December 25, 2011

A Week Of An Indian Christmas – Day #7 : Nevries/ Nevreos/ Neurios (Half Moon Shaped Sweet Puffs Filled With Coconut And Semolina)

I
t is perhaps fitting that the final post in this Indian Christmas series of mine is about the much loved festival sweet, the Nevri. Nevries (also called Nevreo/ Neurio) are perhaps the most important part of the Christmas platter of treats called Kuswar or Consoada in Goa. These half-moon/ crescent shaped sweet puffs are filled with a cardamom flavoured coconut and semolina filling and are very popular with adults and children alike. They are light and crisp on the outside, and soft and sweet on the inside. They are never too sweet and given their taste and texture, tend to disappear soon after they make an appearance on the table!
This is a sweet that no one religion can claim as its own as it is very much a part of both Hindu and Christian celebrations in Goa. Originally a Hindu preparation and prepared for Ganesh Chathurthi Goa, this sweet puff is made with a variety of fillings. It can be made with a sugary semolina and coconut filling or with a lentil and jaggery filling. The Nevri that is made for Christmas here is filled with coconut and semolina. One can use fresh coconut in the filling but it will not keep for more than a day or two whereas it will last much longer if dessicated coconut is used instead of fresh.




There are many versions of this sweet puff, some with different fillings and some shaped more decoratively depending on which part of the country they’re made in, but all half-moon shaped and delicious. It is invariably festive fare and made for a variety of festivals including Ganesh Chathurthi, Holi and Diwali. So you will find Nevries being also being referred to as Gujiyas, Karanji, Kajjikaya, Kadubu, etc. You will also find the occasional savoury version, sometimes called Ghugaras, too.
You will usually find the coconut filling in Nevries uses either fresh coconut or dessicated coconut. Those with fresh coconut have a shorter shelf-life than Nevries with dessicated coconut. I chose to use half of each as fresh coconut lends moistness to the filling that is really a nice contrast to the crunchy texture of outer skin of the Nevri.




Nevries aren’t very difficult to make but rolling the dough, filling and shaping them is what takes a lot of time. So if you can find family or friends who are willing to help out then you just need to assign tasks to people, set up an assembly line and you’re in business. If you have to do this on your own, then you need to plan to keep aside a couple of hours at least. I spent the larger part of the day making mine, as my effort was a one-man show. And wouldn’t you know, it was only when my hands were in the flour that my phone would ring, the courier deliveryman would decide to turn up and our puppy would decide to start some mischief?
There are moulds available for shaping Nevries, if you can find them though you don’t really need them. However shaping them without moulds isn’t difficult. I prefer to use a pastry cutter to cut out circles out of the dough and then fold them over the filling. This means I have to roll out the dough about 6 or times (for this recipe) instead of rolling out small individual circles (about 40 of them!). The cutter also ensures that my Nevries are all the same size.
Do check out this video which shows how to make Nevries/ Gujiya. The recipe and filling are different but the method is much the same.





Before the recipe, I would like to wish all those who celebrate a very Merry Christmas and say "Happy Holidays" to all my readers and friends.
Nevries/ Nevreo (Half Moon Shaped Sweet Puffs Filled With Coconut And Semolina)


Ingredients:

For the dough:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
About 3/4 to 1 cup (maybe a little more) water

For the filling:

1 1/2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup broken cashewnuts
1/4 cup white sesame seeds (til)
1 tbsp white poppy seeds (khus-khus)
1/2 cup dessicated coconut
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
3/4 cup semolina (rava)
1 cup sugar
4 to 5 pods cardamom, powdered


Method:

First prepare the dough. You may knead by hand or use the food processor like I did. Put the flour, salt and ghee in the processor and run it a couple of times to mix well. Then add about 1/2 cup of warm water and run the processor a couple of times. Now add as much water as is necessary, a bit at a time, to form a smooth and elastic dough.
Turn the dough out, cover it with a towel/ cling wrap and rest it for about 10 to 15 minutes.



Now prepare the filling.
Heat about half the ghee in a wok or pan and fry the cashewnuts till a light golden brown. Remove and keep aside. In the remaining ghee, fry the raisins till they puff up. Do not brown. Add to the cashewnuts.
Lightly toast each of these - sesame seeds, poppy seeds and the dessicated coconut - separately till they’re golden brown and give off an aroma. Add to the cashewnuts and raisins and keep aside.
In the remaining half of the ghee, roast the semolina over medium heat, until it turns pinkish and gives off an aroma. Add to the other fried/ toasted ingredients.
Now put all these together back into the wok/ pan and add the sugar to it. Over medium heat, mix everything together until the sugar starts to melt. Take it off the heat and add the grated coconut and cardamom powder and stir well. The filling is ready.



