Sabyasachi’s Walnut Karanji Recipe

Chef Sabyasachi Gorai‘s crunchy Walnut Karanji is a fresh, baklava-ish take on the customary Holi sweet.

Photograph: California Walnuts

Walnut Karanji

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 1 cup maida or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp sooji or semolina
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • Lukewarm water, to knead
  • Oil for deep frying

For the filling

  • 1 cup khoya or milk solids
  • ¼ cup desiccated coconut
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts
  • ¼ cup castor sugar (a kind of finer sugar manufactured by top baking brands)
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tsp green elaichi or green cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp kesar or saffron strands

For the sugar syrup, optional

  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • ¼ to ½ tsp green elaichi or green cardamom powder
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • Few strands of kesar or saffron

To serve

  • Finely chopped walnuts

Method

For the dough

  • In a big bowl combine the dough ingredients, except the oil, with the lukewarm water.
    Knead into a soft pliable dough.
    Cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes.

For the filling

  • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or kadhai, add the khoya, dry coconut and toast over low heat for 15 minutes.
    When the mixture turns light brown, add the saffron strands.
    Mix and take off heat.
  • In another frying pan toast the walnuts over medium heat.
    Once they start giving off a fragrance take off heat and cool completely.
    Grind the roasted walnuts in a mixer/blender to a fine powder.
    Add the ground walnuts to the khoya mixture along with the sugar, cardamom powder, milk.
    Mix well.

For the karanji

  • Take a small golf-sized ball of the dough and roll it into a thin circle.
    In one half, place some of the stuffing mixture and fold the other half over to make it into a karanji.
    Apply water along the edges and seal tight.
    Use a fork to secure the edges, making imprints with the fork.
  • Heat oil over high heat in a kadhai or wok and then lower heat.
    Fry the karanji until golden brown in colour.
    The key to perfect karanjis is patience and also frying them in medium-hot oil for a crispy outer layer.
    Drain on a tissue or paper towel-lined plate.

For the sugar syrup

  • Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat.
    Scum will form on top of the syrup.
    Spoon out and discard scum and keep boiling until the syrup reduces and starts to thicken and has a one-thread consistency (please see the note below).
    Dip each karanji in the syrup for 2-3 minutes and drain onto a plate.
    Garnish with chopped walnuts and serve.

Note: A one-thread or one-string syrup is sugar syrup viscous enough to pass the one-thread test.
It is important to keep testing for consistency while the sugar syrup is boiling.
The test for this is: Dip a spatula, preferably wooden, into the boiling sugar syrup and take out.
Some syrup would have coated the spatula.
Let it cool.
Touch the cooled syrup with your forefinger. Some syrup will come onto your finger.
Touch that with your thumb and separate thumb from forefinger.
When one little continuous delicate thread is formed by the syrup, when the coated forefinger is pulled away from your thumb, you have one-thread consistency sugar syrup.

For vegan karanjis, replace the 1 cup khoya with 3/4 cup coconut milk powder (available online), replace the butter with cashew butter (available online), increase the desiccated coconut to a ½ cup and replace the 2 tbsp milk with 2 tbsp almond milk.

For sugar-free karanjis substitute the castor sugar with stevia powder. And skip dipping the karanji in sugar syrup. Each brand of stevia has its own stevia for sugar substitution ratio provided on its packing.

For sodium-free karanjis, skip the baking soda.

Chef Sabyasachi Gorai is a consultant chef and mentor.

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