Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Gujhiya- Taditional Holi Recipe

Wishing you all a bountiful spring- Happy Holi!!!

If Holi is here, can spring be far behind? 

Traditionally marking the beginning of Spring in India, Holi used to be quite an affair in Delhi. After hours of running around with water pistols, colors and water-balloons, we would return home exhausted and ready to curl into sleep. Except that our mom had a different idea... she, for the first time since winter set in, would make us take cold water baths. All my childhood years, I remember being bathed in ice-cold water with our teeth chattering while my mom scrubbed away the colors of Holi from inside our ears and hair. It seemed like hours before she considered us clean enough to step in anywhere inside the house. And all through the ordeal, she kept repeating that since it was spring time, we had to start bathing in cold water….

After a tiring day and her ruthless cold-water scrubbing, lunch this day was usually something good - hot and deep fried. Mostly pakoras, the sweet saffron rice called Zarda, and a cup of warm milk to beat the cold- followed by a short nap. Late in the afternoon, my dad's friends gathered in our house for a "mushaira". Not quite sure what went on there, but they laughed loud and made plenty of ruckus. All the "aunties" would pack their kids and their knitting, and meet up in the neighborhood park themselves for some "girl time". Before my mom left for the park, she and I would ply the uncles with goodies to sustain them for a few hours - pots of Kanji and Thandai, Mathi, Gujhiya and besan ladoo - all from my mom's kitchen. By the time we came home, the uncles usually had eaten them all!!

For the longest time ever, I didn't have the courage to try making Gujhiya by myself. But now, I have been making them for a few years. Always make a small amount, just enough to give me and a few friends a taste of Holi as it used to be.


(Sweet nuts and khoya filled empanada)

For the filling:
Khoya 200g
Coconut dry ¼ cup
Sooji/Semolina ¼ cup
Mixed nuts ¼ cup ( I had cashews and almonds)
Raisins 2-3Tbsp
Chironji 1 Tbsp
Ghee ½ tsp
Cardamom powder ½ tsp
Sugar ¾ cup (or adjust to taste)

For the dough:
Maida/All purpose flour 2 cups
Oil 1/2cup
Luke warm Water a little less than ½ cup.

Oil for deep frying.

Good to have: Gujhiya making mould.

Make the filling:
1.       Put a heavy bottomed saucepan on low flame. All ingredients will be roasted separately- below is how I did this, but you can follow any order of ingredients you like.
2.       Crumble/grate the khoya into the pan. Stir and roast till slightly brown and leaves some butter on the side. Remove into a plate.
3.       In the same pan, dry roast the nuts. Remove, cool and coarsely crush (I used my coffee grinder for this). Mix into the khoya.
4.       Grate the dry coconut (Khopra) and dry roast for 1-2 min. Remove.
5.       Dry roast the semolina till slightly browned.
6.       Add ½ tsp ghee in the pan and roast the Chironji seed in it.
7.       Now transfer all the roasted ingredients into the same saucepan.
8.       Mx in the raisins, cardamom powder and sugar. Keep aside to cool completely.

Make the dough:
1.       I used a food processor for this.
2.       In 2 cups of dough, add ½ cup oil. Mix in till you get a coarse bread-crumb like mixture.
3.       Slowly, start adding the lukewarm water till you get a pliable, non-sticky dough.
4.       Cover with a moist paper towel and keep aside for 20-30 min.

 Assemble the Gujhiya:
1.       Divide the dough into tennis ball sized lumps.
2.       Using a board and a rolling pin, roll one lump into a thin circle, about 4 inches in diameter.
3.       Grease the gujhiya mould slightly (only for the first time), and gently place the circle on it. **
4.       Spoon 1 to 1 ½ Tbsp of filling in the center.
5.       Apply a little water along the outside edges of the dough circle, and then close the mould and press tightly to seal.
6.       Make all the Gujhiyas in a similar manner.
7.       Heat oil in a deep fryer/Kadai. Fry gujhiyas till golden brown on both sides.
** If you don’t have a mould, you could make these by hand. Just press a fork along the edges to seal completely. Alternatively, I found this very reasonably priced dumpling maker here in USA. I have been using it for years now. The actual gujhiya mould trims off the edges, so you have less crust. With this dumpling press, I have a bigger crust, which the kids like- so I let it be.

My two cents: Gujhiya with all the ingredients roasted up can be stored for 7-10 days in an air-tight container, at room temperature. Because of the khoya, it is advisable not to keep them for too much longer.  In my opinion, Holi isn’t quite the same without Gujhiya, Thandai and Kanji: a perfect way to greet all those friends and neighbors who show up unrecognizable and shmeared with colors. So don’t be intimidated if you don’t have the tools. Just gather the ingredients and make it work!

My gujhiyas tend to be slightly bordering on the less-sweet. Adjust the sweetness as per taste. Remember the filling should taste very sweet, but that gets balanced out as the dough is not seasoned at all.

With this measure, I got 25-27 gujhiyas (keep collecting the scraps of dough and making more till you run out). The filling was enough for 2 batches of 25 pastries.