March 16, 2022, 4:28 p.m. by Karuwaki Speaks ( 188 views)
With Holi festivities just around the corner,i came across a video with a catchy headline "Holi special Gujjiya making in mega factory in Ghaziabad "!The demand for this particular sweet has increased manifold,leading to commercial interests holding centre stage.But due to artificial flavours & fillings, it's no wonder the packets of gujjiyas already stacked in the shops days ahead of Holi, don't taste that good anymore.While gujjiyas have always been the signature sweet heralding Holi in the north, nowadays they are available across the country & throughout the year in attractive sealed packets.
Yet, the taste is no longer the same when it was lovingly made in every household, with the entire family pooling in to help make the Gujjiya.The sweet filling varied across households & regions but the weaving of the pastry puff "Gothana"by nimble fingers was equally important to produce the perfect Gujjiya.
My mother learnt the art of weaving the puff ridges delicately from her mother & i remember grandma sitting in a chair supervising the entire process but putting in the key ingredients into the karahi at crucial junctures.We children would keep chanting "Nala Nala Bhima Bhima" loudly in the hope of getting a spoonful of the delicious mawa filling.
Nala & Bhima were two important characters from the epic Mahabharata who were expert chefs so invoking their names would transform the Gujjiya making to a higher plane.This sinful delicacy is best eaten piping hot, straight from the karahi. That was a treat i always looked forward to as a child,hovering around in the kitchen,while my mother would fry the gujjiyas under my grandmother's supervision.Both the ladies didn't trust the cooks for this particular work which required patience,expertise & good vibes.
The days running up to Holi were perhaps more exciting as the day of the festival with chivda,mathris,chaklis,aloo papad & chips,laddoos & gujjiyas being made fresh for Holi Milan,which is a get together of friends & families with absolute strangers barging in saying "bura na mano Holi hai".
In fact, the perfect home made good gujiya is just not only about how crisp the outer layering is, or how quickly it puffs up when deep fried, but also how soon it crumbles to help you reach into the sweet filling of khoya melting inside the fried casing of flour with a tinge of cardamom & caramellised sugar flavours, chironji nuts & the sugar syrup trickling down the throat leaving behind a hint of saffron to muse upon.A bit messy undoubtedly & just a happy serving of this delicious sweet can make you work out a lot for sure. 270 - 438 calories is no joke but the Holi mood takes over & we all splurge unabashedly.
In the Indian subcontinent, sweets are called by numerous names, one common name being Mithai or Mitha with thousands of dedicated shops specialising in sweets.Holi is a true festival of colours with feasting, festivities & what truly brings India together on this festive occasion is their appetite for delicious food.A foreigner friend once remarked "Indians eat most of the time & in the remaining time plan for the next meal & talk about food".
Gujjiyas is a signature traditional Holi sweet lovingly prepared across households in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh , Maharashtra, days before Holi and is served to everyone present in the household, during Holi celebrations.Shaped like a crescent moon,Gujiya or Gughara in Gujarat,Pedakiya in Bihar or karanji in Marathi is a sweet deep-fried dumpling which is generally made in Holi.Goans call is Nevri & it's kajjikai in Karnataka.
According to popular belief, the gujiya belongs to the Bundelkhand region and spread across to Brajbhoomi in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. The earliest mention of gujiya dates back to the 13th century, when jaggery-honey mixture was covered with wheat flour and was sun-dried.But the gujiya might have actually originated from Turkey's Baklava, which is also a similar sweet wrapped in fried dough.
Ghotab is a traditional Iranian almond and walnut-filled crescent pastry with a tinge of cardamom & cinnamon which also bears a striking similarity to gujiya.Fusion Gujjiyas are the rage nowadays with widespread interest especially amongst food marketers and the consuming public at large.
The latter's ‘hunger’ for novelty has led to several versions of gujiyas for instance;chocolate gujiyas,Nutella & nut gujjiyas, chocolate brownie,apple cinnamon,oats & dates gujjiyas, sugar free gujiyas,bahubali gujjiyas etc.Cooking was something women always did to nourish and nurture their families so they cooked with creativity,love & abandon.As someone said a recipe has no soul rather the cook brings soul to the recipe.
For me, Gujjiya holds the scent of a memory of bygone days.So give me a plate of home made gujiyas embellished with silver varq, filled with khoya, nuts and raisins, soaked in sugar syrup anyday and my Holi celebration would be blissful.