 To make the Nevries, pinch of walnut-sized bits of the dough. Shape them into smooth balls and roll out into small thin circles (about 1/16” thick and 4” diameter). The dough needs to be rolled out thin otherwise your Nevri will be chewy instead of crisp once it is deep-fried. Place a heaped tsp of filling in the centre and moisten the edges with water. Fold the circle over the filling into a half moon shape and seal the edges well.



 Use the tines of a fork to press the edges together decoratively. You can also use a fluted pie cutter to cut the edges into pattern.
Another alternative, one which I prefer, is to use a fluted pastry cutter (I use my 3 7/8” sized one). Divide the dough into four portions. Work with one and keep the others covered till needed, so the dough doesn’t dry out. Roll out the dough into a large circle (1/16” thick)). Using the pastry cut out circles, fill and seal as mentioned above.



 Keep on a plate/ tray. Repeat with the rest of the dough and filling.
Heat the oil for frying and when it is the right temperature (a bit of dough will bubble and rise up turning golden brown), carefully slide in about 4 to 6 Nevries into the oil. Let them rise up and turn whitish and the surface will start blistering. Slowly turn them and let the other side cook. Cook them, over medium heat, turning them often till they’re done and uniformly golden brown in colour.



 Remove them using a slotted spoon and let them drain on paper towels. When they are completely cool, store them in an airtight container. These Nevries will keep for about 3 days.
This recipe makes about 35 to 40 Nevries.
Other Posts In This Series:

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December 23, 2011

A Week Of An Indian Christmas – Day #6 : Goan Milk Cream (A Cashew And Milk Fudge)

M
ilk cream sounds like a funny name for a Christmas or any sweet – that’s what I thought when I came across this one. To me milk cream meant (and still means) cream from milk! Yet here in Goa, this is what they call the cashewnut and milk fudge made especially for Christmas.
I can understand perhaps why this name has come to be. The main ingredient of this fudge is milk and while cooking it up, the fudge becomes quite creamy in consistency once the powdered cashewnuts are added.
I have no idea about the origins of this fudge but it very much resembles another type of cashew fudge made in India called Kaju Katli, except that milk is not used to make that.
On the other hand, they are most probably a Goan version of “Brigadeiros”. Portuguese colonies have a lot in common when it comes to food naturally, with each of the colonies having its own variation of recipes by using locally available ingredients to give the new recipe a regional flavour. 




Brazilian Brigadeiros are named after Brigadeiro Eduardo Gomes who was a very famous Air Force commander from the forties (maybe he liked them a lot, or he was famous enough to have candy named after him, who knows?). They are milk fudge truffles made with sweetened condensed milk and cocoa powder and a very popular party treat, especially children’s parties.
From what I can see of the recipe, the cocoa powder has been replaced with powdered cashewnuts, Goa being cashew country, and the initial part of the recipe for Milk Cream is nothing but making sweetened condensed milk. Brigadeiros are rolled and covered with chocolate vermicelli or chopped nuts and sometimes left plain, in the manner of truffles. Milk Cream fudge/ candy on the other hand is usually moulded in different shapes.
Tis fudge looks the best when moulded into pretty little shapes. The small silicon/ rubber moulds are the best to shape the Milk Cream as it is easy to remove them from this kind of mould. I don’t have the soft moulds, and I found them difficult to unmould from my chocolate moulds, so I just rolled my Milk Cream into little balls like Brigadeiros.




Milk Cream is supposed to be white, the colour of condensed milk,and this comes from slow cooking. Mine are little golden from caramelisation while cooking my milk down. Whatever the colour of the Milk Cream, I can tell you it doesn’t make a difference to how delicious it is. Of course, it is tooth-tinglingly sweet but then it is meant to be that sweet and one needs that amount of sugar to cook the fudge to the right consistency.
This fudge is not at all difficult to make though it takes a bit of stirring, careful watching to make sure the fudge doesn’t stick to the pan and burn, and a bit of time to make it. Yu also need about 12 to 24 hours , at least overnight, for the Milk Cream to go from really fudgy and chewy to its characteristic somewhat drier consistency which is no more chewy. It’s definitely worth the effort though.
Goan Milk Cream (A Cashew And Milk Fudge)


Ingredients:

1 litre milk
1 3/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup broken cashewnuts, powdered
20 gm butter + extra for greasing moulds, if using


Method:

