¼cupcastor sugar, see instructions for alternatives
⅓cupdried apricots, finely chopped
2tablespoonspistachios, roughly chopped, for the topping
For the traditional milk solids filling
½cupkhoya, also known as mawa, grated (see notes)
¼cupcashews and almonds, ground medium
¼cupcastor sugar, see instructions for alternatives
¼cupcranberries and raisins, chopped
for the sugar syrup
Prepare the pastry
Sift together the flour and salt. Add 2 tablespoons of ghee that you have warmed to a liquid state, and rub the mixture together between your fingers to evenly distribute the ghee.
Add water, a little at a time, until the mixture comes together into a firm dough. Use a wooden spoon to stir the water into the flour, then knead for a few minutes, until the dough becomes soft. Cover with a damp cloth, or plastic wrap, and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes.
If necessary, prepare the sugar
It is important to use the right sugar for this recipe. Regular sugar is too coarse and it will be grainy, so you’ll need to source castor sugar, baker’s sugar, or superfine. These are all the same thing. Unfortunately, castor sugar is not readily available in the U.S., and what is available is good, but expensive, especially if you want organic sugar. To work around this problem, process raw sugar in a food processor or blender until fine. You want it somewhere in between regular sugar and powdered sugar.
For the pistachio and apricot filling option
To complete this filling, heat the ghee in a non-stick pan on low heat. Add the cardamom powder to release the aroma. Add the ground pistachios and the castor sugar, and heat for a couple of minutes. Add the apricots and mix and heat thoroughly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
For the milk solids filling option
To complete the filling, heat the khoya/mawa in a non-stick pan on low heat, stirring continuously, for three to four minutes. Add the castor sugar, ground nuts, and cardamom powder, and continue stirring for 1-2 minutes. Add the dried fruit and mix and heat thoroughly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Method for the sugar syrup
Heat the sugar and water in a saucepan, stirring continuously until the sugar dissolves. After it comes to a boil, add the milk. The milk will help any impurities to rise to the surface in the form of scum. Remove this by skimming the syrup with a spoon. Continue to simmer the sugar water until the syrup reaches one-thread consistency, about 25 minutes.
To test for one-thread consistency, remove a bit of syrup with a spoon. Allow it to cool, then touch the syrup with a clean forefinger, and touch your thumb and forefinger together and pull apart gently. One-thread consistency is when a single thread is formed between your fingers, and does not break. You can also test the consistency by letting the syrup drop from a spoon. If it forms a clear drop before falling, you are pretty much there.
Add the rose water, and stir. Keep the syrup simmering on very low heat until needed. If it gets too thick, carefully add more water and cook it out until smooth and the proper consistency again.
Make the chandrakala
Knead the dough for a couple more minutes, and then roll it into a log. Slice into 24 disk-shaped portions. Roll larger portions into a three-inch flat disk. Roll smaller portions into 2 inch disks. Your disks should be quite thin. It is better if they are thinner on the edges and thicker in the middle.
Lay the larger disk on the counter. Place one tablespoon of filling in the centre and cover with the smaller disk. Use your fingers to press and seal the edges of the smaller disk around the filling. Moisten around the outer edge, and pinch and twist the edges in a pattern to seal firmly all around the center. Leave the pastry on the counter as you seal it. This makes the work very easy.
Complete as many pastries as will fit comfortably in your fryer without overcrowding.
Meanwhile, heat sufficient oil (between 2-3 inches) in a small saucepan on medium heat. Use a thermometer to measure when the oil reaches between 350 degrees and 375 degrees.
Gently drop the pastries into the oil and deep-fry until golden brown. Use your spoon to flip the pastries as they fry.
Remove with a slotted spoon and drop into the hot syrup. Soak for 2–3 minutes, turning the sweets over, and using a spoon to drench the sweets with the syrup.
Remove the pastries from the syrup with a slotted spoon. Place the chandrakala on parchment paper, and top immediately with chopped nuts.
Be careful with the hot syrup, as it is extremely hot and sticky, and it could burn badly if it sticks to your fingers. Be mindful of the sugar syrup’s consistency as well. If it gets too thick, carefully add more water and cook it out until smooth, and the proper consistency again. I found that as I went, my syrup darkened into something that started to resemble light corn syrup. That is still fine. It is extra flavor as far as I am concerned.
Prepare your next batch of pastries and repeat steps 1 to 7 until all the chandrakala are made.
The Chandrakala is ready to enjoy when the sugar syrup has fully hardened. You can store chandrakala in a sealed container and keep it in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for a couple months. Gently warm the sweets in a microwave or oven before enjoying them again.
Khoya/mawa is made from concentrated whole milk solids. If you were to make it from from scratch, you would heat whole milk to a boil, and then simmer it for approximately 2 hours, until all the water is evaporated and you are left with only the milk solids.The milk solids can be purchased at an Indian grocery store. I bought a solid block that looks very much like hard cheese. You can also buy a mawa milk powder and reconstitute it with water.These milk solids will be very high in concentrated milk proteins, so those who are sensitive to dairy would probably not enjoy it. This is one of the reasons why I designed a filling without milk solids.For those who love mawa, please go for the traditional recipe. If you don’t think you’ll love mawa, use the new recipe with pistachios and apricots. Either way, it is delicious!Ghee is a form of clarified butter with a nutty, buttery taste, that is commonly used in Indian cooking. Ghee is generally safe for people with lactose intolerance. It has a high smoke point of 485 degrees Fahrenheit and it is shelf stable at room temperature. Ghee is widely available outside India. To learn more about ghee and where to buy it, see Quality Ghee & Ghee Buying Tips.