Saturday, October 17, 2009
Wishing you all a very happy and prosperous Diwali. May this year brings you lots and lots of happiness in life and fulfill all your dreams.
Indians everywhere are celebrating Diwali today. Festivals in India, like everywhere else, mean a lot of food especially sweets. For Diwali, however, the variety of sweets whether made at home or sold in the shops, takes on a new high. The concept of sweets for Diwali has evolved so much so that chocolates are now considered acceptable.
Diwali is celebrated in different ways across India. Here in Goa, it is the just after the rains and delightfully cool and misty mornings prevail. With Diwali here, it is beautiful to see houses decorated with paper lanterns and twinkling lights. We went to sleep last night with the sounds of firecrackers in our ears. Early this morning hundreds of effigies of Narakasura would have been burnt signifying the triumph of good over evil.
For us, Diwali means a traditional cleansing bath, wearing new clothes and a leisurely and some what heavy breakfast. We distribute sweets and savouries to neighbours and friends and end up eating a lot of that ourselves!
Traditionally, we don't light lamps for Diwali but for Karthigai. But we have lit oil lamps for Diwali, as well, ever since Akshaya was little and demanded our home also be lit up like all the others in the neighbourhood.
I have always made sweets at home for Diwali and I am a bit obsessive about this. This year I thought I'd make something different. Popular demand at home meant rava ladoos this time. I also made muthusaram ( traditional savoury munchies), some sandesh truffles ( modern take on a traditional Bengali sweet) and kaju katli (Indian cashewnut fudge).
I shall post those recipes eventually.
This is the first time I've made kaju katli. When one considers how easy it is to make this, I'm surprised that I never thought of making this before! One reason why I haven't maybe because we get very good kaju katli in the sweet shops here. We also get excellent cashewnuts here so I made these diamond shaped katlis at home.
They came out well and Akshaya is especially happy that one of her favourite sweets now doesn't require a trip to the sweet shop anymore!
If you are not familiar with this Indian sweet/ fudge, kaju katlis (kaju means cashewnut) are diamond shaped soft fudge/ marzipan-like confectionery usually decorated with "varak" (very finely beaten silver foil).
1 cup broken cashewnuts
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 tbsp water
3/4 tsp powdered cardamom
Grind the cashewnuts into a fine powder in your food processor. Make sure you don't process them too much, or the cashewnuts will become a paste. Keep aside.
Put the sugar and water in a pan. Place on the stove, and over medium heat, keep stirring frequently, till the sugar dissolves and almost reaches a one-string syrup. Getting this stage f sugar syrup correct is what is critical in this recipe.
Turn the heat down and add the cashewnut powder and the cardamom. Mix well and use your spoon/ ladle to break up any lumps which might form.
Keep stirring the cashewnut-sugar mixture as it thickens. Soon you will notice a few bubbles slowly coming up, breaking and falling in on themselves, somewhat like hot bubbling mud!
At this point, take the pan off the heat and allow the mixture to cool to a temperature where you can comfortably handle the "marzipan", which will be of "Play-Doh" consistency.
If, by some chance, your mixture looks dry and crumbly just add a tsp or two of milk and stir well. It will attain the required consistency.
Take the "marzipan" and knead it well for a couple of minutes, by hand, so that it is smooth and there are no cracks. Lightly grease your work surface (I used ghee/ browned butter) and your rolling pin. You can also do this on a sheet of aluminium foil.
Roll the "marzipan" evenly till 1/4" thick. Using a sharp knife (or pizza cutter) cut into small diamond shaped pieces. Transfer the cashewnut diamonds to a cookie sheet and allow to dry out for about half an hour.
Knead the scraps, roll out again and cut till all the "marzipan" is used up.
This recipe makes about 20 pieces depending on the size of your diamonds.
Since Mansi is celebrating sweets this month, I'm sending these to her.
I would also like to thank all of you who joined Meeta and me at the Monthly Mingle-High Tea and made it a grand party. There will be a slight delay in the round-up.
I have been a bit busy with Diwali and other things and will be away from tomorrow on a short break for 2 weeks.
I will be back in the first week of November and promise to post the round-up soon after. Please bear with me till then.
I have also been a bit behind in reaching my favourite blogs, as many of you would have noticed. Hopefully, I shall be able to remedy that too without too much delay.
In the meanwhile, some posts should appear here at intervals if Blogger's autopublish mode continues to function. Happy browsing!