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The Art and Science of 'Ghevar' - Rajasthan's Traditional Sweet Delicacy

Author:

Chef Susheel Joshi Chef Instructor Culinary Academy Of India

India has an extraordinarily diverse food culture – be it sweet or savoury. And sweets are integral to any and every celebration in the country. From birthdays to festivals, sweets help bring out the essence of celebrations in any region. There’s also another thing to keep in mind about desserts, this being, traditional recipes are complex in terms of technique and require a lot of practice to get right. This means that the ‘Halwai’ who makes the dish the correct way, is treated as a master craftsperson who spend years working on their skills.

Though there are many easy to make desserts, traditional ones require a lot more skill. Ghevar, is one such dish. But before we get into the details of this traditional recipe, let’s know a bit about this mouth-watering dessert.

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Now is a great time to point out that Ghevar is not just a simple dessert picked up from the local Halwai at a bargained price, but one of international culinary prominence. In fact, it is one of only conventional Indian dishes that looks at culinary molecular gastronomy and tries to build on its scientific principles. This was highlighted by Chef Gaggan Anand, a Michelin-star chef serving progressive Indian cuisine who used a ‘Savoury Cheese Ghevar’ in his 15-course tasting menu. This process involves pumping the Ghevar batter using a siphon gun, frying it and topping it with grated cheddar.

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Originally from Rajasthan, and made using common ingredients like flour, ghee, sugar, water and at times, milk, Ghevar is popular among other Indian states as well like Haryana, Delhi, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh – each of whom have their own take on this dessert. This dish is primarily made during Teej or Raksha Bandhan. If you’re wondering why it’s made during this time, then the answer is sure to leave you puzzled. Ayurveda. Yes, you read it right, ayurveda. Teej usually falls between July-August when the seasons change which can make humans irritable, restless and eat less. The highly sweet Ghevar, alongside Rabadi provide relieve from acidity and help the mood during this weather change. After all, who doesn’t feel nice after eating deliciously rich dessert?

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Coming to the process, the ingredients are basic which means it all boils down to how well you can get that honeycomb-net like structure with a proper hole in the centre. Ghevar batter is a mixture of cold ghee, water/milk, and refined flour. As a quick trick, you can cream the butter with some ice cubes until it becomes creamy, light and fluffy. This method results in an emulsified batter. The runny batter is then poured into the hot ghee 7-10 inches above the ghee surface. The high moisture ratio in the batter helps in creating the honeycomb like structure as the water evaporates leaving the flour based body with air pockets. As the batter continues to fry, the discs attain a golden brown colour which make this recipe look even more appetizing.

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This may sound like a cakewalk, however, it is anything but. And so far, we’ve only made the traditional disc base … so how do we make this extra mouth-watering? Pretty simple really. Stack the Ghevar discs on top of each other and pour thick sugar syrup all over it. Traditionally cardamom flavoured sugar syrup is poured, but a lot of modern variations are available in stores today. Talking about variations there are many different yet traditional versions of the Ghevar like Mawa Ghevar or Malai Ghevar, where the base and the sugar syrup remains the same but a topping either made with malai or khoya is added. To add more visual appeal, ingredients like saffron, dry fruits and edible silver warq/leaf are commonly used.

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Today, Ghevar is tremendously popular across stores as more Halwai’s commercialise the dish. This shift has made culinarians create, innovate and play with the flavours and the presentation style. From a bite-sized Ghevar to a thalli size Ghevar with unique flavours like rose, berry, mango or custard. In fact, even savoury ghevar is something people are willing to try

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Sounds interesting right!

Well, what’re you waiting for, Rakshabhandan is round the corner so try your hand in making this exceptional dessert at home for your family!

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