Run the broken cashewnuts (you can use whole ones too, but broken ones are cheaper and easier to powder) in a mixer/ blender/ processor to powder them as fine as possible. It is alright if they’re slightly coarse though you do not really want pieces. Over processing cashewnuts will make them release their oil and become a paste which is not desirable here.
Pour the milk into a largish thick-walled/ heavy bottomed or non-stick pan. Bring to a boil,  turn down the heat, and let the milk simmer until it is reduced to half the original quantity. Stir frequently to make sure the milk doesn’t stick to the pan.
Add the sugar and stir  till it dissolves. Bring the milk back to boiling again, turn down the heat and cook further, stirring frequently until it thickens quite a bit and resembles a somewhat dilute condensed milk.
Now add the powdered cashewnuts and keep stirring continuously so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. When the fudge begins to bubble along the edges it is alsmost ready.
When the mixture bubbles at the edges of the pan, it is almost ready. Add the butter and continue stirring until the mixture doesn’t stick to the sides of the pan but curls towards the centre. Test if the fudge is ready by dropping a small bit of it in a small plate of water. If it has reached soft ball stage, that is the mixture is soft and can be shaped into a ball with your fingers and holds it shape without dissolving in the water, it is ready.
Stir the fudge a couple of times more and take it off the heat. Turn it out onto a plate and allow it to cool completely.
If you don’t have moulds for your Milk Cream, just pinch off little bits and roll them with lightly greased palms into smooth balls the size of marbles. Otherwise grease your moulds well with butter and press bits of the Milk Cream into them. Cover the moulds and eave them at room temperature, overnight to dry out a bit and set. They need at least 12 hours for this. Unmould and store in an airtight container.
Store the Milk Cream in an air tight container. This recipe makes a small batch of Milk Cream. For a bigger batch, double the recipe.
Other Posts In This Series:

Day #1 : Nankhatai (Indian Cardamom Shortbread Biscuits)
Day #5 : Chakli (Savoury Rice And Lentil Spirals)





Do also join me at MonsoonSpice where Sia and I would love to share these Buttery Vanilla Spritz Cookies with you all this festive season.
 
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December 21, 2011

A Week Of An Indian Christmas – Day #5 : Chakli (Savoury Rice And Lentil Spirals)

W
hen it comes to food, celebrating invariably means something sweet. When I think back to all the Christmas goodies we have been fortunate to receive from our friends and neighbours in the past, it strikes me that the almost all the items were sweet. The only one food item that I remember being savoury is the “Chakli”. So since is only so much sweet one can take and after 4 “sweet” Christmas posts, I think it is about time we had something savoury and a bit spicy, like Chakli.
Chaklis are deep-fried rice and lentil munchies which are made by pressing out the dough through a press. Actually, you could think of them as pressed savoury spiral cookies! There are baked versions but the real Chakli is always a fried munchie. It is one of these perfect tea/ coffee time snacks when what you want is savoury and crunch, so long as you’re not counting calories. Chaklis are also prepared in many households as festive fare during Diwali and other celebrations.




Along the Western coast of India, especially in Maharashtra (Mumbai, Pune), Goa and Karnataka (Mangalore, Bangalore), it is also made in Christian homes for Christmas. In the South Indian states of Kerala and Tamilnadu, Chaklis are known as “Murukku”. And in my community, we call this Chakli “Mullu Murukku”, where “mullu” means thorns and refers to the slight projections on the Chakli that give it texture. We also make another version (different recipe with very little butter)of this called “Kai Murukku” where the “Kai” means hand and refers to the fact that it is moulded into rope-like spirals by hand.
There are literally thousands of different recipes for making Chaklis with minor variations in the ingredient list. This version is popular known as butter Chakli because, apart from being deep-fried, a large amount of butter goes into making the dough! Mine has less butter than many recipes but if you want the typically light, crisp and crunchy texture, then you need that butter. It’s not really surprising that traditionally, a lot of this sort of festive fare got made and distributed only during festivals perhaps once or twice in year, for this particular reason.




When we go back to memories of our childhood, my husband and I have the same memories of our aunts/ grandmothers telling our cousins and us that we could have these treats only after we had our lunch, or at least a small meal of “Thayir Chaadam/ Curd Rice” (a very South Indian meal of rice and yogurt).
There were two reasons for this. First, lunch in our homes is always finished with a bit of rice and yogurt, and yogurt has this unbelievable property of minimising the discomfort of bingeing on fried food which we kids had a tendency to do. The second reason was that after a meal of rice, we would be reasonably full and so wouldn’t overdo snacking.
But then, unlike these days, as young children we listened to our elders most of the time without arguing because that was how it was, and it worked well for us children and for the adults who were responsible for us.



