An authentic Diwali treat from food writer Sejal Sukhadwala. This recipe is Gujarati, she says, but regional variations include Maharashtrian ‘karanji’ and Punjabi ‘gujiya’.
"Scented with cardamom and speckled with nuts and sultanas, these pretty coconut pastries are the quintessential Diwali sweetmeat.
Fresh coconut may be used instead of dried, but then the ghughras won’t keep for long. And if you can’t get white poppy seeds, leave them out – do not substitute the black variety.
Ghughras are traditionally fried in ghee, which gives them a rich buttery taste that’s ideal for special occasions. However, many people nowadays fry them in sunflower oil as it’s healthier."
Makes approximately 20 ghughras.
Preparation time: around 15 minutes
Cooking time: around 45 minutes
For the pastry:
250g/ 10 oz plain white flour
2 tablespoons ghee or melted unsalted butter
Approx. 250 ml/ 8 fl oz warm whole milk
For the stuffing:
1 tablespoon ghee or melted unsalted butter
100g/ 4 oz semolina
75g/ 3 oz desiccated coconut
1 tablespoon white poppy seeds
250g/ 10 oz caster sugar
75g/ 3 oz coarsely crushed almonds, cashews and pistachios
2 tablespoons sultanas
1 teaspoon finely ground cardamom seeds
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon saffron, lightly crushed
20 cloves (optional)
Ghee or oil for deep-frying
To make the pastry, mix the flour and ghee, adding milk a little at a time to make a semi-stiff dough. Cover and set aside.
To make the stuffing, heat the ghee in a frying pan and toast the semolina until light brown and aromatic. Remove and set aside.
In the same pan, repeat the process separately with coconut and poppy seeds, toasting them until very pale pink. Remove and set aside. Be careful not to burn the semolina, coconut or poppy seeds; and cool them thoroughly at room temperature.
Mix the semolina with coconut, poppy seeds, caster sugar, crushed nuts, sultanas, cardamom, nutmeg and saffron.
Divide the pastry into 20 balls about the size of a walnut. Roll out the balls into thin discs.
Place approximately 1-2 tablespoons of stuffing on one half of the pastry disc, and fold over the other half to make a crescent shape. Crimp the edges, twisting them slightly as you go. Alternatively, use a pastry cutter or a pastry mould. Make sure the ghughras are completely sealed so that no stuffing falls out.
Stick a clove in the centre of each ghughra, if using. Cover with a damp cloth.
Heat the ghee or oil until just below smoking point. Deep-fry the ghughras in batches on low to medium heat until light brown.
Drain on kitchen paper, and let them cool. Store in an airtight container where they will keep for around 2-3 weeks – if there are any left!
What to drink: I would drink black tea with this. For other Diwali drinks see here.