The festival season is on and I have made “kaju apples” for Janmashtami. Janmashtami is the birth celebration of Lord Krishna. The festival is celebrated with pomp and enthusiasm. Some people choose to feast on traditional food and others observe fast until the birth of Lord Krishna which is at midnight. Temples are decorated for the celebration and are open till midnight. People go to the temple at midnight and the whole atmosphere is vibrant. Special meals, which Lord Krishna was found of, are prepared. People get together and sing and dance and praise Lord Krishna. At some places ras-leela is performed. It is an act which describes Krishna’s life through song and dance. Many places and societies have the Dahi Handi Celebrations where people climb on each other to form a pyramid and the person on top tries to break the earthen pot which is suspended from height by a rope. People shout Govinda ala re ala .The earthern pot is filled with dahi (curd) and makhan (butter). These is Lord Krishna’s favourite food and he used to steal them from the houses with the help of his friends, and so he is also known as Makhan chor. (one who steals butter). The day after Janmashtami is the Parana or Nand Mahotsav where NandBaba gave feast and distributed gifts to the entire community in the honour of birth of Lord Krishna. People recite Nand gher anand bhayo, Jai Kanaiya lal .
Traditional sweets are prepared to offer Lord Krishna. Thor, Monahthal, Panjari, Kopra pak, sweets made from milk, Gopal Kala, Kaju Katli, Laddu, Ghughra, etc. People exchange sweets in the form of prasad with neighbours.
In our house the day after the Janmashtami, that is, Nanda utsav or parana is of great importance. We get up early in the morning and decorate the worship place in the house with flowers, candles, lights. All the ladies in the house get together and perform the puja. We put Lord Krishna in the swing and celebrate his birth by singing bhajans. All ladies in the house will try to make different dishes and sweets and they are offered to the Lord. We all worship together and take Lord’s blessings. Our neighbours also come and worship Krishna. The whole atmosphere is divine.
So today, on this auspicious day, I present you with “Kaju apples“. I make them during festivals and everyone in the house loves them. My niece loves them very much and always wants me to prepare them (and so dear Niece, these are for you 🙂 ).
They are made from powdered cashew nuts cooked in sugar syrup. The cashew mixture is then shaped into an apple and a clove is put on it. They are lightly coloured using red food colour. The process is quite easy does not need much attention. However, you have to be careful when making sugar syrup. If you achieve desired constistency of the sugar syrup you get the perfect end results. Be patient and careful and you will be able to make the apples. Next time, you wont have to purchase them from market.
So enjoy the ‘apples’. You can gift them to your relatives and friends.
Kaju Apple (Cashewnut Apple)
- 1.5 cups cashew nuts The cashewnuts should be fresh and crunchy
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tsp ghee
- 10 saffron strands
- 1 tsp cardamom powder
- few drops red food colour
- paint brush
Chop the cashews into small pieces and grind them into powder in the mixer or grinder.
Sieve the powdered mixture to get fine powder. The finer the powder, the smoother will the apples be.
Heat a heavy bottom pan. Put sugar in it. Add water in it.
Now let the sugar get dissolve. Once the sugar dissolves, let the mixture boil till we get one string consistency (see the next step) of sugar syrup. Add saffron and cardamom powder once the mixture starts boiling.
Check for the one string consistency of the syrup by putting the syrup between the first finger and thumb of the hand. When you press and release the finger it will show a string. That is when the sugar syrup is of one string consistency.
Now reduce the heat and add the cashew nut powder and mix it well.
Stir it on low heat. After 5-7 minutes the mixture will start leaving the sides of the pan and will come in the centre to form a dough. Then add a teaspoon of ghee and mix well.
Now remove the mixture from the heat and place it on butter paper or a dish. Knead the mixture gently with the hands and bring it together to form a dough. Add other teaspoon of ghee to it. This will give a nice glaze to the apples.
Now grease your palms. Take a small ball and roll it till smooth. Press it from the center on the top and give apple shape. Insert the clove in it . Keep aside.
Once all the apples and made, take a paint brush and take very little amount of red food colour in it and apply on the apples. Kaju apples are ready.
Some point to be noted to make the process more easier.
- The cashew nuts should be fresh and crunchy. If not, then you can either keep them in sunlight, roast them lightly or keep them in fridge. I have kept them in the freezer for an hour before grinding them.
- While grinding in the grinder just pulse three to four times. Do not run the grinder continuously otherwise this will remove the oil from cashews and the powder will become sticky and oily. (and we don't want that !)
- If you are making it for the first time try using a non stick pan. It will ensure that the cashew mixture does not stick. That will make the process easier.
- If you find the cashew mixture getting stiff after addition of the sugar syrup, then add a tsp of water and mix it well. It will lower the temperature of the mixture and make it smooth.
- Even while shaping the apples if the mixture becomes dry then just add a drop of water and the mixture will become pliable again.
- It is always difficult to judge the proper sugar consistency when you make it the first time, but do not worry; you will get better with practise.
- Always cook the cashew nut mixture on a low flame.