Happy Diwali, everybody! This post comes to you late in the day but where festival food is concerned, it’s better late than never. It doesn’t really start to feel like Diwali till you’ve got your fingers gleaming with ghee and experience the aching limbs that come from standing straight for over an hour slowly moulding each one of these karanjis. The rewards are sweet 🙂
These karanjis have been at the back of my mind for weeks now, and I finally got the time to make them this morning. If you hurry, you can have them ready for the family dinner tonight 😀
A Karanji, or ghujiya in the North, is a deep-fried puff pastry like thing filled with sweet fillings ranging from coconut to khoya. The Maharashtrian version of these begin with coconut and can be sweetened with sugar or jaggery, similar to the filling in these modaks. The plural form of a karanji is of course just something I use for convenience 🙂
To make these less of a stressful event in your life, I suggest using pre-shredded, frozen coconut for the filling and a food processor to make the outer ‘pastry’, though it does lead to some stretchiness since a machine will always work dough more than your hands will.
They’re not hard to make, they just take time to assemble. One of those handy little karanji moulders available at roadside stalls really saves your time and your nerves. The traditional moulding by hand and then trimming using a little circular cutter just turned out to be a lot of trouble and I think you’ll be happy there’s a way to avoid it! Both are pictured below.
If you follow me on Instagram, you would have seen my excited second by second updates 😀
While there are many different recipes and versions of these karanjis, this is a tried and tested one from the very enthusiastic cook who works at our house and she was kind enough to help me write down exact proportions and measurements so I could write about it here 🙂
The edges are crispy, the centers are soft and the filling is moist. I’m still trying to figure out the mystery behind the stretchy dough and if not the food processor, it was the humidity. The dough seemed to be magically expanding the more I looked at it. But in the end, if it tastes good, I’m not complaining.
This recipe makes about 30 karanjis with just a bit of filling over that I plan to attack with a spoon. If you’d like to fry them as you mould them, get another pair of hands into the game. My better half jumped in and in about an hour, we had a giant pile of these all ready to be devoured.
Don’t be scared (if you are) because I discovered that these are actually the sweetest things to make 🙂
Have a great festive season!
What you’ll need:
6 tbsps ghee
150 gms semolina or rawa
200 gms fresh shredded coconut (fresh coconut that’s frozen is also fine)
1 and 1/2 tbsps khus khus or white poppy seeds
2 and 1/2 cups flour (maida)
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup milk and 1/2 cup water combined
3/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup raisins
1 tsp cardamom powder
Oil, for frying
What to do
1. In a sturdy aluminium wok or deep pan, dry-roast the semolina for a couple of minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of ghee and roast for about 10 minutes until it begins to brown. Transfer to a bowl and set aside to cool.
2. In the same wok, roast the coconut with 1 tablespoon of ghee till it begins to brown. Transfer to a plate and roast the poppy seeds for a couple of minutes. Add to the coconut, mix and set aside to cool.
3. To make the dough, ideally use your hands. In a race against time, use the food processor but be prepared for the dough and final product to be stretchy. Combine the flour, salt, 6 tablespoons ghee and milk-water mixture in a large bowl and mix well till the dough starts to come together. Knead for a few seconds till you have a smooth, firm dough. It should not be sticky at this point. Cover with a damp towel and allow to rest for 1 hour. After this, you will encounter some stickiness especially if working in a hot kitchen, but nothing unmanageable.
4. Combine the cooled semolina and coconut mixtures in a bowl, add the sugar, raisins and powdered cardamom. Mix well and the filling is ready.
5. Heat the wok and pour in enough oil for deep-frying, the exact amount will depend on the size of your wok.
6. Roll about 2 tablespoons of the dough in your hands, sprinkle a clean surface with a bit of flour and roll out the dough as thin as possible, sprinkling flour as needed.
7. Transfer the rolled dough to your moulder and fill with one tablespoon of filling. Shut it tightly, trim the edges, unmould and drop into the hot oil. Fry on both sides till golden-brown. We let the karanjis get darker than usual because we like it that way, but it’s up to you as long as they’re cooked!
8. Remove from the wok, drain and rest on a paper towel. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.
Eat warm and congratulate yourself 🙂
P.S. My mom’s hunch is the dough needed more ghee and it should not be stretchy and elastic, it should be firm. The recipe is updated accordingly but let me know if you have another version or idea 🙂