There are Chakli recipes which use all-purpose flour, but this recipe uses rice flour and black gram lentil (urad dal) flour in the manner of savoury snacks from South India. This makes these Chaklis gluten-free. Since rice doesn’t have gluten, the lentil flour provides the binding as well as lending the Chaklis a nutty flavour and some crispness. The dough is usually formed by adding water to the flours, but I read somewhere that milk makes Chaklis crisper and tastier so I used milk to bind my dough, but you could stick to water if you prefer.
Chakli (Savoury Rice And Lentil Spirals)


Ingredients:

3 cups rice flour
1/3 cup powdered black gram lentils (urad dal)
1/2 cup butter, soft, at room temperature
2 tsp cumin seeds,
2 tsp white sesame seeds
3/4 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp asafoetida (optional)
Salt to taste
Milk (or water) for binding dough
Salt
Oil for deep frying


Method:

Sieve the rice flour, lentil flour, chilli powder, asafetida and salt together and add the butter. Using your fingers mix everything together until the mixture looks crumbly, somewhat like when you’re making pastry.
Lightly toast the cumin seeds and just crush/ pound them a couple of times to break them. Do not powder. Also lightly toast the sesame seeds. Add the crushed cumin and sesame seeds to the flour-butter mixture and mix. Add enough milk (or water) and knead to make a dough that is soft, smooth and pliable without being sticky.
If your dough is too dry, when you press it out it will not come out smooth but break into pieces so you will not be able to form the spirals. If your dough is too moist, then the Chaklis will absorb excess oil while being fried and become greasy.


Use a “naazhi” or an Indian dough press, and use the plate/ disc used for making “Muthusaram” or “Mullumrukku”. Lightly grease the inside of the cylinder of the dough press and slip the plate/ disc inside. Pinch off a piece of the dough, shape it into a cylinder and push it into the press. Keep the rest of the dough covered to prevent it from drying out.
Close the press and pipe/ press out the dough onto parchment paper, foil or a thin cotton towel, moving in concentric circles to form small spirals, tucking the ends neatly. You can make them as small or as big as you want but the usual Chakli size is about 3 to 5 concentric circles. This is a good video to watch to get an idea about how to shape the Chaklis, if you are new to this.


Heat the oil in a wok until it is reasonably hot but not smoking hot. If your oil is too hot, the Chaklis will brown too quickly without cooking inside. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the Chaklis will become greasy. Drop a small piece of dough into the oil when you feel it is quite hot. If it bubbles and rises to the surface your oil is the right temperature.
Slowly lift up the parchment/ foil/ cloth and turn the Chakli onto your palm and carefully slide it into the oil. You can fry about 5 or 6 in a batch, over medium heat. Let them rise up and fry for a couple of minutes before agitating them. Keep turning them on both sides frequently to cook them evenly and slowly. When they are golden brown, take them out of the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining dough and use it up.
Let them cool completely when they will firm up and become crunchy. Store them in an airtight container and serve with tea or coffee. This recipe makes a reasonably large batch, and the numbers would depend on the size of your Chaklis.
Other Posts In This Series:



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December 19, 2011

A Week Of An Indian Christmas – Day #4 : Avalose Unda (Cardamom Flavoured Rice & Jaggery Laddoos) & Avalose Podi

A
valose Unda is a popular snack but also a Christmas-time favourite from Kerala, my home state. I must confess right here that I know very little about this particular preparation beyond having eaten it a few times, either while visiting some friends or when it came in the Christmas hampers our neighbours back home would send us on Christmas morning.
The more famous Christmas specials  from Kerala are the Plum Cake (which actually has no plums, despite the name) and Achappam (Rose Cookies), but the Avalose Unda has its own little space under the Kerala sun!
More frequently eaten as a “naalu mani palaharam” or “four o’clock snack” is the Avalose Podi (podi means powder, and I haven’t a clue about the Avalose part) which is converted into theAvalose Unda, a rice and jaggery ball/ laddoo which is made at various times of the year in Kerala, including Christmas.




If I belong to Kerala, how is it that I know next to nothing about this favourite in Christian homes in my state? First of all, I belong to a small community that, though very much a part of Kerala today, migrated from Tamil Nadu hundreds of years ago. Our families were not just Hindu but also of the priestly caste too so that meant that our cuisine was not at all influenced by culinary traditions of other communities around us that were non-vegetarian, including Christians.
Mentioning this may not be politically correct in today’s world, and though I do not subscribe to the thought that people are unequal based on caste, this is how our world was sometime back, and it influenced a lot of things including our food habits.
So as children, we were not exposed much to the way people ate in non-vegetarian Hindu or Hindu households unless we had very close friends in these communities. It was a very different world then, and one couldn’t really blame people for the prejudices they grew up with even in a very forward thinking state like Kerala.
I first came across Avalose Podi only when I had started working, and a colleague and good friend brought me some from home. Now Avalose Podi is made from rice powder and fresh grated coconut which are roasted with some cumin seeds till light golden.  This gives the Avalose Podi a very long shelf life (upto 6 months and sometimes longer) so you can make a huge batch of it and use it whenever needed.




