I have been asking my friend Nilima to pen down all her special recipes. I hope she heeds my request one of these days. North Indian, Gujarati, South Indian, Mexican, American, Italian… you name any cuisine and she will dish out a wonderful meal. Today I was lucky to get a container full of  Mohanthal, a traditional Gujarati sweet typically made during festivals and weddings. I have eaten many different types of Mohanthal but one made with Besan and Khoya tastes the best.

I asked for the recipe and she quickly obliged.  So, here it goes.  Thanks Nilima for the delicious Mohanthal.

Nilima’s Mohanthal
4 cups gram flour/besan
1 1/2 cups ghee + 4 tbsps ghee
1/3 cup milk
1 cup mava/khoya (if shop bought, then grate it )
3 cups sugar
1 tablespoon, coarsely grounded cardamom seeds
1/4 tsp or to taste saffron (crushed)
1/2 tsp. nutmeg pwdr
2-3 tbsps. finely sliced almonds
1. Add 4 tbsps. of melted ghee to flour and mix nicely with a fork.
2. Add in the milk, mix thoroughly using a fork.
3. Sieve this mixture through a large holed sieve. The largers grains which are sieved through help to give the mohanthal a lovely grainy texture.
4. Heat the remaining ghee in a pan and stir in the flour. Keep stirring and cooking the mixture until the flour looks golden brown, about 25 minutes.  Please take your time with cooking the mixture – rushing it will burn the flour and give the mohanthal a dark colour and bitter taste.
5. While the besan mix is roasting, mix 1 1/4 cups water and saffron in the sugar and heat this mixture gently until it forms a syrup. The syrup should be of one-thread consistency . To check this – take a drop of the syrup and rub it between your thumb and first finger. When you separate the thumb and finger, the syrup should be thick enough to form a thin string.
6. Once the besan has roasted properly add khoya, cardamons, nutmeg and cook till the mixture turns smooth and khoya turns a nice brown color, about 5-10 minutes.
7. Once the besan/khoya mix is roasted, take it off the heat and add syrup gradually to the cooked besan/khoya mix and keep on stirring till the mixture turns thick, about 10 minutes.
8. When the mixture is thickened like cake batter, pour the mixture in a well greased 9 X 11 inch rectangular pan and level the surface using a flat spoon. Sprinkle the sliced nuts to decorate the mohanthal.
9. Let this cool down.   This could take several hours so leave it in a cool place. Then cut the mohanthal into small square shapes and store in air-tight container.
Nilima said an easier version of Mohanthal can be found on this link


I made Ghughara (called Karagadabu in Kannada and Gujiya in Hindi) for Ganesh Chaturthi. The cute, pot-bellied God Ganesh loves them and so does everyone else. Gugharas are a deep fried pastry with a sweet filling consisting of coconut, sugar and nuts. Crispy on the outside and soft, sweet filling on the inside. YUM!

Ghugharas take a long time (and patience) to make. The preparation for filling takes some time but the frying part takes the longest. They need to be fried on very low flame and each batch will take about 12-15 minutes.



For the dough:

2 cups maida/all purpose flour

4 table spoon melted ghee

a pinch of salt

¼ cup water

For the filling:

1 cup dry coconut powder

1 cup powdered sugar (I used my mixie to make it into a fine powder)

½ cup raisins and ½ cup cashew pieces shallow-fried for about 3 minutes

¼ tea spoon saffron/kesar

½ tea spoon powdered cardammom/elaichi

1 table spoon roasted khus-khus/poppy seeds

3 cups oil for frying

First, prepare the dough by rubbing ghee in the flour for about a minute. Add no more than ¼ cup of water to make a stiff dough. Knead it for about 3 minutes, after which you will see that it has become softer. Cover it with a wet cloth.

Next, mix all the filling ingredients.

Now knead the dough again for 2-3 minutes. Pull a golf-ball size dough (may be even smaller than that) and roll into a thin, 5 inch puri. You can use a round cookie cutter to get perfect rounds. Neatly put 1 table spoon of filling on the one half of the puri. Dip finger in a water bowl and run the finger along the edge of the puri. Fold the puri in half and seal the edge properly. You can twist/fold the edges further to create a nice design.

Deep fry 6-8 ghugharas in oil for about 12-15 minutes.