Madatha Khaja is a very new delicacy to me, comparitively as I grew up in Madras all my life. My encounters with any sweets began and ended at home. Madurai amma always made Boondhi laddoo every Deepavali along with Badam Halwa and sometimes rarely Carrot Halwa. Sometimes a guest who comes home would get us Badushah or Jangiri or Krishna Sweets Mysurpa and we would all relish it. When Sri Krishna sweets opened up their first branch in Chennai , at T.Nagar near my home, I was super excited. I remember we went there and they offered Badam Milk to all their customers for at least a week! It was a totally new concept – to allow sampling! You could point to any sweet you wanted, and they would oblige with a small sample. Imagine my joy! I tasted each and every one of them and of course fell in love with each of their unique tastes. I specially remember being totally amazed with their Mysurpa and its instant rich creamy melt in the mouth taste. Their Badam Halwa is also unique in its flavor and color, tainted with the rich aroma of saffron and slathered with generous portions of clarified butter!
Moving to the US after marriage, allowed me to try out unique dishes from other cultures from my own diverse country. I had friends from Andhra Pradhesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Kerala etc and along with that came insights in to their own tastes and delicacies. My good friend L once made Khaja during Deepavali and I fell for its flavour and its flaky layers soaked in sugar syrup! I had to get more of them I knew. Around the same time I saw that many sweet stores in Chennai also started stocking Khaja. It was amazing! But I knew that I wanted to make my own some day! This version was taught to me by a good friend and I was literally sold. It was flaky, sweet, bite sized and looked very cute! Try it and I am sure you`ll love it!
1 Cup Maida/ APF
1 Tsp Rice Flour.
1 Tsp Besan.
2 Tsp Ghee/ Oil/ Vanaspati.
A pinch of salt.
6 Tsp Ghee.
1 Cup Sugar.
1 Tsp Cardamom Powder.
A few drops rose essence.
1/2 Cup Water.
- A wide bowl works best for making this dough – Add all purpose flour, the 6 tsp ghee, a pinch of salt and using enough water, mix into a smooth dough. This dough must rest and stay moist, so cover with a moist kitchen towel/ napkin. Set aside.
- Prepare the sugar syrup to single string consistency – Add the 1 cup sugar and half the water (1/2 Cup) to a vessel and keep stirring on medium flame. In about 8-10 minutes, you should see that the sugar solution turns slightly syrupy and when you try to drip the solution from the ladle, it forms a string. This is the right consistency. Its imperative that you reach the right consistency for the solution to get syrupy enough to coat the khaja and render it sweet and crystallise over the sweet. This is exactly the same that you would do for the Badushah or Shakkarpara.
- Flavour the syrup with rose essence and cardamom powder as needed.
- Combine 1 Tsp Rice Flour, 1 Tsp Besan and 2 Tsp Ghee to form a paste.
- Divide the rested dough in to three equal parts and roll them all out in to thin rotis.
- Use the rice flour besan paste to coat the maida roti on the bottom. Spread it evenly with your finger or a silicon brush.
- Place the second roti over the first and press uniformly to remove any air bubbles trapped.
- Coat the second roti also with the rice flour ghee paste.
- Place the third roti over the second and firmly press to allow uniform surface.
- Roll the 3 latered roti tightly to form a long log.
- Slice about 1 inch pieces from the log and using the rolling pin, press each roll length wise or breadth wise as needed.
- Fry on medium low heat until the khajas turn golden brown.
- Dunk the fried khajas in the sugar solution for a couple minutes and set on a clean sheet of parchment paper/ wire rack to cool.
- When the khajas cool up, the sugar coating on the top dries up to give it a beautiful sheen!
- Enjoy Madatha Khajas for Sankranti.