Popular as a filling and nutritious evening snack, in Kerala it is usually eaten sweetened with sugar (or honey sometimes) or with banana which makes it easier to swallow.  Occasionally, it is also used to make Avalose Unda (“Unda” means ball) for festive occasions or just because the occasion demands it.
To make Avalose Unda, one needs to make the Avalose Podi first, though I understand this powder is available readymade these days. This video might be helpful, and though it is in Malayalam, I think just watching it should help.
This is a treat which is very easy to make, and one needs to note just two things. First is the the Avalose Podi requires slow and even roasting on medium heat, and that the jaggery syrup for the Avalose Unda should not be cooked beyond one-string consistency. Otherwise you might have something resembling a “Vedi Unda” (cannon ball) in consistency rather than an Avalose Unda!
You might notice that my Avalose Podi is looking exceptionally brown rather than the creamy colour it should be. This is because I used brown rice flour (Chemba puttu podi, as it is known in Kerala) to make my Avalose Podi. Traditionally, only white raw rice flour is used for this but I like the nutty taste of the brown rice flour, and I must say it makes a great Avalose Podi.
Like a lot of traditonal food cooked in Kerala, this dish is gluten-free and can easily be made vegan since the only non-vegan ingredient here is 1 tbsp of ghee.

Other Posts In This Series:


Avalose Podi (Cumin & Sesame Flavoured Roasted Rice Flour And Coconut)


Ingredients:

2 cups coarsely ground rice flour
1 cup fresh grated coconut
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp sesame seeds (optional)
1/2 tsp salt


Method:

If you would like to start from scratch and make your own rice flour, then wash and soak about 1 3/4 cups of raw rice in water for 5 hours. Drain the water, and spread the rice on a clean, dry cotton kitchen towel so that moisture is removed further (about 15 to 20 minutes). Now powder the rice in a mixer/ blender to an almost fine powder. Sieve to remove the larger pieces of rice, and run this again to desired coarseness. The rice powder should feel gritty between your fingers yet be quite fine to the eyes.
I used store-bought rice flour to make things easier for me. The grated coconut needs to be in thin shreds. If it isn’t, run the grated coconut in your mixer/ blender jar a just couple of times to shred it into smaller and almost fine flakes. Do not over process or you will have a wet paste!
In a large bowl, using your hand and fingers, rub and mix the flour and coconut together. This is so that the moistness of the coconut is released into the flour. Add the salt and mix well and keep covered for about half an hour. This time ensures that the rice flour absorbs the moisture released by the coconut. The flour will not be visibly wet, though.
Heat a wok and lightly roast, but do not brown the cumin seeds till they release an aroma. Emty out the cumin seeds into a mortar and lightly crush them. Keep aside. Similarly, lightly roast the sesame seeds till the puff up and pop (do not brown) and keep aside, but do not crush.
In the same wok, put the flour-coconut powder, and over medium heat while stirring frequently, roast until the mixture gives off an aroma and turns a very light brown. Do not let the mixture brown beyond this point. This process will take some time, upto almost half an hour, and patience is required to get it just done.
Just before the Avalose Podi is taken off the heat add the crushed cumin seeds and the sesame seeds. Stir a couple of times and then take the Avalose Podi off the heat. Use your spatula/ spoon to break any lumps that might have formed while roasting the Avalose Podi. Otherwise use your fingers to do this once it has cooled down. Otherwise just run the Avalose Podi, lumps and all, a couple of times in your mixer/ blender to give it a smoother finish.
Let it cool completely and then transfer to an airtight container. This will keep for upto 6 months! This recipe makes 3 cups of Avalose Podi.
Traditionally, Avalose Podi is served with sugar or honey, or sliced bananas which are mashed into the powder before eating it. You can also use this powder to make cardamom flavoured jaggery balls/ laddoos called Avalose Unda. Just follow the recipe below to make this Christmas treat from Kerala, which is also a great non-Christmas time snack.

