Badam Puri, Almond Pastry in Cardamom Syrup:

It’s difficult to describe in words why some things feel so good. Some colours, some perfumes and some foods simply cheer us up instantly, as if all the anxieties, problems and fatigue of the present moment vanish and we are transported to an other world in a blink of an eye! Badam Puri has this kind of hold over my heart.

Sugar Stuffed Paratha ,Mustard Green with Corn bread ,mint chutney and badam Puri are some such foods that connect me to my Punjabi roots, remind me of my daddi (grandmother) and take me to a safe and cosy place back in time. I remember waking up to the very enticing aroma of cardamom, almonds and ghee (clarified butter) that always meant we were going to have badam Puri for breakfast.

Badam Puri is a deep fried pastry made with flour, rice flour and ground almonds which is then soaked in cardamom flavoured sugar syrup. It sounds like a very heavy and sweet dessert but you shall be pleasantly surprised to bite into it because it just melts in the mouth. It’s a crispy, flaky, soft, sweet and syrupy warmth that embraces you immediately and tastes like happiness.

Most recipes suggest soaking the fried pastry for many minutes into the sugar syrup. I think that makes the pastry too soggy and too sweet for my taste. I only dip the puris briefly for a few seconds to drench them in sugar syrup and remove them to the serving plate to retain some of the crispiness in texture and to control the sweetness.

I also make my sugar syrup quite light so that the almond and cardamom flavours can shine more prominently. If you like your desserts sweeter, make the syrup with 1 part water and 1 part sugar, and soak the puris longer. The cloves are used to keep the folded layers in their place through frying and soaking in syrup but they also add another flavour and fragrance dimension to the puris.

Badam Puri can be served with Masala Chai or your choice of hot beverage for breakfast, as a teatime snack for any special occasion or a very quick and easy dessert to finish off a delicious meal. The pastries and syrup can be made ahead and refrigerated. Warm the syrup and fry badam Puri right before you need to serve them in minutes.

1/2 cup plain flour
1/4 cup rice flour
1/4 cup almonds
4 green cardamoms
a pinch salt
Few drops almond essence
2 tablespoons butter or ghee,melted
1/3 cup milk
6 cloves
Oil for deep frying
1+1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar

This Is What You Do:
Grind almonds and two green cardamoms in an electric grinder till they are like fine powder.

Add plain flour, rice flour, pinch salt, ground almonds and cardamoms to a deep dish or mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Add ghee or butter. Mix with your fingers to make crumbs like texture. Add almond essence.

Gradually add milk to knead the dough. If the dough is too hard, add a tablespoon or two more of milk. Dough should be firm enough to roll out easily.

Cover the dough with a plastic wrap or cotton towel and refrigerate while you prepare the sugar syrup.

Heat water, sugar and the remaining two green cardamoms in a small sauce pan. Cook on medium heat till the liquid is reduced to half and slightly thickened. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Divide the dough into 6 equal portions. Make tiny dough balls with them.

Flour a work top. Roll out the dough balls into thin flat rounds, slightly bigger than the palm of your hand.

Fold each round into half and then again to make a triangular shape. Secure the layers with a clove inserted in the centre.

Heat oil in a wok or frying pan for deep frying on medium heat. Check if the oil is ready by throwing in a tiny piece of dough, it should come to the surface immediately.

Fry one or two badaam pooris at a time till they fluff up slightly and turn golden and crisp. It happens pretty quickly so do stay alert.

Take them out of the oil and immediately immerse in the sugar syrup for a few seconds. Remove from sugar syrup and place on the serving plate.

Garnish with crushed almonds and pour the remaining warm sugar syrup over them.

Serve warm with tea for breakfast or as dessert.

Serves 6

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