Diwali is round the corner! Diwali is a Hindu festival and is called the Festival of Lights. It is the biggest festival of the year. Diwali is celebrated for very many reasons, and it signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. The celebration holds different meanings in different parts of India. The festival lasts for 5 days and all over India, there are joyous celebrations, lights lit everywhere, people buying new household items, or making big investments or purchases during this auspicious time.
Diwali and Navratri are perhaps the biggest festivals at my home. Diwali meant a lot of things – for my dad, it meant good luck with his business. For my mom it meant a lot of things, like a new start, with cleaning the house, throwing away junk from the house, metaphorically, as well as cleaning out the bad that may have occurred in the past year. Mom loved having guests over for Diwali, and serve them all her sweet and savory preparations, meticulously placed on a plate for each individual, and beautifully presented. She loved doing that – She loved having people over and serving them food made by her. That was her biggest joy and contentment, seeing people enjoy her food. For my brother and I as kids, it meant holidays from school lol. It meant we could lounge about and sleep in, and watch tv, and play and pretty much do nothing.
My favorite thing to do on Diwali day was make Rangoli. I would make these designs outside our home, with colored sand powder and once the design was done, we put diyas or little lamps around it, and it would look so pretty! I would participate in Rangoli competitions in school as well as college. I never won, but I always enjoyed participating. Another favorite part was we as children would get money from our elders, since this was also significant of the Hindu New Year, so that was very exciting for us :).
So mom would make a bunch of things – Gujarati snacks and sweets and I would help to make her all of the goodies. She would make chaklis, chorafadi, mathia, chevdo, laddu, her famous biscuits and ghugharas. These were the items that would last long and could be stored in air tight containers for a longer duration. Other items like Shrikhand and gajjar no halwo which are perishable items, were made too, but they would be consumed within a couple of days of making.
Keeping this tradition in mind, my friend Hetal from Milk & Cardamom and I have collaborated to create a beautiful Diwali box, with plenty of sweet and savory ideas that you can make for your near and dear ones for Diwali! 🙂 Diwali is a time for celebration, sharing, family time, love and laughter. Diwali brings color and light to the home and to our hearts. Both of us will be making 3 sweets and 1 savory dish to share with you – one each day, and we will share the final Diwali box next week! 🙂
The first recipe, that I am sharing is this riff on Ghughras – traditionally ghughras are made with semolina, dried coconut, ghee, pistachios, almonds, cashews, raisins, cardamom, nutmeg, saffron, sugar and heavy cream. I made a filling of chocolate walnut semolina fudge, with nutmeg and cardamom as the spices, to fill in the ghughras. Growing up, we used to get a lot of good fudge from Pune. Pune is known for its good fudge, and my favorite was chocolate and walnut fudge. The chocolate walnut fudge is made with condensed milk, chocolate chips, butter, and chopped walnuts, along with dried coconut, semolina, nutmeg and cardamom. The filling is so delicious by itself and you could set it on a tray and cut it into pieces to serve as is. I used the filling to stuff it in a dough, replicating pie dough, to make fried hand pies or Ghughras. The little pockets are frozen for 15 minutes, and then fried to perfection. They are dusted with powdered sugar to give them a final touch. They are so delicious to eat on the day that they are made. To eat them later on, you could put them in a toaster oven for a minute or so, and dust with powdered sugar. Super delish!
Go check out Hetal’s recipe of the Caramelized White Chocolate Penda Bark, linked here. It is a great recipe with a base of Parle-G biscuits, penda mixture, and topped with caramelized white chocolate, garnished with pretty flower petals! I loved the different layers and how pretty and precise they were, and how delicious they tasted! Go give it a try!!! 🙂
Recipe#2 coming tomorrow! Stay tuned!
- (Makes about 40 mini ghughras)
- Ghughra dough:
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup(1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
- ¼ cup ice cold water
- Chocolate Walnut Semoline Fudge Filling:
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/3 cup semolina
- ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
- ½ cup condensed milk
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp butter
- ½ cup chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- Powdered sugar for final touch
- Ghughra dough:
- In a medium bowl, add in the flour, sugar, salt and whisk to combine. Now add in the shortening and butter and using a pastry cutter, cut through the dough until the butter is in pea-sized pieces. Now add in the apple cider vinegar and water and mix the dough until it is well combined. Wrap the dough in a plastic wrap, form a nice smooth disc and refrigerate for an hour atleast.
- Chocolate Walnut Semolina Fudge Filling:
- Meanwhile, let’s make the filling. In a small saucepan, on medium heat, add in the butter and let it melt. Then add in semolina, and keep mixing until it is golden brown about 8 minutes. Switch off the gas and set it aside.
- In a medium saucepan, on medium heat, add in all the ingredients and stir to combine. Keep stirring until all the chocolate melts and the mixture is cohesive about 5 minutes. Now stop stirring and let the butter start separating, about 2-3 minutes. Then you know the mixture is done. Switch off the gas. Remove in a bowl and set it aside. Let it cool completely about an hour.
- Remove the dough from the fridge, and roll it out to about 4mm thickness. Using a 2.75 inch biscuit cutter, cut out rounds out of the dough and set it aside on a baking tray. With the scraps, roll it up into a round disc, wrap it in the plastic wrap and put it in the fridge again to reuse the scraps for more rounds.
- Now hold a round disc in your palm. Put about 1 teaspoon of the chocolate walnut semolina fudge filling in the middle of the disc. Fold it to form a semi circle, and press the edges to seal it, set it aside on the baking tray. Repeat for all the rounds. Using a fork, make an indentation all around the round part of the semi-circle of each ghughra to make a pretty design. Repeat on all the ghughras. Put the baking tray in the freezer for 15 minutes.
- Repeat with the remaining dough and filling to form the second batch of ghugras.
- In a large saucepan filled with vegetable oil half way up, put it on the stove on medium to high heat. Using a candy thermometer, let the oil heat up to 370 degrees C. Put about 3-4 ghughras at a time and fry for about 15-20 seconds on each side, until golden brown. Remove them on a large plate with parchment paper. Repeat for the remaining ghughras. Dust with powdered sugar once they are cool. Store in an air tight container for a week.