Holi Hai!! Holi festival of colors…one of the major Indian festivals of love, happiness and joy is celebrated all around the country. I have very fond memories of Holi, going to market with Papa and buying colors, water gun(pichkari), the Holi Pujan on Choti Holi(day before main Holi on the day when people play colors-Dulhandi), making of gujjiyas, Mathri and Sakkarpare and other Holi snacks with mom and other neighborhood aunties. On main Holi day,when it is celebrated with colors, neighborhood kids gathered together to play, throwing water balloons at each other and the adults and when nobody minded the kids’ naughtiness. Some things never change… Even my kids had the same fun on Holi in India, my daughter too looked forward to buying water gun, balloons, colors and of course the Holi Snacks.
Festivals in India are incomplete without the homemade sweets and snacks. Gujjiyas are the traditional sweets that are made for Holi in the northern part of India especially in Uttar Pradesh. In Maharastra Karanji similar to Gujjiya is popular. For those who are not familiar with Gujjiya, it is a kind of deep-fried pastry stuffed with nuts, mawa/khoya (evaporated milk solids) and grated coconut and semolina. Coconut and semolina are optional and people use it for filling as per their personal preferences. It is similar to Empanadas(made with different fillings both sweet and savory) that are popular all around the world with different fillings and flavors.
For me, my mom-made gujjiyas are still the best ones for me that I have had till date. She skipped coconut in the filling instead, lightly coated sugar syrup dipped gujjiyas with grated coconut. Not every year but few times I had made gujjiyas using her recipe only but then it can’t match what she made!! Gujjiyas can be shaped by hand or special molds are also available for the same.For making the outer covering dough is rolled, cut into small circles, stuffed with filling and folded into a half circle and edges sealed with water or slurry made with all-purpose flour and water.
Let’s get the ingredients and make these sweet dumplings filled with the rich mixture of nuts(mainly cashew nuts, raisins and chirongi– also known as melon seed, small lentil sized seed)and mawa and coated with sweet nutty coconut!!
For Outer covering/Pastry:
All-Purpose Flour– 200 gms
Ghee(Clarified Indian Butter)/Oil– 2 Tbsp
Mixed Nuts(Cashew nuts, Almonds, Pistachios)– 50-75 gms or as required
Raisins– 1-2 Tbsp
Powdered Sugar/ Boora– 25-50 gms / 1/4-1/2 cup or as required
Cardoman Powder–1/4 Tsp
For Sugar Syrup:
Please refer to the pics for the method. Move the cursor or click on the individual images for the caption.
Take a non-stick pan or thick bottomed pan and dry roast mawa, till it turns light brown. Roast nuts in a seperatly. If you are adding raisins, add it later. Once the mawa is warm or cools down, add nuts, cardamom powder, and powdered sugar or boora to it and mix well. Keep aside. I use less sugar for filling as I coat these in sugar syrup, you can adjust the amount of sugar as per your requirement.
Mawa for the filling can be store bought or homemade.Use unsweetened and granular mawa for making gujjiya. Click on the link for homemade mawa / khoya recipe.
If you are using coconut/semolina, take 1-2 tbsp of each as per your preference, roast for a few minutes and mix with mawa or nuts.
For the dough, mix flour and ghee lightly, rub the ghee into the flour until the flour resembles breadcrumbs. Adding ghee/fat to the flour is also known as ‘Mooyen’ in the local language, and it should be added just enough that the flour binds loosely with when taken in the fist.
Knead it with milk to a soft dough. Milk should be at the normal temperature. It adds richness to the dough. You can take water also for kneading instead of milk.
Keep aside the dough covered with a damp kitchen towel, for 10-15 minutes.
Make the slurry with 1 Tbsp of flour and 2 Tbsp of water, for sealing gujjiyas.
After the resting period of the dough, divide dough it into small tennis ball sized portions.
Roll with rolling pin into a circular thin disc.
Place a spoonful of filling on it, apply the slurry on the edges, fold into half circle, press the edges with a fork to seal.
Make rest of the gujjiyas with the same process.
Heat oil in a thick-bottomed pan.
When the oil is hot enough, fry gujjiyas in it, 3-4 at a time or depending on the size of the pan you are using. The oil for frying gujjiya should not be very hot, else the outer covering will have a lot of bubbles. To check that the oil is hot enough for frying gujjiyas, put one in a pan, it should first sink to the bottom then rise slowly to the surface. Then put rest of pieces, and fry first on low flame then on medium flame.This way the gujjiyas will be evenly cooked from outside as well as inside and there will be no bubbling on the outer surface.
Fry all the gujjiyas till these are golden brown in color.Let the gujjiyas cool down.
Soaking the gujjiyas in sugar syrup and coating in grated coconut/flakes is optional.
If you want to go ahead with this step, make sugar syrup. For that add water and sugar to a pan, and boil, till the solution is of one thread consistency.
Dip the gujjiyas in the syrup for a minute and take it out, roll in grated coconut. I have used store bought coconut flakes. You can grate coconut at home and use.
Once the gujjiyas cool down sugar will crystallize if you dipped it in sugar syrup. Keep in an airtight container. These stay good for 10-15 days.
For those who don’t want deep fried gujjiya, you can bake these in the oven at 400°F or 200°C, in the preheated oven, for around 30 mins. Brush the pieces with oil or melted ghee, and keep in the oven to bake.Turn the sides after 10-15 minutes of baking. Check the baking time, as it can differ due to different oven temperatures. Bake till light brown in color. Give little milk wash once out of the oven (for milk wash, dissolve 1 tsp of melted ghee or oil in 2-3 Tbsp of milk) and if you want, sprinkle some coconut when still warm.
Make and relish these gujjiyas with other Holi snacks and enjoy the Festival of Color with your loved ones!!
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