Our Diwali has always been quite and this time was no exception. Yes we try and do the mandatory spring cleaning on the pretext of welcoming the Goddess Laxmi, get some earthen diyas and some tealight candles to light them on Diwali eve, and make some mithai for the prasad offering to Laxmi Ganesh puja. And that prasad offering is always a simple besan ka laddu and shakkarparey that my mother in law used to make.
Arvind loves these sweet treats that are made so rarely now, not that I don't like these but someone else's choices are greater excuse. Over the years I have realised that our traditional sweets are way more healthy than the industrially made desserts and pastries, even though the calorific value may not be less.
Here is all my effort that took the shape of some sweets and savouries. The white coloured trail mix is a popped rice and peanuts trail mix with a tempering of chillies, curry leaves, cumin and hint of turmeric just like my mother used to make. We get popped rice (called Kheel or dhaan ka lava) only during Diwali season and I try and make the most of this opportunity. This kheel ki namkeen is quite an old favourite of mine. More about that later.
Today I am sharing the recipe of jaggery coated shakkarparey. This is a deep fried pastry (fried dough) coated with fennel infused jaggery. It can be called as jaggery glazed fried cookies too.
I normally make these sugar coated shakkarparey but this time my brother came home and we started talking of the things we liked as kids. We were reminded of the jaggery coated miniature khaja (a deep fried flaky layered pastry) and a jaggery coated sev (finger shaped sticks made of chickpea flour) and of course these gudparey. You know we had a collective obsession about all things jaggery.
I changed my shakkarparey plan to gudparey conveniently and all of us loved them. When I posted the picture on Instagram someone asked for the recipe. The recipe in fact is quite simple but someone who wants to make it for the first time would need instructions. So here it is.
I made a lot of it, packed some for my brother and gave some to the house help and still have some to enjoy over a month. A couple of these is good enough to bring a rich taste. It is not like overly sugary stuff that makes you keep craving for it the whole day.
(make more than a kilo of gudparey)
500 gm maida (or atta)
80-100 gm ghee (for shortening)
cold (not chilled) water to knead the dough
300 gm jaggery (see *note)
3 tbsp or 50 ml water
1 tbsp fennel coarsely pounded
ghee for deep frying (about 500 gm total, about 200 gm gets used)
Rub the 100 gm ghee in the maida till it looks like breadcrumbs and binds together when you press a portion of the flour in your fist. Now add cold water slowly and knead in quick movements. You have to be careful not to overwork the dough, just let it get together in a ball. Overkneading doesn't allow the layers form in the shakkarparey.
Now divide the dough into 4-5 parts and roll out 1 cm thick sheet. Cut the sheet into bite sized diamond shapes. Repeat till you use up the whole dough.
Heat ghee and deep fry the diamond shaped shakkarparey in batches. It has to be fried on low flame so the layers of the shakkarparey open up while frying.
Once all the diamond shaped shakkaparey are fried start working with the jaggery.
Chop the jaggery and mix with water and fennel in a wide and deep kadhai. Cook till the jaggery melts and starts frothing. You have to make *teen taar ki chashni* which means a thick syrup that is ready to crystallise. There is a way to check this stage of the syrup.
In the beginning when you let the jaggery syrup drop from the stirring ladle it drips in one thick stream, later it forms 2 thinner streams and when you cook it further for a few more minutes it starts making three thin streams dripping off the ladle, *teen taar ki chashni*. This is when you have to work quickly.
Pour the syrup over the fried shakkarparey and start mixing them in soft but quick movements. In about a couple of minutes the syrup starts getting dry and each diamond shaped shakkarpara gets separated from each other. Let it cool and then pack in air tight container after the initial round of tasting.
We were four of us to do the tasting round this time. What pleasure when there are more people to enjoy the food being cooked. Festivals are just about cooking and eating together, praying together and welcome the changing season.
*Note : I have practice of making these and other jaggery or sugar coated snacks like this jaggery coated almonds, so I can handle an even and thin coating of jaggery over these. If you are making it for the first time it may not get evenly coated but there is nothing to worry about, just use more jaggery and keep stirring the shakkarparey or nuts being coated till they are all separated from the sticky drying jaggery syrup. The extra jeggery will remain in the pan that can be used to make some other dessert or simple maleeda.