Karanji (Diwali Special Recipe)

Diwali, the festival of lights, is right around the corner and it is certainly incomplete without this sweet snack item called Karanji. Karanji, as known in Maharashtra, is made along with other Diwali snack items like chiwda, besan ladoo, rava ladoo and chakli all across India. But I personally feel that it is the star item amongst all. Karanji is a deep fried pastry which has a slightly crispy flaky outer covering and a sweet stuffing that is made with dry coconut, sugar and dry fruits. Its super delicious and totally addictive. Karanji is also known as Gujiya in North India, Kajjikayalu, Karchikai in South India and is made with different stuffings. Apart from Diwali this sweet snack is also made during the festival of Holi and Ganesh Chaturthi.
Oh how I miss celebrating this beautiful and colorful festival In India. You will see each house decorated with lights, flowers, lamps (kandils), the sweet smell of clarified butter/ghee emanating from every household, beautiful rangolis welcoming everyone at the doorstep and of course the constant noise of fire crackers in every neighborhood :P. As per tradition neighbors exchange sweets and snacks with each other in a beautifully decorated plate and that is how we always ended up with loads and loads of Diwali sweets including lots of Karanjis at our home :D. Don’t ask me how many I would gobble down at a given time…hahahaha….
The recipe I am sharing today is the Maharashtrian Karanji recipe. Traditionally in Maharashtrian Karnaji the outer pastry cover is made in layers which needs a little practice but I will be sharing the other method which is easier and most commonly used.

This recipe makes around 10 – 12 Karanjis
Recipe adapted from Ruchkar Mejwani and Madhuras Recipe.
Ingredients:
For the outer cover/pastry:
1 cup of all purpose flour
2 tbsp of semolina/rava
1 tbsp of clarified butter/ ghee
1/2 cup of warm milk (or as required)
Salt to taste
For the filling:
1 cup of grated and roasted dry coconut
1/2 cup of semolina/rava (fine quality)
1/2 cup of confectioners sugar/powdered sugar
1 tsp of poppy seeds/khus khus
Chopped dry fruits of your choice. I used almonds and pistachios
1 tsp of cardamom powder/ elaichi powder
A pinch of nutmeg powder/ jaifal powder
1 1/2 tbsp of ghee
Oil for deep frying
Method:
For the outer cover/pastry for karanji:
1) Start with making the dough for the outer cover or pastry. In a bowl add the all purpose flour, semolina and salt to taste. Mix nicely.
2) Heat up the clarified butter and add this to the batter. It should sizzle when added. Mix the ghee thoroughly with the rest of the ingredients.
3) Now start adding the milk in parts and begin to knead the dough. I ended up using a little less that half a cup of milk. Do not add a lot of milk at a time. The dough needs to be somewhat stiff and not too soft.
4) Knead the dough till it looks smooth. Cover it with a moist cloth and keep it aside for 15 – 20 mins.
For the filling:
1) Heat up ghee in a pan. Now add the semolina/rava and roast it on a low to medium flame till it turns light brown in color. This will take around 7 – 8mins.
2) Now add the poppy seeds and roast it for a minute followed by pre roasted grated dry coconut. Roast it for a few minutes. I didn’t pre roast the dry coconut so roasted it for a little longer than required.
3) Now add the chopped dry fruits, cardamom powder and nutmeg powder and saute for a minute. Switch off the gas and remove the mixture into a bowl. To this now add the powdered sugar and mix well. I found half a cup of sugar sufficient. Give it a taste test and add more as per your requirement.
Assembling and frying the karanjis:
1) Take the dough and knead it once again for a min. Now make a big log or 2 small logs of the dough and cut it in 10 – 12 equal portions. Make small balls of it and keep it covered with a moist cloth at all times.
2) Now take one ball and press it between your palm and flatten it and start to roll the ball in 5 – 6 inches in diameter. Dust the board with dry flour if required.
3) Now add around a tbsp of the stuffing only in the centre of the rolled dough. Do not add too much stuffing or else you will not be able to shape and close the karanji properly.
4) Apply water or milk on the entire edge of the circle and then carefully fold one side and bring it to meet the other side of the circle.
5) Now gently press the edges to seal it completely. Cut off any excess if needed with a pizza cutter. In India we get a specific cutter for karanjis. If you have that then cut the edges with it and you are done.
6) Otherwise you can also shape the edges with pinch and fold method or simply design it by pressing a fork on the edges. (As shown in the below pictures).  I am still learning the pinch and fold method so its not perfect. 😛

6) Repeat this procedure with rest of the dough. Meanwhile in a saucepan or kadai heat up enough oil to deep fry the karanjis. Many people also fry the karanjis in clarified butter. So if you want to then by all means go for it :D.
7) Fry the karanjis on low heat. The karanjis puff up while frying so avoid adding too many karanjis at a time. Add only 2 to 3 at a time. Also do not rush with the frying procedure. The slower the frying time the crispier the karanji. Make sure that the oil is not too hot else the karnajis will brown quickly and the outer cover will remain raw. Fry the karanjis till it is lightly golden brown.
8) Place the fried karanjis into a plate with a paper towel to drain off the excess oil.
9) Let the karanjis cool completely and then transfer them into an airtight container. They will stay good for a few weeks if stored properly.

