Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New year, a blog birthday and some catch up - celebrating with delicious Kaju Katli (cashew burfi)

Happy New Year everybody!! May the year 2018 bring unprecedented peace, harmony, health, love and joy in everyone's lives. May this be a purposeful and productive year that brings each of you closer to your dreams and goals. 

New Year's eve also marks the birthday of my dear little blog that completes 6 years of existence and steps into the 7th year. I started writing this blog, sitting alone on a chilly winter afternoon as 2011 drew to a close, and never once thought I would continue the journey for 6 long years. 2011 was strange for many reasons, we had relocated yet again, I was continuing to work full time but from home which made it difficult at times as I am not a long term wfh person, DD had started high school in a brand new city, trying to make brand new friends while missing all her old friends, BH was at once excited to be working for a dream come true employer and nervous about the changes. And all three of us had left behind yet another place we called home, lot of friends that had become family and had to start growing roots again. It was a lot individually and together. There were certainly times when BH & I looked at each other overwhelmed and asked if we had done the right thing with this move.
Looking back, we are happy in our no-longer new home, have had many blessings in these 6+ years and many things to be proud of, my little blog being one of them. I blogged so many recipes that are close to heart, wrote about why they were special and the memories that were imprinted, made friends in the blogosphere, got to know some incredible people both as humans and chefs in this virtual world, got my ego nurtured by occasional, tiny, little recognition, shared my love for all things food with family, friends and strangers, tried my hands at various electronic forums to share my food pictures, talked more openly about my personal life than I have ever done anywhere in my life, went away MIA for both short and long stretches of time for various reasons. Blogging gives me a distinct pleasure of being creative that is hard to compete with. 2017 saw the lowest number of blog posts in the 6 years of the blog existence but I wrote every piece from the heart and when my heart and pen didn't feel harmonized, I just took a break.
Some of the posts were written when I felt as if I was under a boulder of pain that I would never be able to claw myself out of, while some were written when I was literally giddy with joy and contentment. But everyone of them was about a memory that I would give anything to hold on to for as long as I can. I am grateful I found this media to stretch my precious memories. A big thanks to all of you for riding on this journey with me. Many of you have been part of it since the beginning and I am grateful to all of you. There is a lot more recipes in Sattvaa kitchen and I hope to continue blogging about them. Thanks for all the comments, queries, interest in my recipes, support and gentle nudge to come back, I am starting the new year with a new recipe.
Back to blogging, I take responsibility for all the breaks I took last year. For many reasons, some beyond my control I couldn't find it in me to sit and write a blog post or share a recipe with you all. My blog absence doesn't however mean that I have not been cooking or eating :-). Been doing some experimental cooking as fancy takes me (more about that in upcoming blog posts) and then falling back to the comfort foods too. Also, trying to drill the idea of cooking in small quantities into my brain but have not been really successful with that lesson yet :-).

If you have reached up to this point on this post, I am sure you have not failed to notice the prominently displayed photo prop :-). It is the very thoughtful, love filled gift I received from my little girl. What can I say? I am a proud mommy. Along with it came a shiny new electronic gadget from BH for personal use (big part of the personal use being blogging), so I have no more excuses to mask my lazyness but to show up for the show, right? Also, I simply love these two in my life to the moon and back for everything they do.
So, what should we start 2018 with? A sweet perhaps? A sweet it is and an extremely popular one. I had (still have) a load of dry fruits including almonds, cashews and other rich nuts, courtesy of dear friends who came home over the last month, so it was an easy choice to make this Indian sweet. It has remained one of DD's top favorites for a long time. This is one of the sweets/desserts you will find distributed widely by the Indian community for all festivals and happy occasions given its long shelf life. It is also one of the common sweets to bring back from home on an India trip for colleagues and friends as it is easy to transport and passes security screening without any mess :-). Yes, I am talking about Kaju Katli or Cashew nut burfi, has just enough sweetness so it doesn't make your tongue all sticky like some of the syrupy Indian desserts, it is nutty in taste but not overwhelmingly so, with a texture of pillowy softness and is faintly chewy.
Kaju Katlis are always served with a layer of silver vork (also called silver paper or varak) on top and I skipped it in my home made version as I am not a fan of them. The thought of eating a non bio degradable metal in my dessert is not entirely appealing to me. If you like it and want to reproduce the exact look of the store bought katlis, go ahead and purchase some varak for your katlis.
What do you need to make Kaju Katli? 
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup +1 tsp water
1/2 Tsp melted ghee

How do you make kaju katli? 
  • Take cashews in the dry jar of your mixie and make as fine a powder of it as you can without turning it into a wet mass. Nuts ooze oil when ground and cashews are no exception, take care to run the grinder in pulse mode first to break down the nuts. 
  • Sieve the powdered cashews to get a finer textured powder, any remaining big particles can be returned for a second grind and the sieving process repeated until you get a cup measure of the powder. 
  • Add sugar & water into a heavy bottom pan and on low-medium heat start stirring to make a syrup of one thread consistency. 
  • Once the syrup reaches single thread consistency, add the cashew powder and stir it quickly into a lump. 
  • Keep the heat on low, add ghee to the pan and mix it all in a couple of times. 
  • The cashew lump will start to leave the sides of the pan. Try rolling a small piece of the lump between your fingers, if it forms a smooth ball without sticking to your fingers you are ready to move to the next step. 
  • For the quantities given here, it takes 2-3 minutes from the time you add the cashew powder to getting them off the stove. 
  • Put the cooked cashew lump into a wide plate and spread it a little, wait for a few minutes for it to cool down enough to the touch. 
  • Once you can handle the dough, start to knead it. You will notice that the dough is grainy when you take it out but starts to become softer and smoother as you knead. 
  • Knead for 3-4 mins, make it into a ball and place it between two sheets of wax paper and roll into a thin chapati from the top of the sheet with the help of a rolling pin. 
  • The thickness depends on your individual preference, I rolled it pretty thin as we like it that way. 
  • Take the top sheet off, using a knife cut into pieces of desired size and shape. 
  • I normally cut out narrow strips from the edges and remove those for scrap eating before cutting the rest of it into beautiful, uniform pieces :-)

  • Store in airtight containers and enjoy, refrigeration extends the shelf life. It will stay good for a week outside and longer if refrigerated.
  • I always store my nuts in the freezer compartment to extend its shelf life, if you do the same make sure you take them out for thawing for atleast 6-8 hours. I left mine on the counter top the previous night. NEVER grind frozen cashews unless you are looking to make a paste of it :-)
  • Any remaining broken/thick particle cashews can be stored and used in multiple Indian gravies for a richer & creamier taste. 
  • Keeping the heat on low to medium is essential during the syrup making process as otherwise sugar tends to become candy. 
  • Use good quality cashews for best taste. 
  • Add a pinch of cardamom powder to the syrup if you like the flavor.


shashi said...

Happy new year and congratulations on the 7th birthday of your blog. As you mentioned, the blog has opened channels in more than one way. It has given us an insight into your life, your experiences and your thoughts and feelings. There is a story behind every recipe and your blog goes over it in a relishing detail. Its not just the recipe that makes the food enjoyable. Its the ambiance and the mood when you taste the food that makes the recipe a keeper. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog and trying out your recipes and look forward to many more.
Love to DD and regards to BH.

Nagashree Ravi said...

Thanks so much Shashi!!