Meethi Khajali / Khaja

I was told about this flaky pastry biscuit by a friend from whom this brought back childhood memories. I thought it must indeed be very special and I started to hunt for the recipe  online.

Some of these recipes have been handed down generation to generation in families without it being documented. It took a really wild goose chase to find a recipe that was authentic enough to try. I finally found something, that I think is close to the real thing. 

This amazing snack can be made both sweet and savory. Today I’m sharing the sweet version of it. 

I hope you enjoy making and eating this simple snack. I can now see why this melt in the mouth biscuit holds a special place for some in their heart. 

Ingredients 

3 cups of plain flour (maida)

1/2 cup of clarified butter (ghee)

Pinch of salt

3 pinches of baking powder 

Half cup water to kneed dough

A little flour for dusting 

20 pistachios, blanched, skin removed and chopped up coarsely 

Vegetable oil for deep frying 

For the flaky layers

2 tablespoons of cornflour / custard powder

1 tablespoon ghee 

Mix the above two to form a slurry 

For the syrup

1 & 1/2 cup refined white sugar

3/4th cup water 

1 green cardamom pod, deseeded 

5-6 threads of saffron 

Method

In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Then make a small well in the center and add the clarified butter (ghee). Gently mix these ingredients together with your hands rubbing the butter into the flour till it has a breadcrumb like consistency. Do not overwork the flour in doing so. 

Next add water little by little and kneed gently bringing it all together to form a ball of flaky but solid dough. Set this dough aside for 20-30 minutes, covering it with a damp kitchen towel. 

Now to make the sugar syrup. Bring the sugar and water to a boil on a slow flame. When the sugar dissolves completely and forms a two thread consistency add the cardamom seeds and the saffron threads to it. Set it aside to cool a little. If it starts to set, reheat it with a couple of teaspoons of water. 

After 20 minutes to half an hour take the dough and gently kneed it. Divide the dough into equal golf ball sized pieces. 

Dust a smooth flat surface with a little plain flour and start rolling the dough balls with a rolling pin into thin tortillas (chappatis). 

When you have 5 such tortillas, pile them one on top of the other after coating the layers in between with the cornstarch slurry made earlier. It’s a bit like making puff pastry as home. The thinner the layers the flakier the biscuits will be. 

Now gently pat down the edges of the layers and start rolling it inwards to form a roll. Much like you would for a pin-wheel sandwich. 

Once you’ve got a tightly rolled log, cut it into 1/2 inch equal pieces. You should get about 10-12 from one log. Now form these into smaller balls holding the loose edges down and light pat them with your hand to form round biscuits. They should be about 5 cm in thickness.  Poke them a little with a fork so that they cook evenly through.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed vessel. The oil should be on medium heat and the gas should always be on a slow flame. If the oil is too hot the biscuits will remain uncooked in the centre. 

Drop 4-5 biscuits in the oil at a time. They will initially sink to the bottom and then rise to the surface as they cook. The biscuits have to be lightly browned. It should take about 10-12 mins per batch of 5-6 biscuits to be done. You’ll be able to see the layers emerge as concentric circles on the biscuit surface. This a slow and tedious process, but we’ll worth the effort. 

This is what it should look like. 


Let these biscuits cool down completely. Once cooled drop one at a time into the warm sugar syrup and then place it on a wire rack to cool. While the syrup is still sticky on the biscuit garnish with chopped pistachios. You may also add dried rose petals or slivered almonds to the garnish. 

Once dried completely, enjoy this with a cup of piping hot masala chai! 

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