta cheese or khoya
3/4 cup granulated sugar or to taste
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground green cardamom seeds
1/4 cup desiccated coconut
1/8 cup chopped almonds
1 cup flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon plain yogurt – optional
1/3 cup water or as needed
Ghee or vegetable oil for deep-frying

1) To make the filling: Combine ricotta and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pan. Cook on low heat, stirring frequently, until all the liquid has evaporated.
2) Remove from heat and add cardamom, coconut and almonds. Stir to mix thoroughly. Let it cool completely before stuffing the pastries. The filling may be prepared with any combination of finely chopped cashews, walnuts, desiccated coconut, raisins, and my favorite chironji and finely grated cooked carrots along with the roasted sooji (cream of wheat).
3) To make the dough: Put the sifted unbleached all-purpose flour, butter and yogurt (or milk) in a medium bowl and stir with a fork to blend. Add the water a little at a time and stir vigorously until stiff dough is formed.
4) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 1 to 2 minutes until smooth and pliable.
5) Divide the dough into 10 to 12 pieces and roll each piece into a 3-inch circle or simply roll out the dough into a rectangle. Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter cut as many circles as you can from the rolled out rectangle. Gather the scraps and reroll the dough and cut out more circles.
6) Take one circle and put a heaping tablespoonful of the filling onto one half of the circle, leaving a little space along the edges (or simply use a mould if you have on hand). Dip a finger in water or milk and run it along one half of the edge of the circle (since the dough is quite pliable I personally omit this step).
7) Fold the dough over so that it forms a half moon or crescent shape. Press the edges to seal securely and pinch the edges of the pastry as if you are preparing a delicate pie shell or carefully seal each pastry with tines of a fork.
8)Heat ghee in a wok and fry the pastries or gujiyas until lightly golden on both sides. When cool they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature.

Note: Khoya is mostly available in Indian store but could easily be substituted with either milk powder or strained ricotta cheese.

Yield: 10-12 Stuffed Pastries.