For Avalose Unda:


Ingredients:

2 3/4 cups Avalose podi/ powder (from above)
1 1/3 cups powdered jaggery
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp ghee
4 to 5 cardamom pods, powdered
Remaining 1/4 cup Avalose Podi, for rolling the “Unda” in


Method:

If your jaggery  needs to be cleaned, put the powdered jaggery and water together in a bowl. Stir till the jaggery till it dissolves completely. Let it stand for about 10 minutes so the impurities settle at the bottom.  Decant the liquid for use.
Run the 1/4 cup Avalose Podi in the mixer/ blender to a smooth powder and spread it out in a plate for rolling the “Avalose Unda” while shaping the laddoos.
Put the jaggery solution in a saucepan and bring it to boil. Cook the solution, stirring occasionally, till it just reaches a “one-thread” consistency. Take care to ensure you do not cook the jaggery beyond this stage or your “unda/ laddoos” will become very hard and difficult to eat!
Take the saucepan off the heat and add the ghee and cardamom powder and mix. Add this syrup to the Avalose Podi and stir with a wooden spoon. It will appear somewhat crumbly/ lumpy but when you take a fistful and try to shape it, it will hold its shape.
Lightly grease your palms with oil/ ghee. While the mixture is still quite hot but comfortable to handle, take fistfuls of the mixture and shape into small round balls, about the size of small lemons/ limes, working quickly.
Roll the Avalose Unda in the 1/4 cup fine Avalose Podi (from the first set of steps above) and place on a plate. Repeat until the mixture is used up. Store the Avalose Unda in airtight containers.
This recipe makes about 20 Avalose Unda.

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December 16, 2011

A Week Of An Indian Christmas – Day #3 : Baath Cake/ Baatica/ Batega (Goan Coconut And Semolina Cake)

T
his time I thought I would try my hand and feature something that was truly Goan and a Christmas-time favourite here. I had never made a Baath Cake or Baatica/ Batega as it is also known (pronounced Baatkh, the “a” at the end being somewhat silent and just hinted at in pronunciation), and this seemed as good a time as ever to do so.
Goan Catholic cuisine is, not surprisingly, heavily influenced by Portuguese food and flavours yet truly Indian in character when it comes to the spices and other ingredients it uses. This is another cake which probably has origins in Portuguese cuisine. I haven’t found any indications of a Portuguese cake made with semolina, though there might be one given the Moroccan influence over Portugal, it is possible that there is a version of the Middle Eastern Basbousa (semolina cake) being made in Portugal.



When the recipe possibly came to Goa, it ended up using indigenous ingredients and became the Bolo de Baatica. Of course, I don’t have any material to confirm this, and it’s just an idea.
Now the Baatica does not stop its journey in Goa. The Portuguese had also colonised Malacca so I guess it was natural to find out that a quite a few Goan recipes are quite popular out there especially with the Peranakan/Baba Nyonya community. They make a somewhat different version of the Goan cake, many of them with almond meal, and all-purpose/ cake flour as well as semolina, and out there it is known as Kek Sugee or the Sugee Cake. The “Sugee” is another spelling for the Indian word “Sooji” for Semolina (Rava).
Getting back to the Goan Batica, this cake is one of the items traditionally made for Christmas as part of the Christmas Consoada as it is called here (or Kuswar), though some families did not make cakes for Christmas as butter and eggs used to be expensive.


Batica is a cake made with semolina (rava) and coconut. It is not surprising that a lot of sweets (and savouries) made along the Western states of India feature coconuts because this is literally the “coconut belt” of India. You just cannot escape seeing coconut palms anywhere you go in this part of India.
A lot of recipes for Baatica call for quite a bit of butter and eggs. Actually, it strikes me that the Baatica is almost like pound cake, but made with semolina! It is a soft, somewhat dense and crumbly but moist cake. What is unusual about the Baatica, is that unlike any other cake I have ever seen, the batter requires a “resting period” of usually 6 to 8 hours or even overnight!!



My recipe needs a “resting period” of about 3 hours. Other than that, it is a cake than is easy to make and can be put together in no time. This recipe also has a lot less butter (you can use more if you wish) and just two eggs. This made for a nice moist cake which wasn’t heavy. Please remember not to over-bake this cake or it will dry out and lose its moistness.      
 
Other Posts In This Series:


Baath Cake/ Baatica (Goan Coconut And Semolina Cake)


Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups milk
35 gm butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups fresh grated coconut (not very tightly packed)
1 1/2 cups semolina (rava)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs


Method:

Put the milk, butter and sugar in a large saucepan and warm it slightly. Turn off the heat and keep stirring till the butter and sugar dissolve completely. Now add the semolina, the coconut, salt and vanilla.
Mix well, cover and let it stand at room temperature for 3 hours.
Beat the eggs well with a whisk, till fluffy. Add this to the semolina batter along with the baking powder. Mix well and pour the batter into a greased and floured 9” round cake tin.
Bake at 170C (325F) for about 35 to 40 minutes or till the cake is cooked. Do not over-bake the cake. The cake should spring back when the top is touched gently with a finger. Cool the cake in the tin for about 10 minutes and carefully remove. Let the cake cool completely.
Cut/ slice and serve at room temperature. This Baatica should serve 8 to 10.
This cake makes a nice snack cake with coffee or tea. You may also serve it warm with a scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice-cream for dessert.

