No matter how hard I try, celebrating Diwali in the US can’t compare to celebrating in India. I make my rangoli and I light my diyas, but the atmosphere is not the same. But if there is one thing that can make Diwali feel like Diwali no matter where I am, it is mawa ghughra.
Ghughra are Indian handpies. You can stuff them with just about anything. I’ve got two other versions on the block already. One is the dry filling kind that is made most similar to these. The other is a baked version if you don’t want to deep fry them.
As much as I like dry ghughra, mawa gughra are my favorite. They are made with similar ingredients, but also include mawa, which is a milk reduction which gives it a rich, moist flavor. These have a shorter shelf-life so should be made fresh either on Diwali or only a day or two before.
In India, during Diwali, people drop in and visit eachother. Often neighbors will stop by for ten or twenty minutes and have a chat. And of course you must welcome anyone who comes to the house with an offer of food. Since people are going house to house, they do not want a meal. So during Diwali, having snacks and sweets around are a must.
Ghughra like these are a perfect tea snack to offer your guest, and are highly customary during Diwali. We would always have a supply of these, along with savory snacks like chevdo and muthiya.
In Gujarat, ghughra are very closely tied to Diwali. You don’t see them often outside of Diwali. But in some communities ghughra are more often seen during Holi. They can be a perfect little treat for any occasion, they are just the right size for munching on one or two. Of course, one or two easily become five or ten if you aren’t careful!
- The dough should be soft, is easily pliable, and workable
- The dough tends to dry out quickly. Have a bowl of water you can dip your fingers into and add drops of water into the dough as you work with it to remoisten it as you work.
- When crimping, make sure the seal is very tight. If you don’t want to crimp by hand, use a fork. If your ghughra opens up while you are frying, use a fine mesh strainer to get the crumbs out before they burn and ruin the oil
- Adjust the spices.
- Saffron is optional.
- Nuts are optional. Use the nuts of your choice. If you don’t want to use nuts at all, use semolina (see other ghughra). You can also add coconut. Pumpkin seeds. The idea is to cut the mawa with something.
Mawa, or khoya, is a milk reduction used in many Indian sweets. There are a few ways to make it. For mawa ghughra, I recommend making this mawa and following the evaporated milk instructions.
Evaporated milk gives the mawa some depth and caramelization that I expect for mawa ghughra.
Mawa Ghughra (Khoya Gujiya)
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 3 Tbsp ghee
- ⅛ tsp salt
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup evaporated milk mawa
- ½ cup nuts of choice chopped and toasted in oven
- ¾ tsp cardamom powder
- ⅔ cup powdered sugar
- Pinch of saffron optional
- ½ tsp nutmeg freshly grated
- 2 cups oil for frying
- Make soft dough and cover with a damp cloth. Let rest 15-30 minutes.
- Toast nuts at 350°F in oven for 7 minutes. Chop coarsely.
- In a bowl, combine all of the filling ingredients.
- Roll the puris out to 4.5 inch circumference. Fill each with 1 heaping tablespoon of filling (or about 1 1/2 tablespoons).
- Deep fry each ghughra. You should be able to do 3-4 at a time in 2 cups of oil at 325°F. Fry the ghughra until golden, carefully stirring the oil to make sure it cook evenly.