Kaju Pista Rolls (Indian Cashew and Pistachio Sweets)
Kaju pista rolls are Indian sweets that are very similar to marzipan. It's almost like edible Play-Doh. Kaju and pista respectfully means cashew nuts and pistachio in Hindi. I guess there is a similarity with French, we called cashews, noix de cajou. I'm just thinking out loud.
Anyways, these cylinderical shaped mithai (Hindi for sweets) look very playful and are absolutely delicious. I find many Indian desserts too sweet for my palate, but these treats are just perfect. I can never eat just one, and if you make this recipe, you won't be able to either.
Yields: 1 dozen2 cups cashew nuts, unsalted
1 cup pistachio kernels, unsalted, unshelled
1 1/2 cup whole milk, + 1 Tbs for the saffron
3 drops green food coloring
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar, or more to taste
1 1/2 Tbs light corn syrup
3 Tbs ghee, or homemade clarified butter
2 cardamom pods, unshelled
2 drops cardamom extract, optional
1/4 tsp saffron threads, for decoration, optional
Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods. Gather all the seeds in a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
In 2 different bowls. Soak the cashew nuts and pistachio kernels in warm water. Let the nuts sit in a warm area for about 2-3 hours. During this period of time, change the water about 3 to 4 times with new warm water. Drain the nuts separately and set aside in 2 other bowls.
Coat 2 silicone baking mats with a thin layer of ghee. Set aside.
Reserve 1 cup of milk for the drained cashews and 1/2 cup of milk for the drained pistachios.
For the cashew nut barfi: Blend the cashews first into a fine paste. If the cashews don't blend easily, add as little milk as possible (from the 1 cup previously mentionned) to get it to blend.
In a medium nonstick saucepan, add a tablespoon of corn syrup, 3/4 cup of powdered sugar and the rest of milk (meant for the cashews). Bring to a boil, then lower the heat of the stove immediately to a medium low. The liquid should be syrup-y. Add the cashew paste. Stir the paste constantly to prevent the mixture from burning. Cook the cashew paste for about 6 to 9 minutes. The mixture should be much thicker and form a single solid mass. It will still be very soft and pliable. Add 1/2 of the amount of cardamom powder, a drop of cardamom extract and 2 teapoons of ghee. Mix well. Transfer to one of the 2 ghee-greased silicone baking mats. Let the paste cool a bit (about 15-20 minutes) while you're making the same procedure with the pistachios.
For the pistachio barfi: Blend the pistachios into a fine paste. If the pistachios don't blend easily, add as little milk as possible (from the 1/2 cup previously mentionned).
In a small nonstick saucepan, add 1/2 tablespoon of corn syrup, the rest of the powdered sugar and the rest of milk (meant for the pistachios). Bring to a boil, then lower the heat of the stove immediately to a medium low. Add the pistachio paste. Stir the paste constantly to prevent the mixture from burning. Cook the pistachio paste for about 6 to 9 minutes. The mixture should be much thicker and form a single solid mass. It will still be very soft and pliable. Add the remaining cardamom powder, a drop of cardamom extract, food coloring and 1 teaspoon of ghee. Mix well. Transfer to the other ghee-greased silicone baking mats. Let the paste cool a bit (about 15 minutes)
Assembly: Divide the cashew paste into 2 or 3 balls. Cover the cashew paste with another mat or plastic wrap, then roll the cashew paste with a rolling pin to about a 1/8-inch thick layer and cut the layer into 4-inch wide rectangles. Cover the paste with a humid cloth to prevent the paste from drying.
Divide the pistachio paste into 2 or 3 balls as well. Create 2 or 3 1/4-inch diameter cylinders. Cover the cylinders with a humid cloth to prevent the paste from drying.
Insert a pistachio cylinder into each cashew rectangle. Roll the dough tightly so that the cashew paste completely wraps the pistachio filling entirely. Repeat with other balls of nut paste. Cut the rolls into 1-inch cylinder using a paring knife.
Place the saffron in a mortar and pestle. Grind the saffron into a powder. Add a tablespoon of milk. Decorate each kaju pista roll with a dot of saffron liquid using a Q-tip cotton swab.
You can store them in rectangular-shaped airtight-container then refrigerate them for a week.
Arrange them layer by layer, between waxed paper if you're afraid they stick to each other. Serve with hot tea.
Kaju pista roll can also be sticky-rice-ball shaped as well. Just make sure a little amount of pistachio marzipan is peeking out at the top of the mount.
You can also create 3 layers (with the pistachio layer in the middle), then cut into diamond shapes.
If the green food coloring is too intense, either lower the amount to 3 drops or add a drop of yellow food coloring.
The addition of the cardamom extract is optional. I get from my Indian local market. It's called Elaichi in Hindi, so you might want to search for Elaichi extract. It's very convenient and brings that little oomph to your drinks and desserts like Masala Chai, Sharbat or Kheer.
Per David Lebovitz's advice, to make a smoother more spreadable product, add a tablespoon of light corn syrup to the sugar for the marshmallow frosting. I made the same application to my homemade caramel sauce and my marshmallow banana frosting.
You can also decorate the kaju pista rolls with a little silver foil as well. Just press a little silver piece of foil using a toothpick. I didn't have any on hand though. You can find silver leaves or gold leaves for decoration in fine specialty stores or in Indian stores, it's called Varak.
You can mix-match any kind of nuts like almond, walnut or hazelnut with your own flavoring like mango extract, rose water, kewra water, orange blossom water or even finish by dipping the rolls in chocolate or by coating them with coconut flakes. Be creative!
Published By: on April 24, 2009.