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December 14, 2011

A Week Of An Indian Christmas – Day #2 : Kulkuls/ Kalkals/ Kidyo (Sugar Glazed Deep-Fried Dough Curls)

A
fter Nankhatais, it is the turn of Kulkuls (or Kalkals), also called Kidyo in Goa. Kulkuls are made by deep-frying inch long bits of sweet dough moulded/ shaped into small curls (like butter curls) which are often also coated with a sugar glaze which dries out. The kulkuls tend to resemble small worms, hence the name “Kidyo” in Konkani, the language spoken in Goa. If you do not to think of them as “wworms” you can think of them as shell shaped. I like to think that the name “Kulkul/ Kalkal comes from the rattling sound of these little treats jostling one another when they’re shaken in sugar syrup or maybe in the tin in which they would be stored.
Kulkuls are made during the Christmas in Goa and an important item in the Kuswar (a collection of Goan Christmas-time treats), and are distributed to neighbours. They’re also taken along to give away during "obligatory" visits to friends and family.



Many of the typically Christmas-time treats like the Nevri or the Chakli (posts to come in this series) are foods that are typically Indian and are prepared by various other communities are celebratory fare. Kulkuls however are typically prepared traditionally by the Christian community alone. Someone points out the Kulkuls are actually a variation of the Portuguese Filhoses Enroladas, which is a roll or curvy noodle shaped Christmas-time sweet that is deep-fried and sugar glazed. So it is possible that Kulkuls were brought to India by the Portuguese.

A slightly different version of this is made in Kerala for Christmas. They're called "Diamond Cuts (or just Cuts)" and are thin diamond shaped pieces of dough which are also glazed with sugar syrup, or just dusted with powdered sugar.
The dough recipe is a little different since no semolina is used. A somewhat soft pliable dough is made of all-pupose flour, water, a little salt, and an egg. The dough is then rolled out thin (about a 1/4" thick) and cut into 1" diamond shapes which are deep-fried and later glazed with sugar syrup. 
In northern India, an eggless version of Diamond Cuts are made and the savoury version of this is called Namakpare (Namak meaning salt in Hindi) and a sweet version called Shakkarpare (Shakkar meaning sugar in Hindi). I have earlier posted a baked and savoury version of this.
There are recipes which use only all-purpose flour and those that use a combination of all-purpose flour and a bit of semolina (rava). Semolina tends to add a bit of crunch, and I used it in my Kulkuls. You can also leave out the egg if you choose but it will make a difference to the texture. Kulkuls can be all crunchy or sometimes a bit crunchy and a little soft on the inside. It all depends on the recipe you use. These are crunchy on the outside and a little soft inside.




Kulkuls do not need to be glazed with sugar, so you can increase the sugar in the recipe given below and leave out the glaze for a less sweet treat. Alternatively, you can lightly dust them with powdered sugar as soon as they come out of the oil.
The smaller sized Kulkuls look nicer but require even more time to shape them than the slightly larger ones.  Being time and labour intensive, this is one of those recipes you do not get your hands in the dough a day ahead. Think about a week or at least 3 days ahead!




Traditionally families (near and extended), friends and close neighbours would get roped into the act of rolling Kulkuls off the moulds a few days before Christmas. So this is one of those “family time together” kinds of activity where every extra pair of hands is a bonus. Of course, if you have a family whose idea of “family activity” means coming in at the end of everything and offers to be your taste testers, then you have a half-day or whole-day’s work ahead of you depending on the quantity you’re making. It’s unbelievable how much time you put into making a handful of these only to see a handful of it disappear into someone’s mouth in a minute! 


