Happy Diwali, dear readers!

This year we have been blessed with a long weekend for Diwali preparations, the 1st and 2nd November being public holidays. While I had to work on Friday night, I was still lucky to enjoy my Saturday and Sunday at home, involved in what remains my favorite aspect of the festivities: preparing Indian sweets/mithais. Once again we went for the classics: Besan/Boondi Laddoo, Gulab Jamun, Barfi, Nankhatai, Gato Coco, Gato Patate, Napolitaine and Khaja.

diwali

The family recipe for khaja has been handed down by my chachi who has taught generations the art of making light and flaky khajas. This Indian sweet has a Mille-Feuille-like structure and is typically dipped in sugar syrup but I prefer dusting with icing sugar which prolongs the shelf life by few more days. It does require some practice and is best to avoid experimenting on the day of Diwali unless you are confident and have enough helping hands to go through all that shaping-rolling-frying business, not to mention the cleaning up process that follows.

KHAJA

Ingredients:

4 cups all purpose flour

3 tablespoons ghee, melted

1 1/8 cups cold water

2 tablespoons flour

1 tablespoon oil

1 1/2 cups icing sugar

2-3 cups oil, for frying

Method:

  • In a large mixing bowl, sift flour and drizzle 2/3 of the melted ghee over. Cut fat into flour until it is well distributed.
  • Add water a little bit at a time until a stiff but pliable dough forms, it should be slightly more stiff than farata dough.

  • Divide it into small portions, about the size of tennis balls, and cover with a cloth to prevent them from drying out.
  • To the remaining ghee, add 2 tablespoons flour and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil and mix well to form a thin paste.

  • Roll out a portion of dough on a lightly floured flat surface as thinly as possible, repeat the same with another piece.
  • Smear the flour-ghee-oil paste over one layer of dough and cover with the other so that both pieces are well aligned.

  • Trim off any excess. Smear the paste on top of the 2nd layer and roll them together tightly like a swiss-roll sandwich.
  • With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 2 cm pieces and press down each piece lightly with a finger to flatten them slightly.

  • Roll out each piece to about 5 cm long. Do not to apply to much pressure with the rolling pin else they will not puff up.
  • Heat oil in a large frying pan over moderate heat and carefully drop the rolled out pieces, 2-3 at a time, in the hot oil.

  • Press lightly with a slotted spoon and flip them regularly, every 30 seconds or so, to ensure even cooking on both sides.
  • They are done when they turn golden in colour. Remove from oil with the slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper.

  • Dust the hot khajas generously with icing sugar, the heat from deep frying will cause the icing sugar to melt very quickly.
  • Alternatively you can dip them in simple sugar syrup. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Serves 30.

Wishing you a very Happy Diwali 2013!

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