Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Kaju Katli Revisited (Vegan and Glutenfree Cashew thins and truffles) for Diwali

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This post was supposed to come on Monday before Diwali and for the Food Day. I support Meatless Monday so this was going to be my contribution to the website for the Food Day celebration. But then I pulled a back muscle real nice and landed on the bed. Well, this recipe was kind of the culprit in that too but hey I cannot complain! That's what festivals are all about, isn't it? Unless you have a few pulled muscles, a couple cuts and burns here and there, a few broken dishes and a lot of chaos, how can you make memories? Isn't that the best part about celebrations? In spite of all such small mishaps and those family dramas which I am sure every family has (at least mine did and still does), all we remember later is that everyone got together, had a few laughs, enjoyed a meal and celebrated each other. Yes, that is what a festival is all about. Its about telling them that you care and you cherish them!

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While I am sitting here on my couch next to a big pile of unfolded laundry and two empty coffee mugs writing this, miles away my mummy, papa, my kid brother and a lot of people I care about must be busy celebrating one of the biggest festivals of India. Its Diwali in India today and the whole country will be dressed up like a new bride. There must be colored luminescent lights hanging on every balcony and yard. Mithaiwalas (sweet shop owners) would be up before sunrise prepping for the big day - as soon as they open the shop, they will not have a second to catch a breath. Mummy and all my aunties will get together to cook some Diwali treats. But mainly they would want to know who is wearing what and mentally plan how to outdo each other. The male members couldn't care less and must be sitting together sipping on some hot chai that ladies will be sending out every hour with those treats, perfuming the entire house.

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In the evening everyone dresses up in a traditional attire, meet at someone's place (usually the eldest one) and do Diwali pooja (prayers). As soon as they will be done with pooja and step out of the house, there will be diwali lights everywhere. Every nook and corner of the city will be illuminated and so will every face. There will be fireworks, old stories, some tears and a lot of laughter. That is Diwali, the festival of lights as they say.

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When Lord Rama, after freeing his wife Sita from the hands of evil Ravana, came back home along with his beloved brother Lakshmana after 14 years of banishment, he was welcomed home with diyas (ghee lamps). The entire city lit ghee lamps to show how much they loved him and were happy to have him back. Ever since, the day is celebrated as Deepavali which literally means "row of lamps". The main essence of this festival is to celebrate your inner light and take pleasure in simple things in life that have the most meaning after all.

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Now if you would excuse me, I should go get the house ready so that when the little one wakes up in the morning, we are all ready to make our own memories of Diwali. Leaving you with a traditional Indian sweet recipe which happens to be my all time favorite. This one again counts as one of my recipes with the smallest ingredient list. I tried to give an old favorite Kaju Katli (sweet cashew thins) a new modern face but the essence and taste is still the same. Check out the recipe!

Ingredients: (Makes approx. 35 kaju katli and 10 truffles)

1/2 pounds dried cashews (soaked in water overnight)
1 cup sugar (I like it mildly sweet, you can increase the amount of sugar if you like it sweeter)
1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) (add a vegan substitute for ghee like margarine for a vegan version)
Powdered sugar for dusting (optional)

Method:
Soak cashews in water overnight (or atleast 6-8 hours). They will look puffed up and should have lost oil which should float in water.
Drain out the water and wash the cashews thoroughly.
Now grind them in a blender using very little oil. Just enough to let the blades move, making a smooth paste. Paste should be very thick.
Mix sugar to the cashew paste and transfer it to a wide pan and my friends brace yourself for some hard work. And when I say hard work then I REALLY mean hard work because I have to admit I underestimated the fact when I took up this task, I ended up pulling a muscle. But again laying on the bed when I was munching on those Kaju Katli truffles, I couldn't feel any pain!
So transfer the contents to a wide pan and turn on the heat and keep it to medium low.
Two things stay constant in the cooking of Kaju Katli paste- medium low heat and constant stirring. If you increase heat a little it will start burning and if you stop stirring  for long then also it starts sticking to the pan.
When starting the process of cooking the mixture of cashew paste and sugar the mixture will be very loose and easy to stir. Using a rubber spatula or a whisk (if you are not using a non stick pan) should make the process easier.
After cooking for a few minutes the mixture starts getting thicker and darkens in color. Continue the process for 15-20 minutes and a point will come when the paste starts to become very thick and sticky almost like a dough. Add ghee/butter at this point. You will be losing energy by this time but keep going because you are now very close to the end.
By adding ghee, the paste will again start getting lighter and will be sticking to the spatula (add a vegan substitute for ghee like margarine for a vegan version or can omit completely if you want) Keep stirring until it starts to turn into a ball. When you press it with a finger or back of a spoon it should not stick to your finger. The paste is now ready.
Take it out and place it over a greased surface (baking sheet or kitchen counter). Let it cool for 10-15 minutes until its easy to handle.
Using your hands, make a big ball off of the dough.
You can either place it between two sheets of a plastic wrap or lay it on a greased work station and roll it out using a greased rolling pin or you can make small balls off of it.
Roll it out to the thickness of a thin pizza crust. Using a pizza cutter or knife, cut the rolled out sheet into squares or diamond shapes. Dust them with powdered sugar if you want. Enjoy them right away or store them in refrigerator.

Wishing you all a Very Happy and Prosperous Diwali!

38 comments:

  1. Mmmhhh, what wonderful treats! Those cashew thins look amazing.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. They look gorgeous Prerna. Happy Diwali to you!

