With Diwali coming, we are so excited to dig into a recipe for gujiya. Golden brown and exquisitely light, these sweet little dumplings are filled with creamy mawa, sweet cardamom, and chopped pistachios, cashews, coconut, and raisins. If you’re trying gujiya for the first time, they may remind you of baklava. They’re simply delicious, and a wonderful treat if you have guests coming to celebrate the festival of lights.
One of the delightful things about gujiya is that they’re one of the easier pastries a home cook can make — and though there are a lot of steps, they’re very forgiving and un-fiddle-y all the way through.
Let’s start with the mawa, which literally translates to curd. Sometimes you can find it in shops, and there are many, many ways of making it. The long and perhaps more traditional way is to simmer full-fat milk over low heat until all (or most) of its moisture evaporates. What’s left is a rather firm, dough-like disc of very creamy, very rich solid milk that can be crumbled and used for cooking and baking. Here, we use an “instant” or quick-simmering method, which comes together in under 30 minutes.
Gujiya dough is made with ghee and wonderfully easy to work with — it rolls out like a dream, takes to hot oil like a duck, and fries up very crisp and flaky. As the dumpling cooks, the mawa melts into a buttery cream that coats the filling, creating a rich, nutty, fruit-sweet bite that’s irresistible. We love that light touch of coconut and how the cardamom’s vibrant spice suffuses everything.
Like all things fried, gujiya are at their most amazing hot out of the oil. Rather than make them ahead, give your guests a cup of tea and invite them into the kitchen to chat while you fry up the dumplings — they’ll only follow you in there anyway!
Yield: 20 gujiya
To make the mawa: In a small, nonstick skillet, melt ½ tablespoon ghee over medium heat. Add the milk and heat until simmering. Whisk in the milk powder in 3 additions, breaking up the lumps as you go.
Cook, stirring constantly, until the mawa is thick, holds together, and looks a bit like rubber, 6 minutes. Stir in the remaining ghee and cook, folding the mawa, until golden and firm, 6 minutes.
Wrap the mawa in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator until chilled through and hard, 2 hours.
To make the dough: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, a pinch of salt, and the melted ghee, and mix together with your fingers to create mealy crumbs. Add the water, a few tablespoons at a time, while mixing and kneading with your fingers, until a slightly stiff dough forms.
Form the dough into a ball and cover with a damp towel. Let it rest at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes.
To make the filling: In a medium skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the ghee over medium heat. Add the raisins and nuts and fry for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add the coconut and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and golden, 2 minutes. Transfer the raisins, nuts, and coconut to a medium bowl.
Reduce the heat to low and add the grated mawa. Cook, stirring occasionally, until light golden, 5 to 6 minutes.
Transfer the mawa to the bowl with the nuts and let it cool slightly. Stir in the sugar, cardamom, and milk. Cover with a damp towel.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour and water. This paste will be used to seal the gujiyas.
To assemble the gujiyas: divide dough into 20 tablespoon-size balls. To keep the unused dough balls from drying out, cover them with the damp towel as you roll out the balls.
On a flat work surface, roll 1 dough ball into a thin circle just under ⅛” thick. Use your finger to dab the flour paste all around the edges of the dough. Place 1 ½ tablespoons of filling in the center of the dough.
Fold the dough in half and over the filling, pressing out any air, and pinch the edges together with your fingers. Use a paring knife to trim the edge of the dough into a clean semi-circle. Flute the edges with the tines of a fork or twist the sealed edges up and over themselves to make pleats. Cover the gujiya with a damp towel.
Repeat steps 11 and 12 with the remaining dough and filling.
To fry the gujiyas: In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil and remaining 1 ½ cups ghee over medium heat until the oil temperature reaches 325º. Maintain this temperature while frying the gujiya.
Add the gujiya in batches, and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, or until lightly golden on both sides. Transfer the finished pastries to a paper towel-lined sheet pan.
Serve warm. Once cooled, transfer the gujiya to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Recipe adapted from: Cooking with Manali