Haven’t heard of Lobongo Lotikas? The Bengali-style dessert popular in the north and north-east regions of India?
It is a sweetened khoya-filled flaky pastry, folded into a square envelope and sealed with a clove. Then the little pocket is deep-fried in ghee and steeped in a saffron-infused sugar syrup.
The filling can be made at home. But if you are pressed for time, Bethica Das suggests you use a store-bought peda or khoya sweet and mash it up and pop it inside the the lotika.
Work ahead of time and make the delicacy in advance and store in airtight containers, so you have something to chew on when those sweet pangs attack.
Bethica chooses her recipes and the dishes she would like to showcase based on the feedback she receives from her family and her readers.
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- 2 cups maida or all-purpose flour
- 1 cup khoya or milk solids
- 1 cup fresh coconut, grated
- ¼ tsp green elaichi or cardamom powder
- 1 tsp laung or cloves
- 1½ cups sugar
- 3 cups water
- 2 tbsp sliced nuts and raisins
- ¼ tsp jaiphal or nutmeg powder
- Pinch kesar or saffron
- Ghee for deep frying + 3-4 tbsps extra
- Heat, in a saucepan over medium heat, the khoya, coconut and 3 tbsp of the sugar.
Warm till well blended and add the nuts, raisins, cardamom, nutmeg.
- Knead a stiff dough from the flour, water and 3-4 tbsp ghee.
- In a non-stick saucepan, add the remaining sugar, saffron, water.
Keep stirring over low heat till the sugar dissolves and a one-thread syrup is formed (please see the note below) and then take off heat.
- Side by side, while the syrup is boiling and almost ready, make 10 equal portions of the dough and also the khoya mixture.
Roll out the dough into a 3-inch diameter small circles.
Put about a tsp of khoya in the centre of each circle, and fold it over to form a rectangular shape, like a parcel.
Seal with cloves.
- Heat ghee in a heavy-bottomed kadhai and fry the Lobongo Lotikas till golden in colour.
Drain and then dip into the sugar syrup for a couple of minutes.
Drain onto a plate or thali and serve warm or cold.
Editor’s Note: A one-thread syrup is sugar syrup viscous enough to pass the one-thread test.
It is important to keep testing for consistency while the sugar syrup is boiling.
The test for this is: Dip a spatula, preferably wooden, into the boiling sugar syrup and take out.
Some syrup would have coated the spatula.
Let it cool.
Touch the cooled syrup with your forefinger. Some syrup will come onto your finger.
Touch that with your thumb and separate thumb from forefinger.
When one little continuous delicate thread is formed by the syrup, when the coated forefinger is pulled away from your thumb, you have one-thread consistency sugar syrup.
For slightly less sugary Lobongo Lotikas, ditch the sugar syrup. Instead when the lotikas come out of the ghee, drain onto a paper towel-lined plate and sprinkle icing sugar on top of them or grated jaggery.
For vegan lotikas, stuff the lotikas with only coconut and a little extra nuts and raisins. Use oil in the recipe instead of ghee.
For gluten-free Lobongo Lotikas, make use of oat flour instead of maida.
Bethica Das is a Sharjah-based food blogger.
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