Thursday, 31 January 2013

Kaju Katli (Cashew Cakes)

Kaju Kathli became special to us at home after a certain incident involving my little girl.

I was particular about not giving her sweets, lest she develop a bad eating habit and fill up on sweets. Getting her to eat her meals was difficult enough without added distraction. But my father has a sweet tooth and he has the habit of getting a box of sweets from A2B (Adayar Anandha Bhavan) often, under the pretext of going to fill up petrol in the bike, and visiting A2B as it is just next to the petrol bunk. Kaji Kathli and the Dharwar Peda are his favourites from there. So she was slowly introduced to these goodies, much to my chagrin. So to keep everyone happy, we started hiding the sweets from her view.

Once, a family friend who visited us after their son's wedding, gave us a box of Kaju Kathli as a part of some custom where they distribute sweets to those who came for the wedding. Since this happened in her view, we could not hide it from her. She finished the entire box over the next 3-4 days with little help from the rest of us.

Seeing how much she relished this cashew cake, I relaxed the restriction and since then Kaji Kathli and other sweets with loads of nuts (like fruits halwa) etc, were allowed to be given to her.

For Diwali, I decided to make these for her, as it was more than two months and she had not tasted her favourites owing to my dad being out of town for a long time. I followed the recipe from Vardhini's Cook's Joy.

Cashews - 1 1/2 cups - raw whole cashews
Ghee - as needed to grease
Parchment paper - 2 sheets

For the sugar syrup:
Sugar - 1/2 cup
Water - 5 tbsp


Powder the raw cashews into a coarse powder. Sugar syrup:
Heat the water and sugar in a pan. When the sugar dissolves completely, it starts boiling. First the sugar syrup will be sticky when you touch. Then it starts pulling out in a string, without breaking, when you hold a couple of drops between your thumb and index finger. It is called Kambi padham in Tamil. Alternately, start testing the syrup consistency by pouring a few drops in a plate with water. When you push the drops around, it will form thick strands in the water that do not dissolve immediately.

Kaju Katli: Add the powdered cashew to the sugar syrup when it is of the right consistency as tested above. Keep stirring and you will see the mix coming together. Wet your fingers and pinch a small portion of the mixture and see if you can form a ball. If so, turn the stove off. If the dough is not runny and you can gather it with your ladle, transfer the dough to a plate greased with ghee. If the mixture is still watery, stir in the pan for a minute or so. Then transfer it. The dough will look coarse. Grease your hands and knead the dough and you can see it turn soft. Work quickly from here on. The dough will be hot to touch, if you let it cool down before working on it, you will not be able to roll it and shape it. Roll between parchment paper into a sheet with uniform thickness of 1/4 of and inch and slice into diamonds. Kaju Katli is ready to serve.

Verdict: Well, this tastes exactly like the store (A2B) bought one. She devoured these for the next week or so. Do try it out in small batches owing to the quickness with which the dough sets.
priya's signature image at photobucket

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