Diwali Delights – Baklava
Baklava is one of my most favourite desserts in the whole wide world. No, really. It has the best of all things good. It is sugary, but with the right balance of sweetness. It is stuffed with dried fruits and what not, and is very, very flexible and versatile, in terms of the filling. It has flavour profiles that give you the liberty to explore and yet, just like the layers in the baklava, add to the taste and the delicious and delectable factor of this very humble creation.
I first tasted this beautiful creation, in a tiny, non-pretentious bakery in Istanbul. Back then I didn’t know what it was (yeah, we have all been ignorant about the best things in life, at some point or the other.). But the very gracious and aged bakery owner, insisted I have a baklava to enhance the taste of the black, sugarless and Turkish coffee I was drooling over. Just a tip: always listen to those elder than you, especially when it comes to food. They know what they’re talking about. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. So, I took his advice and took a bite of the divinity that most of us know as the baklava. OH MY GOD! It didn’t just make the coffee taste better, it took my palette into a tizzy! A beautifully layered creation, that made every flavour of every ingredient shine; without it being too overpowering or too subtle. Basically, making every ingredient deserve the respect it does while your palette synchronises like a well conducted opera.
So, when I told you I’d make sure your Diwali was indeed going to be lit up with world flavours; 1.I wasn’t kidding you! And 2. I always keep up to my promises (made when I am in my senses!). So well, here goes; the delicious baklava slightly Indianised, but the essence is primarily Greek. Regardless, shine on all you crazy diamonds, and make this and be the brightest diya this Diwali. It’s simple, it’s delicious and well, a definition to the word delectable!
For Our Baklava Recipe
Makes – 25 pieces
Filo pastry – About 25 sheets
If you don’t get filo pastry, get patti samosa wrappers. Works beautifully. And make sure you have at least 200 gms of salted butter melted, not burnt, melted!
For the filling
Pistachios – 50 gms
Walnuts – 50 gms
Khoya – 200 gms
Granulated sugar – 8 tbsp
Cashews – 50 gms
Dates – 20 gms
Cardamom – 2tbsp (ground)
Note: Because it’s Diwali, let’s just make it a tad bit special. So, the khoya and not bread crumbs! Diwali hai na!
For the Sugar Syrup
Sugar – 3 cups (granulated)
Cloves – 5nos
Lemon zest – 1tbsp
Water – 2 cups
Lemon juice – 3tbsp
- First, we’ll get the baking dish all buttered up okay? So, before you put any of the pastry on the baking dish, make sure you grease it well. I like to use parchment paper, but if you don’t have that, just make sure, you grease the baking dish with a thick coat of butter.
- Now, let’s make the filling. Roast all the dried fruits.
- Then crumble the khoya, add the sugar, and the cut dates. Mix uniformly.
- Now, take the dry fruit filling and pulse it for about 45 seconds at 2 second intervals. The pieces should be biteable. Not a powder.
- Mix it with the khoya mixture with the dry fruit mix, with nimble finger and set aside.
- First, on a buttered pan, lay down 1 layer of the filo.
- Then, brush butter on the first layer, and lay a second layer over it. Repeat this process for 8 consecutive layers therefore.
- Once all 10 layers are formed, spread the dry fruit mixture, in a uniform manner.
- Then cover the filling layer with another layer of filo. Now repeating the same brushed filo method for 4 times in a row.
- Again, add a nice thick layer of the filling, and repeat the 4 layer filo process.
- Now, add about 10 layers of the filo pastry. Basically, you need 3 layers of the filling, with 3 layers of the filo in between.
- To shape the baklava, make diamond shaped cuts through the layers, making sure you get right from the top to the bottom of the pan, because, once baked, cutting it will be a nightmare.
- Now bake this at a 120 degree Celsius for 40 minutes. Please do remember to pre-heat your oven.
Making the sugar syrup
- Again super simple. In a thick bottomed pan, add the sugar, water, cloves, lemon juice and lemon zest.
- Let it come to a boil, stirring constantly. Remember, we don’t need a caramel, we need sugar syrup. So make sure you don’t burn the sugar.
Putting it all together
- Once the baklava is baked and the sugar syrup is made, now comes bliss!
- Add the sugar syrup evenly all over the baked baklava. And let it rest and come to room temperature. Done. Garnish with rose petals and serve royally!
- Always, always, always make sure the oven is pre-heated, and the baking dish is buttered with an extra dollop of butter. Trust me, always works.
- Don’t heat the khoya. Crumble and mix it. It will anyway melt once baked, and coat the pastry base.
- It’s okay if the sugar (that you mixed into the khoya), has a bite. Gives it a nice texture. So don’t stress.
Most of all, make these wonderful recipes, get the compliments and invest your time in looking pretty, instead of slogging it out in the kitchen. So, thank me later, but, for now, cook away!