Holidays are a time for families and friends to get together and celebrate – this means it’s also time for delicious food! Food is always a part of any festive occasion, and sweets, in particular, are especially fun and tasty. These recipes are not only scrumptious, they are also easy. So, this year get the whole family into the kitchen to share in the joy of this holiday season!
BESAN KA LADOO
Besan Ka Laddoo is made on several special occasions and festivals. The trick to getting this sweet right is in browning the besan (gram flour) perfectly.
- 4 cups besan (bengal gram flour)
- 2 cups ghee (clarified butter)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp cardamom powder
- Melt the ghee over a medium flame, in a thick-bottomed pan.
- Add the besan and brown till you get a cooked aroma from it. The besan will also turn darker as it cooks and when done should be a deep golden brown color.
- This browning process can take up roughly 20 minutes.
- Add the cardamom and mix well.
- Turn off the fire and mix in the powdered sugar. Stir well.
- Allow the mix to cool. When cool, form into golf ball-sized rounds. Place on a lightly greased, flat tray till they set well.
- Store in an air-tight container in a cool place.
A great sweet to prepare with the family, Kulkuls are made all over India during holidays.
- 1/2 kg plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup coconut cream
- 4 tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 tbsp butter
- Oil for deep frying
- 1 cup sugar
- 3-4 tbsp water
- Mix the flour and baking powder well. Add the butter a little at a time, mixing gently.
- Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add them to the flour-butter mix.
- Add the sugar and coconut milk to this and mix into a soft dough.
- Form the dough into small marble-sized balls.
- Grease the back of a fork with some oil and flatten and press a ball of dough onto it.
- Starting at one end, roll the dough off the fork and into a tight curl. The end result will be a tube-like curl with the design from the fork on it! Make the remaining dough similarly until it is all used up.
- Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan on a medium flame. When hot, fry the kulkuls in it, making sure to turn often, till they are a light golden brown in color. Drain and cool on paper towels.
- Put the sugar and water in a separate pan and cook till the sugar melts fully.
- Put the cooled kulkuls into this sugar syrup and coat well.
- Remove and place in a plate until the sugar encrusts on the kulkuls.
- When fully cooled, you can store the kulkuls for a considerable amount of time if kept in an air-tight container.
A favorite holiday cookie, Naan khatais have slightly different recipes depending on where in India they are made. This recipe is Goan in origin.
- 3/4 kg plain flour sifted
- 1/2 kg finely powdered sugar
- 1/2 kg white unsalted butter
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 kg fine semolina
- 15 green cardamom pods skins removed and powdered
- 2 tbsp green cardamom powder to decorate Naan khatais
- Put the butter in a deep, heavy-bottomed pan, over a low to medium flame and bring to a boil. Simmer and cook till all the water in it evaporates. Once done, let it sit overnight.
- The next morning, whisk the butter well with a wooden spoon till it is creamy in texture.
- Slowly add the sugar, salt and cardamom powder to the butter and mix well till all the sugar is dissolved.
- You can do this mixing by hand or in a food processor with the dough kneading attachment.
- Now add the flour and semolina, a little at a time, mixing well. When all the flour and semolina has been added and the dough is smooth, cover it with a muslin cloth and leave overnight.
- When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
- Grease your palms slightly and roll all the dough out into balls the size of large marbles.
- Shape each ball into a tiny dome-like shape, placing them 2″-3″ apart on a greased baking tray.
- Dip the tip of one of your fingers in the cardamom powder kept for decorating the Nankaties and dot the top of each cookie with it.
- Bake the Nankaties for 15-20 minutes watching carefully to ensure they do not burn.
- Store in an air-tight container.
TIL KA GAJAK (sesame brittle)
Til Ka Gajak is a popular sweet for Diwali. It is also made especially during the cold North Indian winter months since sesame is believed to have warming properties.
- 1 cup sesame seeds toasted lightly
- 1 cup unrefined sugar
- 3 tbsp ghee (clarified butter)
- 6-8 pods of cardamom seeds removed and ground into a powder
- 1/2 cup water
- Put the sugar and water in a pan to form a thick syrup.
- To test if it is done, drop a little into a bowl of chilled water. If it forms a ball the syrup is ready. If not, cook some more.
- Add the toasted sesame seeds to the syrup and mix well.
- Add the ghee and cardamom powder and mix well.
- Grease a flat plate with a little ghee and pour the sugar-sesame mix on to it.
- Flatten and spread the mix over the plate.
- Allow to harden and then break into pieces. Store in an air-tight container.
CARDAMOM MILK (Elaichi Doodh)
- 3 tbsp. white poppy seeds dry roasted in a pan
- 15 blanched almonds
- 1 cup water
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 tablespoon Poppy Seeds
- 1/2 tsp. cardamom seeds
- sugar to taste
- Dry roast poppy seeds in a heavy frying pan over low heat for about 5 minutes. Stir often so as not to burn the seeds.
- Combine the poppy seeds, almonds, and water in a blender or food processor fitted with the metal blade, and process for 2-3 minutes or until the nuts are reduced to a fine puree. Add 2 cups milk and further blend on low speed for about 15 seconds.
- Pour the mixture through a strainer over a pan. Press out as much liquid as possible, and then add the remaining milk and cardamom seeds.
- Stir constantly, and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the sugar.
- Pour the milk back and forth from one pan to another to make the milk frothy.
- Serve with a sprinkling of freshly ground cardamom.
MANGO MILK SHAKE
- 2 cup mango pulp from a can or flesh of 3 ripe mangoes
- 6 cups milk
- 3 Tbsp. sugar for canned mango pulp (use more sugar if fresh mangoes used.
- 10 crushed ice cubes
- Blend all the ingredients in a blender.
- Serve cold in a tall glass with a garnish of fresh mango slices.