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  3. Love love kaju burfi! I do miss being able to go to a sweet shop & being indulging in all those colorful sweets, jalebi, burfi, ras malai etc. so miss it. Lovely easy recipe Prerna!

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  4. These look perfect! I tried making them a few months ago and although the taste was perfect, they were too sticky and soft to get neat diamond shapes .. needless to say I am rubbish at Kaju Katli making :-)

    Wish you and yours a very happy Diwali!

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  5. Happy Diwali to you and your family Prerna. I must admit I'm not a huge fan of burfis and katlis but cashew is one I almost like! I love how easy and neat they look

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  6. I enjoyed reading your description of this special festival, almost feels like I could be in India. These cashew treats look and sound delicious - they're definitely going on my list of things to make.

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  7. Prerna, a very happy Diwali to you and your family. Wishing you health, wealth and shanti. When you resurface from the celebrations can you let me know whether I can substitute the ghee with butter?

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  8. Happy Diwali to you and your family girly. Hope this day brings lots of happiness and light for you all! Great simple recipe too :)

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  9. Hi Prerna...sorry to hear about your pulled muscle. Hopefully you are doing better. This festival sounds like an energy booster. Love the idea of the ghee lamps :)

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  10. Perfect looking Kathlis Prerna.. and nice write up too.
    Happy Diwali to you and your family!

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  11. If you use 1 tbsp ghee it won't be vegan would it?
    Happy Diwali.

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  12. Love Love Love these! Happy Diwali to you and your family Prerna! Lots of best wishes..

    and i hope you are feeling better:)

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  13. hope u feel better.. wish u all a very happy diwali too!
    i just posted a much simpler version of the katli.. no mucle work at all!:) hope u like it.
    Richa @ Hobby And More Food Blog

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  14. Happy Deepavali Prerna!
    Kaju burfi/katli is one of my all time favorites and I can't say no ever!
    Bravo to you for making this post inspite of the pulled muscle.. And you have beautifully expressed the essence of celebrations.. :)

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  15. Beautiful post.. makes me miss India a lot! I love love love Kaju katli and can eat these non stop any time.
    Happy Diwali Prerna :)

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  16. This is fabulous! Happy Diwaii! You do the most incredible work!

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  17. Delicious! I love finding GF and vegan recipes like this. Yum!

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  18. thank you for posting this!! after I had them at my first Diwali dinner last night, I wanted to figure out how to make them. I actually want to surprise my boyfriend with homemade ones like he had growing up, so this is perfect! happy Diwali!

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  19. OH no! I hope your back feels better soon, that's the worst.

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  20. Perfectly done katlis- Simply amazing pics!

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  21. Ooooh! Sounds so lovely and these look so very delicious. Hope you feel better soon! Happy Diwali!

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  22. What great looking treats! So elegant and dainty. But I don't know if I'll be trying them any time soon after hearing they're the cause of your pulled muscle! You poor thing. I hope you recover soon.

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  23. Wishing you and your family a very happy and prosperous diwali...

    God you took me back home with this post my dear...
    I love love simply adore kaju katli...
    Making this first thing in the morning.
    They look so perfect...

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  24. Kaju Katli looks so light and delicate! Powdered sugar on top makes it even more beautiful!

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  25. Yummmmmmmmyyyyyyyyyy ! So neatly done ! :) I'm a little doubtful about my patience to keep stirring the paste for perfection but I really love the fact that you need such less ingredients for such a yumm treat !

    Happy Diwali ! Thank you for the recipe !
    -Neha

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  26. Looks so good! Love the clicks -- hope you don't mind if I feature one in my weekly favorites post.

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  27. I alway wanted to know how they make kaju katlis! Thx o much for sharing

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  28. I love your definition of a successful festival...broken dishes, etc. These cashew thins are something I could nibble on all day long. Beautiful photos as usual, Prerna.

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  29. The cashew thins are gorgeous! I will definitely need to try them. One of the best places to eat in New York makes a cashew cookie, but this is great because of the gluten free concept.

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  30. Kaju katlis is one of my favorite mithai ever. As kids, when we visited anyone's house or for an auspicious occasion mom would gift or serve these.
    The photographs are lovely. Reminds me of home.

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  31. Thanks for the recipe! I've had something similar a few times and always enjoyed it but no clue it required so few ingredients, and ones I already have on hand.

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  32. really beautiful pictures, Prerna. i hope you had a lovely Diwali with your family in your new city and home. x s

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  33. I realize I'm coming upon this super late (just saw these on Pinterest), but not only do these look super tasty, I am seriously coveting your mastery of white balance on all those white on white on white photos ;)

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  34. Hi! I'm working on a recipe round-up of cashew desserts for The Huffington Post Taste and I'd love to feature your recipe. Please contact me if you're interested. Thanks!

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  35. This is initresting! I always wanted to know how to make this kind of food!

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  36. Hello,
    We love your recipes, especially when its on Kaju Katli.
    These are so delicious.
    I have always looked at your blog for the various pictures and the way you write.Just Love it!
    You have shared some nice information about Kaju Katli Revisited in this post.
    The points you mentioned are genuine and perfect.
    The content completely describes about the topic you wanted to portray with us.
    Thanks for sharing such valuable post.

    Regards
    VentairIndia Team

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  37. Has anyone actually tried making these using her recipe?? I just WASTED an hour! It was all going good until it says let it cool 10-15 mins. DO NOT LET IT COOL that long!!!

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