Serve up some crackling delicacies

With Diwali around the corner, a Devrani-Jethani team introduces us to some traditional festival dishes served in most Gujarati homes. Here's how you can prepare the remarkably simple yet supremely scrumptious Chorafali and Khajur Pak

The Shah household at Grant Road is a warm space well before the ladies turn on the burners. The senior-most Mr Shah reads his newspaper as he relaxes on a swing by the window, even as the ladies of the household scurry about the kitchen as per usual. "Cooking's always a group activity in Gujarati homes," smiles Chandrika Shah, who is flanked by her sister-in-law, Uma and Uma's daughter-in-law, Manisha. Contrary to the norm, the kitchen here has been extended into the small living area, so a widened counter now serves as the family's dining table, since, as Manisha puts it, "The kitchen is the centre of activity in our household, so we need more space here."

Uma and Chandrika work together to chop a cupful of almonds and cashews into slivers, as Manisha tells us, "A few days before Diwali, we get very busy stocking up on snacks and sweets, as we won't find time for it later on, with the pujas and rituals of Diwali. Also, friends and family drop in more frequently this time of the year, so we need to have snacks ready to offer them."

Forty eight year-old Chandrika is the star of today's show. "She's an expert chef," says Manisha. Originally a resident of Anand, in Gujarat, Chandrika's recipes have an authentic charm to them and she is often called upon to cook large meals for family events and functions. "Gujarati food in Mumbai is quite different," she concedes, as she pulls out the ingredients and wipes the counters clean.
"There are several preparations that take over an hour, but Chorafali and Khajur Pak are the quickest," she says.

>> 250 g of Chorafali atta (it's readily available this time of year, but if you can't find it, you can use a combination of Besan and Urad atta)
>> tsp salt
>> tsp Turmeric powder (Haldi)
>> tsp Baking powder
>> A pinch of Asafoetida (Hing)
>> Oil for frying
>> 2 tablespoons of oil for the dough
>> Black salt and red chilli powder for garnish
>> cup of drinking water

Step 1
Sift the flour. Turn in salt, haldi, hing, baking powder and mix. Add 2 tablespoons of oil and blend till the flour is crumbly. Pour a little water in and start kneading. It's important to form a tight and firm dough, not the sort you prepare for chapatis.

Step 2
Now pound the dough with a mallet till it is flattened. Fold in half and pound again, repeating the process several times for at least eight to 10 minutes. Then, mix the dough and knead it into a ball again.

Step 3
Scoop into eight sections and form a roughly lemon-sized ball with each of these. (Remember to start heating the deep-frying oil by this time.)

Step 4
Flatten each section. Dip into flour and roll into really thin pancakes, stopping intermittently to dip the pancake into flour as need be.

Step 5
Cut the pancake into 1 inch strips and then cut these across to form rectangles.

Step 6
Deep-fry these in hot oil. The rectangles MUST puff up. Remove from oil and place into a colander lined with a paper-towel to absorb excess oil. Then turn into a bowl or container and sprinkle with red chilli powder and black salt. This can be stored for a whole month.

Khajur pak

}500 g deseeded dates (Khajur)
}1 tablespoons of Ghee
}1 cup of chopped almonds and cashews
}250 g of unsweetened Mawa
}1 cup milk

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