Try Gujiyas with a healthy, modern spin
Gujiyas are crescent-shaped deep-fried goodies with a crisp exterior that gives way to a mildly sweet stuffing of all things delicious such as khoya, dried fruits, nuts and coconut. This is a delicacy prepared mainly during Holi in the Northern states of Bihar, UP, MP and Rajasthan. It is also prepared during Diwali. Versions of this sweet are prepared in the South, too, and it goes by the names of ‘somas’, ‘garijalu’ and ‘kajjikaya’. There may be minor variations in the filling and flavours but the basic recipe remains the same. A similar preparation is called kaaranji in Marathi and gughra in Gujarati.
Sweet treats like gujiya are prepared specially for festivals and are not an everyday food. There is no harm in indulgences like these to mark happy celebrations with family and friends, as long as care is taken to eat in moderation as a part of a diet which is otherwise balanced and rich in nutritious foods.
To make gujiyas in the traditional style, the dough for the casing is made using maida or refined flour. Adequate quantity of ghee is rubbed into the flour to give the fried casing the crumbly crisp texture of shortcrust pastry. This is made into a stiff dough using cold water. The dough is rested, divided into small balls and each one rolled out into a puri. A stuffing is prepared using khoya or mava sautéed in ghee, along with a mix of nuts like almonds, cashews, chiroli and raisins. Alternately, sautéed mava is mixed along with rava roasted in ghee, desiccated coconut and sugar, along with assorted chopped nuts. This filling is spooned onto one half of the puri, folded over and the edges crimped and sealed. This is typically deep-fried in ghee, but some prefer to fry it in oil.
Gujiyas are sometimes dipped in sugar syrup and served with a sprinkling of chopped pista and saffron strands. You can also drizzle them with honey or maple syrup just before serving. Garnish with dried rose petals for a burst of colour.
To add a healthier twist, try substituting half the maida for whole wheat flour or atta and follow the same process. One stuffed and sealed, brush the gujiyas with melted ghee. Arrange on a baking tray and bake in a preheated oven at 180-190°C for 12-15 minutes until golden brown spots appear and the casing is baked to a crisp.
You can also try a couple of healthy options with the filling. Combine sattu flour roasted in ghee along with powdered jaggery, desiccated coconut and chopped almonds and use this to fill the gujiyas. You can also toast a mix of seeds such as flax, sesame, sunflower, melon and pumpkin seeds. Pulse this in the mixer a few times until coarsely crushed. In a pan, heat some ghee and sauté grated khoya for 3-4 minutes. Add a few spoons of date puree and then the crushed seed mix. Sprinkle green cardamom powder and keep stirring until it comes together to form a ball. Use this as the mixture to stuff gujiyas. The stuffing is rich in healthy fats from the mix of seeds and is naturally sweetened using dates. You can also dip one half of the gujiya in melted chocolate and let it set in the refrigerator to give it a touch of a modern dessert.
This Holi, enjoy the goodness of homemade gujiyas, be it traditional or the modern style with your own spin on it.
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