Making kadbu is a labour of love. Photo: Saee Koranne Khandekar
Puranpoli is probably the 'dessert' that people commonly associate with Maharashtra. There’s a plethora of other desserts, but we’ll get in to that later. Today, I want to tell you about the Kadbu. Not to be confused with its South Indian namesake, this one looks like a Karanji (Gujiya), but is made of wholewheat flour and more importantly, is stuffed with puran—the chana daal and jaggery filling laced with nutmeg and cardamom that goes into the puran poli also finds its way into this crescent-shaped dessert.
Kadbu is usually made (at least in our homes) on Holi. Most Maharashtrian homes make Puranpoli, and that is possibly the most traditional thing to do. But to tell you frankly, we’re the Maharashtrian family that doesn’t really stick by those rules—we don’t make our own Puranpoli. We outsource the onerous task to experts and then just sit back and enjoy. It’s a great skill—to make a non-maida Puranpoli that is thin yet soft, the filling stretched right to its edges and through the large diameter of the poli, and slow roasted just right to a pink-gold-brown. I’ve decided to make some once a year—it makes me feel strangely like a good mother! I tried last year and they weren’t the best, but mixed with freshly-made ghee and warm milk, you could hardly tell. It’s important, don’t you think, to make some dishes just so they are remembered a little while longer before they die their natural death? That we contribute to the preservation of our culinary legacy by making the effort in our home kitchens?
As a family, we are greatly partial to the Kadbu, though. It is as much a labour of love as the Puranpoli although technically, it is much easier to make. My brother’s most predictable way of getting this made is to say, “What’s Kadbu? I’ve never had it!”
The Kadbu eating ritual is quite special, too. You poke a hole through the stomach of the Kadbu and pour in a ghee-ladle (about 2.5 mililitres) of ghee in it. Fresh, homemade, molten, golden ghee. And then, you take a bite. And then you take another. Breaking through the crust and into the soft earthy goodness of the puran laced with the fragrance of sweet spices nuttiness of good ghee, already seeing a siesta unfold at the horizon.
Recipe for Kadbu
2 cups chana daal (Bengal gram)
2 cups water
2 cups jaggery, chopped into small pieces
½ teaspoon ground green cardamom
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
¼ cup broken cashews (or a mix of cashews, raisins and small bits of
2 cups atta (wholewheat flour; if your atta is too fine, take out 3
tablespoons of it and replace with the same quantity of semolina)
¼ teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee for the dough
Vegetable oil for deep frying
1. Cook the chana daal with the 2 cups of water in a pressure cooker or heavy-bottomed pot until soft and almost all the water is absorbed.
2. Add the jaggery and stir well until melted and homogenous. Add the cardamom and nutmeg and switch off the flame.
3. Pass three-fourths of the daal mixture through a blender to get a coarse paste. Mix with the reserved chana daal mixture and add in the nuts and raisins, if using. Keep aside.
4. Meanwhile, make a stiff dough using the flour (and semolina, if using), salt, 3 tablespoons of oil/ghee and a little water. Cover and keep aside for 15 minutes.
5. Pinch off lemon sized balls of the dough and roll out to small discs, about 4-5 inches in diameter. Place a generous spoonful of the filling in the centre.
6. Fold the disc in half to resemble a half-moon. Press the edges firmly to seal.
7. Trim using a pastry or pizza cutter or crimp as liked. Make sure the edges are well-sealed; you don’t want the filling to leak into the hot oil and make a mess!
8. Deep-fry in medium-hot oil until crisp and a rich golden brown.