Today is Holi, the Indian Festival of Colors. It is also heralds the beginning of Spring and hence is an auspicious day in the Hindu Calendar. I love Holi because I think it is the most fun of all the Hindu festivals.
What other festival gives you the excuse to drench complete strangers in colored water and get away with it scot-free? Of course this gets one into sticky situations, but all is forgiven in the name of Holi 😉
For days after Holi, throughout India you can easily make out who had a good time and who stayed home. The ones who really enjoyed themselves would have multi-colored skin (yep, multi-colored), that would take days to get back to normal.
Of course, Holi is also an excuse to enjoy some delicacies that are usually prepared specifically for this festival. One such specialty is Gujiya. It is the Indian version of empanadas or turnovers, with a sweet filling.
The filling depends on the region. In North India, the filling is made from milk solids (khoya or mawa) flavored with spices and nuts. In West and South India, where they are known as Karanji, grated coconut replaces the milk solids and thereby the taste is quite different. Karanji are also quite popular during Diwali.
I love Gujiyas in all forms, but what puts me off making them is the deep-frying involved. Then, I came across this recipe from Saffron Streaks and I knew I had to try it out. I left out the chocolate chips, as I wanted the traditional Gujiya flavor, but followed the rest of the recipe.
I made the stuffing with grated coconut, toasted with nuts, raisins and spices.
The filling was then heaped onto circles cut out of short crust pastry.
As for turnovers, the circle of pastry is folded over and sealed.
These are placed on a lined cookie sheet and baked.
The result: light, flaky Gujiyas that taste just as good as the fried ones, but are much healthier.
Here’s the recipe:
Baked Gujiyas (Adapted from Saffron Streaks)
Prep time: 1 hour
Cooking time: 20 minutes
For the Dough
- All purpose flour : 2 cups
- Ghee / butter : 3 tbsp
- Salt to taste
For the Filling
- Coconut shredded : 2 cups
- Sugar as per taste
- Cardamom powder : 1/2 tsp
- Nutmeg powder : 1/4 tsp
- Cinnamon powder : 1/4 tsp
- Mix nut : 1/8 cup each of raisin, cashew nut, walnut, almonds and pistachios
- Milk : 3-4 tbsp
- Sift the flour with salt and add the butter or ghee in it. Using fingers, mix them well so that it resemble bread crumbs.
- Add enough cold water to knead them softly and tightly.
- The dough should be soft and tight.
- Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap and keep it in a refrigerator for 30 minutes.
To prepare the filling :
- Add the shredded coconut in a clean pan and let it roast for few minutes,
- Watch it closely, do not brown the coconuts.
- Add the sugar and mix well on a slow heat.
- Add the spices and the nut mixture and mix them really well.
- Fry for few more minutes until the mixture becomes relatively dry and fluffy and slightly moist.
Assembling and Cooking the Gujiyas:
- Knead the dough once again for few minutes and divide it into small balls.
- Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface and stamp out some 20 small discs out of it with the help of 3 inch round cookie cutter.
- Put 1 tsp of the coconut filling in the centre and brush the edges of the circle with milk, fold them and sealed the edges and crimped the edges with the help of a fork. Or else you can twist the edges inwards and take care that the mixture does not oozes out.
- Prepare the remaining gujiyas like this, once finished brush the top of the gujiyas with milk, to get a light brown sheen on them.
- Arrange the gujiyas on a cookie sheet lined with a parchment paper.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 190°C for 20 minutes or till evenly browned.
- Cool on a wire rack before serving them.
A very Happy Holi to all of you!
May you be gently showered with all the beautiful colors of life!