That rhymes well, doesn't it?
I am already into the spirit of Diwali! Are you? For those who may not be aware of it, Diwali is a major Indian festival. I know it is said to be a Hindu festival but I have seen more enthusiasm from people belonging to other religions over this one! Diwali and Navratri are as catchy as Christmas. Navratri sets the pace for many vibrant festivities in India. Navratri is characterised by yuppies, oldies and conservatives all bonded together by the spirit of 'dandiya' - nine whole nights of dance and music! I guess Dennis puts it best when he says in ''allo, 'allo' - "Now that Halloween (Navratri) has gone, Christmas (Diwali) is all downhill." It is the same with Diwali:). Everyone looks forward to it as it brings with it camaraderie, joy and the thrill of looking forward to the coming of Christmas and the close of the year.
And who doesn't love new clothes? Me? I am quite a clotheshorse - I love window shopping, then shopping actually and then accessorising my clothes! Sometimes I like to go crazy and match a strand or two of my short hair with my dress too - ah!! Diwali really gets to me:D (Navratri is not my thing - I am blessed with two left feet!). I like shopping for my kids and husband but my son hates these trips just like his dad! These days it is usually Jr.H and I who do the rounds of shopping and it takes us doubly longer as Jr.H is as fussy as her mum! I am quite enjoying this phase - it is like being a girl all over again! We go out to get one dress, and then we end up eating stuff that shows up in all the wrong places on my person, buying earrings, bangles and neck pieces for which I have quite a fetish.
The one thing that is common to all festivities be it Navratri, Diwali, Id or Christmas is sweets. I am not much of a sugar person. I prefer savouries any time over sweets though I do have my weaknesses! One such weakness is dryfruit sweets. I can eat anything that is made of almonds, pistachios, pinenuts, walnuts or cashews! The good thing about making sweets from dry fruits is that you can reduce the sugar and still have your sweetness retained. Another thing that is good about them is that you can never go wrong with dry fruits! If the water content increases in your barfi, add a tsp. of ghee, a little sugar and mix it up together to make a tasty halwa. If the sugar syrup gets stiff you will still end up with a tasty sweet powdery almond mixture. All you need to do is add a few saffron threads and use it to make almond milk. Believe me, you cannot go wrong with them!
What if you do not want to go wrong? The trick lies in recognising the consistency of your sugar syrup. What you need to do is keep an eye on your syrup as it boils, take a dip with a spoon every minute, touch a bit of the syrup and try stretching the sticky mixture between your thumb and your index finger. If you get a single thread the syrup is ready. If not, wait just a second more and try again. Every second matters! If the thread is double add just a tsp. of water and try again.
Today I made badam katlis or almond rolled sweets. These are easy to make provided you have the patience to skin the almonds. If you get readily skinned almonds it is my turn to envy you, because where I stay the skinned ones are generally flavoured or salted. The best variety is 'mamra badam' but the others give great results as well. Mamra badam has a very strong flavor but I use this variety only sometimes. If the intention is to distribute the sweets in your neighbourhood as is usually the custom during Diwali it is not a viable option. I go for the more commonly available almonds.
I do not use 'warq' to decorate sweets as I have issues with the making of the silver foil and do not see any beauty or appetizing touch about them. My katli/katris do not contain any added fat in the form of ghee or oil. I guess almonds have enough fat to hold the paste well. The only thing you have to be careful about is handling the katlis as they are not as stiff as barfis and tend to lose shape if handled too often. It is best to pack katlis in a single row, line with butter paper before stacking the next row as they will not stick to one another this way.
The recipe I follow is from a book. I have only tried making it a little easier by giving the tips above. The recipe is perfect in every way and I did not find any reason to add, subtract or substitute any ingredient! However, I have added some tips that I learnt from the mistakes I made.
Dish: Badam katli / Badam katri / Rolled almond sweets
Time taken: 10 to 15 minutes
Warning: advance preparation needed
Yield: About 22-25 nos.
Size of each piece : Diamonds about 3mm thick, each side about 1.5inches.
Suggested serving: 1 piece as it is a rich sweet
2 cups almost fine almond flour - ready or homemade as given below.
How to treat almonds? - Soak 1.5 cups almonds in plain water for 4-5 hrs., skin the almonds and refrigerate without cover for at least 24hrs to let it dry completely. The almonds should not retain moisture if you want a really fine powder and the perfect katli. Grind to a fine powder.
Water - 1/4 cup
Sugar - 1/2 cup level (Imp. - do not heap! and preferably use fine, powdered sugar)
Heat the water in a wok.
Add the sugar and melt it.
Immediately add the powdered almonds and stir well till the powder is incorporated evenly and the mixture starts leaving the sides of the pan. You will find the mixture a little frothy at the sides.
Remove the pan from fire and cool till the dough is comfortable to touch.
Turn over onto a bowl and knead with your hand till smooth.
Keep the dough between two thick polythene sheets and roll into a 3mm thick flat circle or any other shape that forms! Does not matter what it looks like.
Cut into diamonds - big or small, as you like it! Mine are usually 1 to 1.5 inches.
ALMOND KATLI, BADAM KATLI
Gather the scraps and repeat till the dough finishes.
Line a box with butter paper, lay one layer of diamonds followed by a layer of butter paper and follow with another layer of diamonds.
It will remain good till the next day. I do not know about later as it has never lasted that long:D!!
Tips? Just go over the things in bold!
I am getting a gown made for the 13yr. old kid. Anyone got great ideas and links? Do give them to me too. The designer that lay low for the last 37 yrs. in me is rising! Just checked out the Sartorialist and am dumbstruck by the photographs and of course the style - completely freaked out!! Maybe I should go and get that purple colour I have always wanted in my hair!!
All in the name of Diwali, of course:)!
Labels: almond barfi, almond katli, badam katli, badam katri, Diwali sweets, Festival preparation, Indian sweets, Ing. - Almonds, Vegan sweets