 

I hope you liked this recipe.

Here’s wishing everyone a happy and safe Diwali. 🙂 

Rava Besan Ladoo

Rava besan ladoo is a yummy melt in your mouth ladoo/dessert that doesn’t need any special introduction. This ladoo is very simple yet super delicious and is equally liked by kids as well as adults. Rava besan ladoo is a popular item on the menu in almost all Indian households during festivals like Ganesh Chaturthi and Diwali. I am sure everybody has their own methods and techniques of making this dessert and so today I will be sharing with you all my version that is passed on to me by my mother in law. 

This is a very easy recipe that requires very basic ingredients that are readily available in our pantry. 

Makes around 20 medium sized ladoos
Recipe Courtesy: Mother in law 🙂

Ingredients:

2 cups of Semolina/Rava (fine quality)
3/4 cup of Gram Flour/Chickpea Flour/Besan
1 cup of ghee/clarified butter (1/2 cup of ghee for roasting the semolina  and 1/2 cup of ghee for roasting the gram flour)
1 – 1/2 cups of sugar (I used the regular cane sugar – adjust sugar as per your preference)
1/2 tsp of cardomom/elaichi powder
1/2 tsp of jaifal/nutmeg powder
1 cup of water (for making sugar syrup)

Few raisins and cashewnuts cut into small pieces

Method:

1) In a not stick skillet or tava add 1/2 cup of ghee and once the ghee is hot add the semolina and roast it on a low flame. Keep on stirring it frequently so that the semolina is roasted evenly and doesn’t burn from the bottom. Roast semolina till it becomes nice golden in color. This will take anywhere around 20 – 25mins. Transfer the roasted semolina into a plate and keep this aside.
Remember that the semolina will brown quickly when roasted on a medium flame but it will not be cooked thoroughly and will be raw . So be a little patient and cook it on a low flame until you see it change color. 
2) In the same pan add the remaining half cup of ghee and once the ghee is hot add the gram flour /besan. Stir it nicely and roast it on a low flame till gives out a nice aroma and changes color to light brown. This will take around 10-15mins. Switch of the flame and keep this aside.
3) Now in a sauce pan add 1 cup of water and 2 – 1/2 cups of sugar. Keep this on a medium flame. Stir the sugar nicely. Let the sugar dissolve completely in the water. Once the sugar is completely dissolved let the sugar syrup come to a boil. Once it starts boiling let it boil for 1 minute. And then immediately switch off the flame.
Such kind of ladoo recipes requires something called as a one string consistency sugar syrup. However some people find it rather difficult to get this correctly. The above mentioned method is what my MIL follows and this method has never failed. This ladoo was prepared the same way. 
4) Now add the roasted semolina, roasted gram flour/besan, cardomom powder and nutmeg powder to the sugar syrup. Mix everything thoroughly. Keep this mixture aside for half an hour.
5) After half an hour the mixture will harden a bit. Break the lumps with a spatula or with hands evenly. At this point the mixture will be warm to touch.
Make sure that that the mixture is a little warm to touch while shaping the ladoos. Else they wont bind tightly and will crumble.  
6) Start shaping the ladoo by taking a handful of the mixture. Add a small piece of cashew in between the mixture and then start pressing it tightly between your palms and fingers. Keep doing it till you get a nice round shape ladoo. Use both hands if you find it difficult to make them using one hand. Do not fret if they are not perfectly round. :P.
7) Finally place a raisin on top of the ladoo and press it lightly. This step is optional. You can also mix the cashews and raisins in to the mixture and make ladoos.
8) Keep making the ladoos until the entire mixture is used up. This recipe will yield around 20 medium sized ladoos.
9) Transfer the ladoos in an air tight container. The ladoos will stay good for 8 – 10 days. Keep them in the refrigerator to increase the shelf life.

Wishing all my dear friends and blog readers a very Happy Ganesh Chaturthi.

Stay blessed everyone. 🙂