Diwali Recipe: Mohanthal
For as long as I can remember, Diwali celebrations have been taken very seriously in my Gujarati family. Diwali is not just the festival of lights; it is the biggest and most important holiday for Hindus. The festival symbolizes the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance. This holiday also marks the beginning of a new year for us, and families often make homemade sweets to celebrate with their loved ones. My family, like every other Indian family, loves to go overboard and makes a variety of sweets every year. However, mohanthal is one sweet that has always been a staple in our Diwali celebrations. Ever since I can remember, my grandma has always made it during Diwali, and it has remained a constant favorite of mine and my dad’s. Mohanthal is a gram flour-based traditional Gujarati sweet that is often flavored with a variety of saffron and nuts. This sweet always reminds me of the chaotic but exciting days leading up to Diwali where my family works together to bring our annual celebration to life.
This recipe will have a preparation time of about 35 minutes and a cooking time of about 25 minutes. This recipe will make about 40 pieces of mohanthal.
For the flour mixture
2 cups of besan
3 tbsp of ghee
3 tbsp of milk
For roasting the flour
1 cup of melted ghee
2 tsp of milk
1 ¼ cups of sugar
¼ tsp of cardamom powder
¼ tsp of saffron strands
½ tsp of ghee for greasing
1 tbsp of pistachio slivers for garnishing
1 tbsp of almond slivers for garnishing
To prepare the flour and saffron mixture:
In a small bowl, combine the saffron strands and ½ tsp of warm water in a bowl. Mix well and set it aside to use later.
Take a large bowl and combine the 2 cups of gram flour, 3 tbsp of melted ghee, and 3 tbsp of milk.
Use your hands (don’t be afraid!) and mix the flour mixture well. Use your fingertips to ensure there are lumps in this mixture. According to my grandma, this is a very important step to make sure that the sweet has a smooth texture but a grainy bite.
Gently press the mixture into the bowl and even it out. Cover the bowl with a lid and let it rest for 30 minutes.
30 minutes later...
Now, heat a wide but deep pan on the stove at high heat and add 1 cup of ghee.
Give the ghee a minute to melt in the pan and then add the flour mixture to the pan.
Bring the heat down to low, this is very important to ensure that we do not burn the flour mixture. Gram flour can burn very easily so it is important to be present in the moment while you are cooking and pay very close attention to the smell of the flour.
Stir the flour mixture continuously as it cooks and wait until the color of the mixture turns to a beautiful brown color.
Once the mixture turns a brown color, turn off the heat and set it aside to cool down for 15 minutes.
Take a non-stick pan and turn the heat on high. Add 1 ¼ cup of sugar and 1 cup of water into the pan and mix well.
Cook the water and sugar mixture on high heat while stirring constantly for 2 minutes.
Now, lower the heat to low and when the mixture boils, add 2 tsp of milk and mix well.
Keep cooking the mixture while stirring constantly for 10 to 11 minutes.
Turn the heat off once the sugar syrup has a thread consistency. To check for the consistency, get a butter knife and try putting it in the syrup and hold up the knife. If the mixture can form thin threads, then the syrup is ready to go.
Time to assemble!
Add the sugar syrup to the cooled flour mixture and then add the cardamom powder, saffron-water mixture, and the prepared sugar syrup.
Mix the ingredients well by continuously stirring the mixture for 3 to 4 minutes and then add the remaining 3 tbsp of milk and mix well.
Now, grease a pan with ghee to cool the sweets in and add the mixture into the pan and even it out.
Sprinkle the pistachio and almonds on top of the mohanthal and set it aside to cool for 1 to 2 hours.
Once cooled, cut the mohanthal into equal-sized pieces and store them in an airtight container.
This sweet has always been dear to my heart ever since I was a child, and it is something I have bonded with my grandma over. I hope that when you make this sweet, you feel the same excitement and adoration I have felt over the years from my family when we get together for Diwali.