Of all the nut based mithais kaju katli is perhaps the rage. The best is made of a delicate mixture of coarsely ground cashew nut powder and powdered sugar. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But then how does the flavour come through so greatly? Some more in depth research gave the info that the cashew nuts should be of topmost quality as also the grinding of it be done in short bursts of the grinder so that the heat generated does not harm the flavours which will begin to emanate once the cashew nuts undergo the grind. As it is an oily nut and almost never sold in the shell, which contains an unpleasant blistering oil. The nuts are roasted and shelled before distribution. It was also a revelation to discover how cashew-nuts grow. In a most peculiar fashion. The nut, enclosed in a hard kidney-shaped shell, is suspended beneath a pear-shaped fruit, the cashew apple. Botanically it is not a fruit at all, but the swollen stem of the nut.
Kaju katli, per se, is dull in colour, the upper layer prettied up with silver warq, shaped like diamonds and more important, as thin as one eighth of an inch. Looks don’t count really as its popularity is unquestionable. The fragrant orange coloured Kesar Kaju Katli (flavoured generously with saffron), the rich crunchy Anjeer Kaju Katli (dried figs add their special touch), the inviting rosy Gulab Kaju Katli (topped with a thin layer of Gulkand) and the regal emerald coloured Kaju Pista Roll (the excellence of pistachios make them richer) are the other versions available. Quick Kaju Barfi is worth a look. Perfect kaju katli should look uniform – both in shape and thickness – and taste of fresh cashew nuts and remain tasteful for days. The idea of investing in this mithai is to have something sweet on hand that maintains its flavour and texture without refrigeration. In fact, kaju katli will lose its excellent flavour and malleability if refrigerated. Some qualities of kaju katli deserve mention as they have more proportion of sugar, or an added enhancement of ground peanuts, or melon seeds, but this is not what we are looking for. The best bite of kaju katli would be of one which tastes distinctly of cashewnuts, is not overpoweringly sweet and most importantly is moist and firm and yet melts in the mouth. While cooking the mixture of cashewnut powder and powdered sugar (in the right proportion where the former should be more than the latter) there is a magical point at which the mixture should be whisked away from heat. Then the final product would be that which is moist and firm yet melts in the mouth! There are some who do use cashewnut paste instead of powder but cashewnut powder definitely gives better flavor. When you read the recipe given below you will realise that kaju katli is very easy to make. Not only that, one can get more quantity for a lesser price!
Cook1 1/5 cups (240 gms) sugar and 2/3 cup (160 ml + 1 tbsp) water together till it begins to boil. Cook for three to four minutes or till the syrup reaches 118°C and you get multi strings. Then add 2 tbsps. (40 gms) liquid glucose and stir well. Remove from heat and add 2 cups (400 gms) powdered cashewnuts stirring continuously. If necessary add one tablespoon of water and keep stirring till the temperature comes down to 65°C. Knead lightly to make a soft dough. Roll out on a flat greased surface to one centimeter thickness. Rub a butter paper over the surface to smoothen it evenly. Apply silver warq and cut into diamond shapes.
Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.