Karanji is an must have faral item on the Maharashtrian Diwali faral platter. Two types of karanji are made. One is with fresh coconut and the other is with dry coconut flakes. The one made for Diwali is with dry coconut flakes. Traditionally the karnaji is deep fried but I baked it as I have done with all the faral recipes I made this year.
The karanji 'pari' or shell is crunchy but not hard. The stuffing is made of dry coconut, roasted poppy seeds, roasted semolina (rawa) and powdered sugar. Generally dry coconut flakes are used but I used shredded dry coconut and I believe that helped to keep the filling well distributed throughout the karanji. My daughter could not resist having one while it was still warm.
As a child I remember coming home from school to find fresh made karanjis. My mother always made them with the help of the maid while we were out of the house. I can understand why. Then as a teenager I remember helping my mother with karanjis. I always got very tired of the amount of time it took to deep fry them but on the whole we enjoyed ourselves. I remember being very strict about how many could be eaten before Diwali. With all the effort I would put in I would be pretty mad if they were all gone before Diwali and we had to make them again. Now I don't really care, in a way I am happy if everyone wants to eat them. Time passes and our roles change.
It is tradition to make at least one modak when making karanji, one puri when making shankarpale and one kadbola when making chakli. You see, just like Spanish, the Marathi language classifies everything as masculine or feminine. So at least one feminine piece is made with the masculine faral and vice versa. Karanji is feminine and hence the masculine modak. I will let you draw your own inference as for the reason behind the tradition.
You will need (makes 15 karanjis and 2 modaks)
For the shell
1 cup rawa (semolina)
1 cup all purpose flour
3 tbsp. melted warm ghee or clarified butter
~ 1/3 cup lukewarm milk or as needed
For the filling
1 cup shredded dry coconut
2 tbsp. poppy seeds
1 tsp. ghee
1/4 cup rawa (semolina)
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
1 pod cardamom, shelled and seeds crushed
1/4 cup milk for sealing the karanji and brushing
To make the shell, combine the semolina and all purpose flour in a bowl. Rub in the melted ghee. Using a little milk at a time form a ball of dough. Do not make the dough too soft. Reserve the remaining milk. Cover the dough and keep aside for an hour.
Meanwhile make the filling. Roast the shredded coconut taking care to ensure it down not brown. Take it off heat and place in a mining bowl. Next roast the poppy seeds in the same pan. Keep aside to cool when done. Next melt the ghee in the same pan and roast the semolina in it. Again, ensure it is well roasted without turning brown. Take it off heat and add it to the roasted coconut. Grind the roasted and cooled poppy seeds to a powder. Add them to the coconut along with the powdered sugar and cardamom powder. Mix it well and keep aside until needed.
After an hour break the dough into pieces and run it through the food processor. If it is too dry add a tablespoon of milk and run it again. It should be soft and pliable. If not add another tablespoon of milk and run it through again. Transfer the softened dough to the mixing bowl and knead a little. Cover with a moistened tea towel.
Preheat the oven to 375 F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour a little
Break away a portion of dough the size of a large marble. Keep the rest of the dough covered. Knead the small portion of dough in the palm of your hand and place it on a work surface.
Using a rolling pin roll the dough to form a thin round disc.
Place the filling in the center. Moisten the perimeter with milk.
Fold the dough over to form a half moon shaped dumpling. Press it down with your fingers to seal.
Using a special decorative cutter cut the edges off. If you don't have a cutter use the tines of a fork to form a decorative edge.
Remove the discarded dough and place it separately from the rest of the dough under the tea towel. Place the prepared karanji on the baking sheet. Keep it covered and work with the rest of the dough. When the sheet is full brush the karanji with the milk and bake for 28-32 minutes or until brown. Flip them over once after 15-17 minutes. If you have sealed the edges right the karanji will puff up and stay that way.
Transfer to a cooling rack. Store in an airtight container when completely cooled.
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