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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Karanji/Gujia - Indian Epanadas/Turnovers

Karanji is a very popular sweet made during Indian festivals, notably Diwali and Ganesh Chaturthi. It is generally made using the same recipe as modaks. So, whenever my Mom made modaks, she used to make karanji at the same time. The difference between the two is the shape. While modaks are rounded and shaped like dumplings, karanjis are shaped into semi circles. The stuffing is made from coconut. The amount of time that these can be stored is based on whether you are using fresh or dessicated (dry) coconut.  The ones made with fresh coconut have a short shelf life is about a couple of weeks and they are better preserved in the fridge. The dry coconut ones will last for about three to four weeks. They can be stored in the fridge after the initial two to three weeks.

Karanjis are made in all parts of India and are called by different names in different regions like gujia, nevri, and karjikayi. These are quite similar to empanadas, which are also stuffed semi circular pastries. Now, karanjis are generally fried, however this time around, I decided to make baked ones. Also, this time around, my Mom gave me the most wonderful stuffing recipe. The result was crispy, and absolutely delicious. We all thoroughly enjoyed them and I got really great reviews from friends too. So, try this recipe the next time you decide to make karanjis.


For the cover
2 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp oil, warm
1 tsp salt
water, enough to knead dough

For the stuffing
1.5 cups dessicated coconut, grated
0.5 cup khoa/khava/khoya/mava
3/4 cup powdered sugar (adjust to taste)
1 tsp cardamom powder
1/8 tsp nutmeg powder
2 tsp white poppy seeds
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup almond meal (almond powder)
1/4 cup chopped blanched almonds

oil to be used for baking


For the cover
Mix together the flour, salt and oil. Then add a little water at at time and knead this into dough. Cover with a damp cloth and keep aside.  The dough should be soft.

For the stuffing
Dry roast the coconut till it is lightly browned and aromatic. Dry roast the poppy seeds for a couple of minutes and grind into a fine powder. Roast the mava for a few minutes till you get a nice aroma. Cook it till lightly pink and stop just before it starts to brown. Let all the ingredients cool till luke warm to touch. Then crumble the mava into the coconut. Add the sugar, almond, almond powder, nutmeg powder, cardamom powder, powdered poppy seeds and raisins and mix well. Taste the mixture and add more sugar if you want it to be sweeter.

To assemble the karanji
Take a small ball of dough, and roll out a small circle of dough, about 3 inches in diameter. Then add about a tablespoon of filling to the center. Make sure to keep at least a centimeter or so space all around the edge of the dough. Then take a little water and brush it around the entire edge. Then bring one end of the rolled dough over the stuffing, to form a semi circular shape. Press around the edges and pinch the edges together to seal the karanji well.

To bake the karanji
Brush the karanji with some oil on both sides. Pierce the karanji shell from both sides with a little knife or a fork. This will provide a vent so that the karanji doesn't puff up or open up, while baking. Preheat the oven to 405 F. Then bake the karanjis for 5 minutes on one side. Then, turn the karanjis over and bake on the other side for 5-6 minutes. The karanjis will be browned and crisp. Keep these on a cooling rack. When completely cooled down store in an airtight container.

You can also fry the karanji in oil instead of baking it. I bought a mould this year and used it to make karanjis. This made it really easy. I rolled out a large circle of dough and then cut it into smaller circles using the mold. Then I used the mold to form the karanjis. This made the process very streamlined.


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