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Monday, October 25, 2010

Ghugra



Diwali is around the corner, so I decided to post this recipe. The one thing I miss about India is ..... Diwali.... the festival of lights… just like Christmas here, there is a feel of joy, happiness, customs, ceremonies, traditions, fun, shopping and festivities with lot of cheer in the atmosphere.

Diwali (based on lunar calendar) falls around the beautiful season of autumn when in India everyone is getting relief from the scorching heat of summer. Various flavors of good food and good spirit in in the air….everything and everyone feels so festive and joyful that it is contagious. This year it falls on Nov 5th.

The name Diwali is itself a contraction of the word Deepavali (Sanskrit: दीपावली Dīpāvali), which translates into row of lamps (in Sanskrit). Diwali involves the lighting of small clay lamps (diyas) (or Deep in Sanskrit: दीप) filled with oil to signify the triumph of good over evil. During Diwali celebrants wear new clothes and share sweets and snacks with family members and friends. Indian business communities begin the financial year on the first day of Diwali, hoping for prosperity the following year. If you like to read more about Diwali and its religious signficance, please refer to the source of the description at end of this recipe.

These sweet dumplings are made of wheat flour and stuffed with dry fruits, nuts and dry coconut delicacies. Generally, they are most popularly consumed around the time of Diwali in Western and Southern India. They are a very popular delicacy among Maharastrians and South Indians.

The presentation of a Gujhia or Ghugra is very much like that of a samosa, however the it has a very distinct shape. The gujhia is filled with a mixture of grated and roasted dry fruits, Khoya (the solid mass remaining after milk has been heated for a very long time and when all the water has evaporated from it, similar to milk powder), coconuts and to add a grainy texture, a little cream of wheat.

In Uttar Pradesh, Gujia are usually made on the occasion of Holi, the Hindu festival of colors. Here they dip the ghujia in sugar syrup, but I prefer the following recipe which is passed on to me by my mother in law.

Gujia is also popular as "Karanji" (Marathi) in Maharashtra or "Karachika" (Tamil), "Kajjikayi" (Kannada, Telugu) South India respectively.

The traditional recipe calls for deep frying these ghugra's in ghee (clarified butter). But you can bake them for a healthier version.


This recipe will make about 40-50 pieces.


Ingredients for the stuffing



• One 15-16 oz container of Traditional Ricotta cheese
• 1 stick of butter
• 1 cup of Almonds
• 1 cup of pistachios
• 1 cup of cashews
• ½ cup of figs chopped to fine pieces
• ½ cup of golden raisins
• ½ cup of dry coconut powder (optional)
• 1-2 teaspoons of freshly powdered cardamom
• 4 tables spoon of cream of wheat
• ½ lb of powdered sugar


Ingredients for crust


• 6 cups of AP flour
• 3/4 cup Crisco
• 3/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
• Little more than 3/4 cup of warm water
• Crisco or Ghee for frying

If you prefer to bake them instead then preheat the oven at 350 F.


Preparation:



For Dough:

Combine the flour, Crisco and salt, in a large bowl. Mix all of these ingredients well with your hands till everything is incorporated well. Add warm water little at time to this mixture and make the dough with your hands and kneading it into a firm manageable ball of dough.

Cover it with damp cloth and keep the dough aside.

For Filling:
• Grind all the nuts in a food processor to powder form.
• Roast the cream of wheat on medium low heat with constant stirring for about 5 min until light brown min in a nonstick pan, set aside to cool.
• Heat one stick of butter in a large pan, add Ricotta cheese and cook it on medium to low heat with constant stirring until most of the water from cheese is evaporated. Remove it from heat, let it cool.
• Add the nut mixture, sugar, cream of wheat, figs and raisin.
• Mix well until all the ingredients are incorporated well.
To make the Gujia/Googhra pastry:
• Divide the stuffing mixture into 40-50 equal portions.
• Divide the dough into 40-50 equal balls. Roll these balls on floured surface to small 3-4 inch circle.
• Place a teaspoon full of stuffing mixture on one half of circle.
• Gently fold the circle into a semi circle, forming a half moon shape. Seal the edges by pressing the filling in between and twisting the edges it as the picture shows.
• You can deep fry them in Crisco or Ghee until golden brown or if you like to bake them then place them on a baking sheet in preheated oven (350 F).
• Bake for 25-30 min until golden brown. May have to turn them in between to make sure both sides are evenly baked.
• Fried or baked, let them cool in open air and then store them in airtight container when completely cool.

Tips: if you want to keep the pastry for longer than a week, you may want to omit the ricotta cheese and add more nuts to the recipe. Milk based pastry may not stay good for more than a week. You can make there ahead of time and put them in the freezer.
You can always make variations in the filling ingredients based on your taste, likes and dislikes, as I feet the best recipe for good cooking is to have no recipe at all.

Enjoy and Happy Diwali and Happy New and Prosperous New Year.. to all...According to Hindu calendar it will be 2067 !!

Recipe source: My dearest mother in law Mrs. Hemlata.

Image and description of Gujia Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gujia
Description of Diwali source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diwali

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