I wish all my readers a very Happy Deepavali!
I have mixed feeling on the eve of Deepavali day. Memories gush in bring in the sweet memories of childhood spun around the Deepavali and what it meant as a child. Every year, almost until after college, the enthusiasm was always there. The crisp new dress and the competition on who fires the first bomb never die down. All our colony friends used to bet that they will be the first person to get ready and lit the bombs.
Thinking of the excitement that used to stem out of it, even now gets me all excited. I was kind of happy that the early morning bug hasn't bit Konda as yet. She was still peacefully asleep when I got up at the dawn. Fireworks started last evening, all those wonderful rockets blustering different colours out there in the clear sky, was a sight to behold. Chinnu was all excited and was cheering for each one that was on display, while Peddu was going deeper and deeper into my arms at each one. Only this morning, he was happy to be seeing them, from a far distance.
Though I am not as excited as it was as a kid, I went about calling all friends and relatives to wish them on this happy occasion. Everybody had a festive tone on the phone, it's really wonderful how infectious this day is to all. A day to spend with loved ones and wishing everybody all happiness, I guess this is the meaning behind the festival of Lights!
Konda was all excited when she got up and got ready in record time, to wear her new dress. I remembered my one Deepavali, when I had got up in the wee hours as early as 3 am, to get ready. In the haste, I slipped and had a full bath much before! How I can still remember the sore bum, but the enthusiasm was all high!
I have shared our Deepavali traditions much in detail in my last year's post. This year, I made sure I learnt how to make Kaja, which is a famous Andhra Sweet. Amma used to make this, along with Athirasams for the Diwali. We skipped making this for the last couple of years, because of its elaborate process. Hubby dear always says, he said yes for the marriage, only after eating the Kesari Bath and Kaja that Amma made for him. He thought being her daughter I would also make both the items well.
Kesari Bath, of course, I made many times. But Kaja, this was my first attempt on myself. Though I have always been the person who finally presses them to shape, I had never kneaded the dough. I got to Amma showed me how to knead and then I continued. It was indeed a lengthy process. Took almost 2 hours for us to complete. I had plans to make Amma's famous Murukus, but after this exercise, I didn't have the stamina. Amma had plans and she prepared them the next day. She made Star Murukkus, Plain ones, and then Mixture.
Though Amma was telling me about Kakinada Kaja, I don't know the difference. I made Kaja and another famous one called the Panasa thonalu because they look like jack fruit bulbs. You can make these with the same dough as Kaja, or you have a separate proportion for that too.
These are sweets made with All purpose Flour, Vanaspathi, and of course Sugar! Once fried, they are normally soaked in sugar syrup. But they tend to be overly sweet. If you don't want so much sweet, you can powder sugar and sprinkle over the fried Kajas.
I actually wanted to record a video, but since I was also making it, managed only the pictures. Hope the slide show explains the process clearly!
Preparation Time: 1 hour and more
Resting Time for the dough - 1 & 1/2 hrs
Makes - 50 pieces
All Purpose flour/ Maida - 500 gms
Vanaspathi Dalda - 100 gms
Cooking Soda a pinch
Sugar - 1 kg
Maida - 1 tbsp for dusting
Gram flour - 2 tbsp for dusting.
Method to prepare:
For the dough:
Shift Soda along with the flour in a wide bowl. Add the dalda and crumble well. Then slowly add water and knead to a pliable dough. It should be of medium softness and not too stiff. Knead till you get that smooth texture on the dough.
Cover the dough with a wet muslin cloth and let it rest for 1 & 1/2 hours, you can allow it for 2 hrs too. Once 2 hrs is done, knead again and divide into equal size balls of the size shown in the picture. You will get about 6 balls of that size.
For the Sugar Syrup
Meanwhile, have the sugar melting over a pan. Remove scrum if any, then bring it to a boil. Cook till you get a consistency of one thread. This you can confirm, by touching the syrup with your thumb and index finger, when you move, you will find one thread forming. Switch off the heat and cover with a lid.
For Making the Kaja
Dust the dough with maida and roll the first ball to a disc of 1" thickness. Remove to a plate. Then roll out the second ball to the same size.
On the second rolled out disc, apply melted dalda and gram flour. Spread evenly all over. Now take the first disc and place it on the second. Press firmly.
Again repeat the brushing with dalda and gram flour on the top. Then starting from the top, fold it inside, as shown in the picture. Do the brushing and dusting. Fold again, repeat, and fold till you reach the end.
Then cut into small pieces of 1 inch size. Then dust them again in maida, press them down on the vertical side, then roll them out to get a long strip as shown in the picture.
Heat a Kadai with oil. Since the dough is mixed with Vanaspathi, it does not drink much oil. Once it's hot, drop in the rolled-out kajas gently and cook in sim. The entire batch has to be fried in the sim, so add enough to cover the oil. Turn to the other side to cook evenly.
Once they are done, drain the kajas and drop them into the sugar syrup. Gently press in so that, it soaks the sugar. Let it soak for 2 mins, then remove and spread for it to cool.
Fry all of them the same way and allow to cool before storing them. These normally stays good for about 7 - 10 days.
Note: Heat the Sugar syrup in between the whole process a couple of times, for it to be absorbed well. If the sugar syrup is not enough, add some more sugar and water, bring to the same consistency before adding the fried Kaja.
While I was still making these, Athamma said Chinnu will like something Savory and made the Salt Diamonds as I call them. She made it almost the same way as I did. When he came back from school, he saw the box of these and went about completing it by evening, anyway it was a small serving.
I feel exhausted typing so much, will be back with the recipe for Panasa thonalu later.
Deepavali is celebrated on Tuesday in Andhra, so we are having two days of celebrations!
Have a lovely day!