Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Chirote / Khaja, a layered sweet delight

Chirote is a sweet snack made in Maharashtra for Diwali that looks like a not completely pressed dry flower. This is sweet is layered and looks like a rosette with the layers opening after it is fried. The chirote also known as khaja, chiroti or pakwan, features in the cuisine of different states like Oriya, Karnataka and a few others. I read about chirote a few years ago and although it seemed like a great tasting sweet, I had my doubts about being able to get it right. Last evening, I did give it a try and it did not seem difficult at all, just that it requires a little patience.
Just like the lights and lamps, snacks, both sweet and savory are intrinsic to the celebration of Diwali. As children, during the run up to Diwali, all the apartments in the whole building buzzed like a beehive. We saw a lot of cleaning at all homes, new torans / bandhan dwars were put up, and a few days prior to Diwali rangolis were drawn, diyas were lit at entrances, etc. Along with all this, the women managed to make yummy delights as well. Typically, the afternoons, when most of the ladies managed to take some time out from chores, were earmarked for making goodies. Yummy aromas from all around wafted in from the windows at that time and sometimes we could guess which aunty was making what goodie. The aunties took pride in cooking up a range of sweet and savory snacks and each aunty was known for at least one delicacy. Like Aunty S was known to make the tedious and time consuming wheat halwa at home. Aunty A made yummy besan ladoo that her daughter also learnt to make later. Aunty L made ribbon pakodas that were soft and crisp at the same time. The best Maharashtrian chakli was made by Aunty K along with a melt in the mouth burfi. I remember having some spicy chivda as well but cannot remember who made it. On the day of Diwali, we children would take plateful of goodies to the other apartments and would return with some of their goodies. Tea time meant having a choice of the yummiest of snack spread at home.

For many years I could not be bothered with making any of these snacks but then I guess with age comes nostalgia and I started preparing a few delicacies at home. And now, I like to try at least one different snack each time and the Chirote is one such attempt . I followed Madhura's recipe for Chirote because the addition of rawa / semolina gives it a little crunch and this worked well for me.
Oil for deep frying
for the chirote
Maida / All purpose flour - 1 cup
Rawa / Semolina - 1/4 cup
Water - 1/4 cup
Oil - 2 tbsp
for applying between layers
Ghee / Butter - 2 tbsp
Rice flour - 2 tbsp
for the syrup
Sugar - 3/4 cup
Water - 1/2 cup
Saffron - few strands
Lightly powder the rawa / semolina in a dry grinder. Mix together the maida / flour and the rawa in a bowl. Heat the oil and add it spoon by spoon into the flour, mixing it with a spoon all the while. Then wait for a few minutes for the oil to cool a little. Using your fingers rub the oil into the flour mixture till it resembles bread crumbs. Then add the water little by little and make a soft smooth dough. Divide the dough into six equal balls and keep it in a bowl and cover with a lid or cling film.

The ghee / butter should be in room temperature and not hard when using. In a bowl add the ghee and the rice floor and mix well. Keep this aside.

Take a rolling pin and using a clean surface, roll out each ball into a thin round chapati and keep separately. Place one thin chapati on a flat surface. Spoon a little of the ghee and rice flour mix and dot it all over the chapati. Spread it so it covers the entire chapati. Cover this chapati with another one and spread the ghee and rice flour mix like before. Place the third chapati on top on it and apply the ghee and rice flour mix like before. Now, starting from one edge, raise this edge a little and start rolling it inward into a tight log like in a pinwheel roll. Take a sharp knife and cut the two ends of the log. Hold the log with one hand and cut the log into half inch to 1 inch pieces, keeping the knife in a slight slant direction so the layers are visible. With the rolling pin flatten these pieces by rolling it out lightly. When rolled the pieces will be an oblong rectangle.

In a sauce pan, add the sugar and water and heat till a simple syrup is made. Add the saffron strands or saffron syrup and take off the heat.
Heat the oil in a kadai or pan and slowly fry the rolled out pieces one by one, gently pressing down the pieces. As it fries the layers will separate, scoop out when done and drain off on paper towels. When the oil is drained completely add the pieces one by one into the saffron infused sugar syrup and dip all sides to coat completely. Then lift off with tongs and stand it in a bowl to drain excess syrup. Continue frying all the pieces and dipping in the sugar syrup. Once the syrup is drained serve on a platter.

Caster sugar - 1 bowl
Once the pieces are fried and drained off on the paper towels, drop one piece at a time into the bowl and coat all sides with the sugar. Spread it on a platter and its ready to serve.
Sugar syrup coated chirote

This recipe for Chirote / Khaja is going to these events :
-  "Diwali Special" hosted by gayathriscookspot.
-  "Diwali Bash 2013" hosted by cooksjoy.
-  "Diwali Delicacies Event" jointly hosted by priyaeasyntastyrecipes & spicytreats
"Spotlight: Festival Treats" hosted by cuisinedelights

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