Ghughra (Happy Diwali!)

November 11, 2010

What could have possibly kept me away from my blog for this amount of time??  Well, celebrating Diwali in India, of course!  (well, that, and some pretty unreliable internet).

Growing up, Diwali never carried much significance in our household.  I would be fascinated by my parents’ stories of celebrating the new year in India with fireworks, and huge amounts of sweets and snacks, and hearing about the customs and traditions.  But celebrating Diwali in such a grand way in this part of the world seemed so far-fetched.  I wanted to relive the stories that my parents told me.  So…naturally…I went to India.

Diwali is the festival of LIGHTS!  It’s the new year!  It is supposed to be festive and colorful and loud and happy!  So this year, I got all of that, and more, by celebrating in India with my extended family.  Besides doing several designs of rangoli, and shooting bigger fire crackers than I would ever imagine for the 4th of July, we made many treats!  My favorite being the almond and cardamom scented pastry called ghughra.  The one that we made uses a traditional ingredient called mawa, which is difficult to find in the States.  I’ve included a recipe that uses a more readily available dried fruits – though equally delicious.

I’m not going to fool you about this one: it’s a tough recipe.  Just look at my attempt at the folded pastry below (mine’s the one on the right, if you can’t tell).  My grandmother shot me looks of disapproval as I tried to help with this process.  But it doesn’t matter!  Just make sure you seal the pastries completely, and I guarantee that the taste will outdo the look.

Moving from one food holiday to another, I’m now back at home preparing my list of Thanksgiving recipes, but until then, Happy New Year!

Ghughra (recipe adapted from here)
Ingredients for the stuffing

  • 1/2 cup dry coconut
  • 1 cup of coarsely ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped figs
  • 1/4 cup of finely chopped dates
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom

Ingredients for the outer crust

  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup ghee, clarified butter, or butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons of water

For dough: Combine the flour, ghee and salt in a bowl.  Work the ghee into the flour with your fingers until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Sprinkle water onto the crumbly dough and with your hands push the dough from the sides to the middle of the bowl to form a ball that holds together. Be careful to add only little water at a time, and not allowing the dough to become soggy.  Knead well with our hands until the dough becomes into a firm ball of dough.  Put aside, covered, ensuring that the dough does not dry out.

For stuffing: Combine all the ingredients for the stuffing until all the ingredients hold together. Divide the stuffing mixture into 20 equal portions.

To assemble: Divide the dough into 20 equal portions as well.  Roll out each portion into a 3 inch diameter circle.  Place a portion of the stuffing in the bottom half of the circle.  Fold the disc over into a half-moon shape and seal the edges, ensuring that the stuffing has not seeped out.  Twist the sealed edge, from one end to the other, for a fluted edge.

Repeat with the remaining dough and stuffing portions.

Fry ghughras in batches of 4-5 for about 4 minutes, flipping mid way.  The ghughras should be golden brown in color.


13 Responses to “Ghughra (Happy Diwali!)”

  1. Amy Says:

    Hi Pooja –Welcome Home! Just a quick note because this recipe looks awesome and hanukkah is coming up…the JEWISH “Festival of Lights”!

    I think I’ll have to try this.
    Rendezvous soon —

  2. Eliza Says:

    Awesome post, Pooja–thanks!!!

    Your photos btw are always amazing. Can I ask you a question, though: what are coarsely powered almonds and where do you think I can find them?


    • pbavishi Says:

      Hi Eliza! Powdered almonds are just plain whole almonds that are ground. I ground mine in a coffee grinder; the food processor also works. Just measure after grinding the almonds. And if all else fails, you can buy almond meal, or almond flour at the grocery store, which is the same thing and will work just as well.

  3. Amy Says:

    Pooja — Do you think there is a way to do this without deep-frying?? I know that’s the traditional way…I just can’t bring myself to do it! baking or sauteeing, perhaps? If not, I may bite the bullet and “go there” anyway.


  4. marlowe Says:

    I love the comparison between your folded pastry and your grandma’s. It makes me feel better about my own attempts at pastry folding.

  5. […] up, we always used to celebrate Hanukkah.  Just over a month after Diwali festivities had dwindled, we would play with the dreidel, light imaginary candles on the imaginary menorah (we […]

  6. Mina Says:

    Thank you – I’m trying to find a recipe that closely resembles what my late mum in law made and I’m pretty sure she used rava/semolina in her filling. Is this something you have come across at all or am I mistaken? Your help is appreciated xxx may you and yours have a blessed Diwali xxx

  7. […]  It used to be a Diwali staple, but it’s a sweet so simple that it has been overtaken by fancier, trendier desserts that are just as delicious, but not what I was looking for this year.  And […]

  8. […] Refrigerate liquid until thoroughly chilled.  With the leftover almonds, you can add it to oatmeal or baked goods.  Or you can dry it by spreading it on to a baking sheet and baking it at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours until it is  completely dry.  Then you have yourself some almonds flour!  And you already know what you can make with that. […]

  9. […] Want more Diwali ideas?  Here are some that have been posted before! […]

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