Kaju Badam Katli (Cashew Almond Thins)
I've been meaning to try out Katli for a while now. What could be a more ideal occasion than Diwali, the awesome festival of lights and sweets?! It's also a nice way for me to celebrate my comeback to the blogging world after a long, three month break! My parents visited us for a couple of months and we had great fun visiting a lot of places, though my work kept me on my toes. Coming back to the Katli, it turned out really, really good, much better than I expected! Happy Diwali to everyone!


Ingredients (makes about 20 pieces):

cashewnuts - 1 cup
almond powder - 1 cup (or, 1 cup almonds, dry roasted and powdered)
sugar - 1 cup
water - 1/4 cup
ghee - 1 tbsp
milk - 2 tbsp
yellow food color - a pinch
saffron strands - a few

Method:

Dry-grind the cashewnuts to a fine powder. Also dry-grind almond if necessary and keep aside. (I prefer the to use store-bought almond powder, to avoid the hassles with the skin)

Soak saffron strands in milk and add the yellow food color to it. Mix well and set aside.

Take sugar in a saucepan or heavy-bottomed vessel. Add water and bring to a boil. When it reaches one-string consistency, add the cashew powder and almond powder. Now, add saffron-soaked milk and ghee. Stir well to get a soft mixture. If it is too hard, add a little more milk (one teaspoon at a time). Mix well and stir. When it reaches a mouldable consistency, allow to cool. When it is cool enough to handle with bare hands (but still warm), knead it like a dough. Grease hands with a little ghee if required, to prevent flaking. Make a soft ball and roll out to a thin layer on a flat surface (I use the back of my baking tray) with a rolling pin (1/8 to 1/4 inch thickness). Decorate with silver varak if you like. (Personally, I'm no fan of the silver varak). Cut into diamond-shaped pieces (by horizontal slicing followed by oblique slicing). Indulge your sweet tooth any time!

Notes:
1. The same recipe can also be used to make just kaju katli or badam katli - by substituting the nuts / nut powders accordingly.
2. The powders have to be as smooth as possible.
3. The dough must be brought to a malleable consistency before turning off the stove.
4. While kneading and rolling out, the dough must still be slightly warm.
5. If it becomes too dry, warm it with a little more milk, stirring constantly.
6. If it becomes too wet and sticky, microwave for a couple of minutes before kneading.
Special Ribbon Pakoda
My mother-in-law makes awesome Ribbon Pakoda - so it happens to be one of the family favorites. So, whenever I make this crunchy snack, the expectations are really high. Thankfully, her special recipe works for me too!


Ingredients:

rice flour - 4 cup
gram flour - 1 cup
red chilly flakes/powder - 3 tsp
salt - 2 tsp
light butter - 5 tbsp
turmeric powder - a pinch
pakoda masala - 1 tsp

Method:

Make a dough by mixing the rice flour, gram flour, salt, butter, turmeric powder, pakoda masala and red chillies. Add more water slowly, as required (about 1.5 to 2 cups), and prepare a soft but firm dough. Press the dough through a ribbon pakoda mould and deep fry in hot oil until golden brown. Allow to cool to room temperature and store in airtight container.

Notes:
If the dough is too soft, it will not flow thorugh the press without breaking up. If the dough is too hard, it will have difficulty flowing through the press. Consistency of the dough is the key factor.
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