Kulkuls/ Kidyo (Sugar Glazed Deep-Fried Dough Curls)


Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup fine semolina
2 tbsp granulated sugar (increase to 4 or 5 tbsp if not glazing)
2 tbsp butter (at room temperature)/ oil
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
about 1/2 cup fresh coconut milk*
oil for greasingpalms, moulds and deep frying
Also a clean, unused comb or a fork to mould the kulkuls

For the sugar glaze: 
 1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water 


Method:

*Add 1/2 cup warm water to 1 1/2 cups of freshly grated coconut and blend into as much of a paste as possible. Using your hand or a fine-meshed sieve, squeeze out the milk from the ground coconut. Strain if necessary before using. This should give you about 3/4 cup of coconut milk.
Discard the squeezed out coconut solids or pan roast it till brown and add it to the other ingredients before grinding to make a version of this spicy and dry chutney powder.
You can knead the dough by hand or use the food processor like I did. 
First, pan roast the fine semolina till it gives off a nutty aroma but do not brown. Let it cool to room temperature.
Put the flour, roasted semolina, salt, sugar and butter/ oil into the food processor bowl. Break the egg into this and run the processor a couple of times till the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Now add about half of the coconut milk and process, adding just as much more of the coconut milk as is required to obtain a smooth, elastic and pliable dough which is just short of sticky.
Turn out the dough onto your work surface and knead some more if necessary, wetting your palms with coconut milk till you have a dough of desired consistency. Place the dough in a bowl, cover and keep aside for a couple of hours so that the semolina swells up and softens.
After the dough has rested, it is ready to be moulded. You can use a Kulkul mould, the teeth an unused and clean fine-toothed plastic comb or the tines of a fork to roll the Kulkuls.
Pinch off little bits of dough and roll them into smooth balls a little larger than a pea, using lightly greased palms. Work with one little ball at a time leaving the rest of them covered so they don’t dry out. If you can find a clean unused plastic fine toothed comb use that, else the tines of a fork will do just as well. Lightly grease teeth of the comb or the tines of a fork. Use the back of the tines to shape the Kulkuls. You might take a look at this video to get a better idea of how to shape the Kulkuls. It is like shaping gnocchi. 


Place one small ball of dough on the back of the fork tines. Using your fingers, press down lightly and flatten the dough into a uniformly thin rectangular shape that covers the tines. Roll the rectangle from one end to the other and seal the edge well without losing the indentations formed by the tines. This is your Kulkul. Place it on a lightly greased plate/ tray. Use up the dough making Kulkuls this way.
Heat the oil in a wok. Do not let the oil become too hot. If you drop a bit of dough (or 1 Kulkul) into the oil and it bubbles up and rises to the surface your oil is the right temperature. Hotter oil will cause the Kulkuls to brown quickly without cooking them inside.
Once the oil is hot enough, drop as many Kulkuls as will comfortably go into the oil. Once they come up, using a slotted spoon, keep turning them over frequently so they cook and brown uniformly. Once they are done and golden brown colour, take them out and drain on paper towels. 


If you are going to, this is the time to dust them with powdered sugar. Otherwise leave them as they are store them in airtight container once they have cooled completely.
If you plan to glaze them, prefderably the next day, heat the sugar and water in a pan while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and allow the sugar to form a syrup that coats the spoon or is of one thread consistency.
Drop the Kulkuls into this syrup and shake the pan, or use a spoon to mix everything so the Kulkuls are evenly coated with sugar syrup. Transfer the Kulkuls to a plate quickly, separating them with a fork so they do not stick to each other. Let them cool and dry out. Then store in an airtight container. If you like your Kulkuls frosted with sugar (kids love these), just make a thicker syrup (soft ball stage).
This recipe makes a small batch of Kulkuls, probably enough to serve a family with tea or coffee. If you plan on making enough to distribute to friends and the neighbourhood, double, triple or quadruple the recipe. I just hope that’s enough for everyone!
Some tips which might help you while making Kulkuls:
1.    The consistency of the dough is important – soft and pliable, otherwise shaping the Kulkuls can get difficult.
2.    Kulkuls puff up a bit during deep-frying, so make sure you use roughly pea-size balls of dough and flatten the dough well before rolling it up otherwise you would end up with rather big ones. Taste-wise it won’t matter bit but might look a little strange aesthetically, like bugs/ caterpillars rather than curls/ shell-like!
3.   For prettier looking Kulkuls, a fine toothed comb is the way to go. You get finer striations with a comb than with the tines of a fork.
4.    Remember to pinch and seal each Kulkul well after moulding or they will open up in the oil.
5.    The oil temperature is important. It should not be too hot.
6.    Do make sure you frequently agitate the Kulkuls in the oil while deep-frying to ensure uniform cooking and colour.  You don’t want to end up with Kulkuls looking like they had a bad tan day – overdone on the top and pale on the underside!
7.    If you’re not going to glaze your Kulkuls, add a little more sugar to the dough. Kulkuls are traditionally sweet, but go ahead and make them spicy for a change by adding a bit of chilli powder/ crushed pepper to the dough and they make a great tea-time snack!


Other Posts In This Series:

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