Trinidad is blessed to have a culture that embraces the festivals of different religions and every year I look forward to Divali, the Hindu festival of lights. If I lived abroad I think this is one of the holidays that I would miss like crazy.
Divali would be incomplete without the many offerings of Indian sweets that make their appearance at this time. Kurma, a traditional, Trinidadian sweet is basically a fried dough that is coated in a sugar glaze. There are two varieties. A thin, crisp variety which is sold in shops all year round. Then there is the version pictured above which seems to be more popular around Divali. This kurma is thicker with a crunchy exterior but with a soft fluffy interior. It is made with a sweeter dough than the thin kurma. It would be interesting to find out how this snack got its name because although it is Indian in origin the word kurma in India refers to a creamy curry.
Most recipes for kurma yield impossibly large amounts. Too much for a single family. This is because when one makes kurma it is usually for commercial purposes or to give away to friends and neighbours at Divali time. I seriously had to scale back the recipe that I found. The original called for 5lbs of flour! Feel free to scale it back again by half if you don't plan on sharing with friends.
Yeild approx 48 Kurma
10 cups flour
2 cups butter
4 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground elychee (cardamom)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup condensed milk
1 1/2 cups water (+ or - as needed to for dough)
Vegetable oil for frying
For Phaag (Syrup)
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups sugar
Cut butter into small cubes and rub into flour until it looks like bread crumbs.
* You can use a pastry cutter for this or if you wish blitz it with your food processor in two batches. Put 5 cups of flour and 1 cup butter in food processor. Give it a whir then process the second batch. This is not a pastry dough that you can mess up with over processing. No stress promise.
Mix in the grated ginger, elychee and cinnamon
Add the condensed milk, evaporated milk, and water. Combine everything to make a soft dough.
Let rest 5-10 mins
Divide dough into two balls
Heat enough oil for deep frying kurma in a pot over high heat.
Roll out dough about 1/2 " thick
Cut into strips about 1/2' wide.
Roll each strip until rounded.
Cut rounded strips into finger length or slightly shorter lengths.
Fry on low heat until golden brown.
Drain on brown or absorbent paper and place in a large bowl that can take heat.
Boil water and sugar until it forms a syrup that is just about to crystallize.
Pour all over kurma. Get someone to hold the bowl steady so you can turn the kurma briskly so that it does not stick. Turn kurma until the sugar crystallizes.
The most difficult thing for me in making this was the frying. If the flame is too high the outside will cook but the insides remain as raw dough. It took a couple tries to get it going. Bring the oil up to high heat, then turn down to a low heat before putting the kurma to fry. Frying the kurma takes a bit of patience which if you know anything about me from following this blog, I do not have. I am am an impatient cook. So, in order to ensure that the kurmas cooked through, I took a bamboo skewer and poked holes in them while they were frying. Perfect results.