Holi hai: Going ga-ga for gujiyas!

ByAbigail Banerji
Mar 07, 2023 05:55 PM IST

Holi celebrations are incomplete without biting into a sumptious gujiya. Here, we look at the various types of this sweet treat that are found in different parts of the country.

Gughara, pedakiya, karanji, kajjikayalu, somas or karjikayi – these sweet and crunchy goodness are known by many names around the country. Stuffed full with delicious filling, intrinsically pleated and deep fried, a gujiya is a mandatory mithai at every Holi party. It can be both savoury and sweet, however, the latter is more popular during the festivals.

Holi hai: Going ga-ga for gujiyas!
Holi hai: Going ga-ga for gujiyas!

It is interesting to note that while gujiyas have originated in India, there are versions of it all around the world. Turnovers comes from France while piroshkis are eaten in Russia and the Balkans. In Latin America and in the sourthern parts of Europe, empanadas are popular. Handpies are eaten in England and their origin can be traced back to the 19th-century. Fruits like apples, pears and berries, chocolate, and caramel are some of the most popular fillings.

Gujiyas are a mandatory mithai at every Holi party.
Gujiyas are a mandatory mithai at every Holi party.

In India, green peas, corn, cheese and paneer are used to make savoury gujiyas. On the other hand, the most common stuffing to make these sweet treats are mawa, dry fruits and nuts.

It is said that the gujiya in its current form was popularised in the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh. It travelled to Rajasthan and is closely related to the pedakiya in Bihar. In Gujarat, it is called ghughra while it is known as karanji in Maharashtra, nevris in Goa. In the south, Karchikais are made in karnataka, while the tamilians’ version is called Somas and Kajjikayalus are eaten in Andhra Pradesh. The dough is made from maida, sooji and ghee. The base of the filling is made with dry and fresh coconuts and can have poppy and sesame seeds mixed in, too.

The most traditional way to make a gujiya is with mawa filling says Sahil Narvekar, brand chef, Taftoon Bar & Kitchen, BKC and Powai. The sweetened khoya (evaporated milk solid) is added to a mixture of coconut, cardamom and dry fruits. Adding, he says, “Regional varieties exist based on the flour used to make the dough and the choice of the stuffing.”

Gaurav Verma, co-founder, Saundha, Mumbai say, “Pedakiya from Bihar is famous during Holi, Diwali and Teej as it stays in perfect condition for a longer time. It is the preferred gifting option during Holi visits to families and friends.”

In Bihar, the main difference among the different varieties across regions is the stuffing. Semolina (sooji/rawa) is used instead of mawa. Verma adds, “The simplicity of this dish lies in the fact that the only spice used is cardamom powder in the filling.”

In Gujarat, they are called ghughras while it is known as karanji in Maharashtra and nevris in Goa (Shutterstock)
In Gujarat, they are called ghughras while it is known as karanji in Maharashtra and nevris in Goa (Shutterstock)

Sooji is also used to make the Goan nevris that is made during Christmas and Ganesh Chaturthi, but can be eaten year round. However, the more popular variant includes dry coconut that has been sweetened with jaggery or sugar.

Girish Nayak, chief mithaiwala, Bombay Sweet Shop says, “It is almost impossible to imagine Holi without karanjis in Maharashtra. This flaky, fried, Maharashtrian delicacy has a sweet filling. To amp up the richness, you can add pistachio, almonds, cashew, chironji, cardamom and saffron along with the coconut, jaggery and khoya. They are sealed, fried in ghee and coated with sugar.”

The most eye catching detail of this creasent shaped pastry is the pleated edging. Maharaj Bhawar Singh, corporate chef, Khandani Rajdhani, says, “Gujiyas are nowdays made in a mould. However, traditionally, in Rajasthan, they are individually hand folded.” This tedious process might mean that each of the gujiya is a bit rough around the edges, this gives them some character. An easy way to seal the sweet is by crimping it with fork. However, these sweets are usually made by the women of the house who get together to catch up before the festivities begin. It is also an opportunity to pass down the knowledge to the next generation.

Kesar Gujiya Recipe

Inputs by Bidyut Pan, Sous Chef, Centre Point Hotel, Navi Mumbai


For Filling

Kesar 2-3 g

200 grams khoya

15 grams cashews

10 grams raisins

10 grams almonds

1/2 teaspoon green cardamom powder

50grams semolina

1/2 cup powdered sugar

For Dough

200 grams refined flour

50 grams ghee

100 grams of milk


Add the refined flour along with ghee and milk and mix properly. Knead it softly with your hands to form a dough.Take a pan, add ghee and place it on a medium flame. Add semolina and cook until it turns golden brown. Keep aside and let it cool down. Chop the almonds and cashews into small pieces. After this, add khoya,kesar, chopped dry fruits, cardamom powder and sugar powder in the semolina.After this, take the dough and roll out round shaped balls. Now, take the gujiya moulds and dust it with flour. Put the rolled sheets into the gujiya moulds and add stuffing in it. Add water on the edges and close it so that it gets locked properly Take a deep bottomed pan, add oil in it and heat it on medium flame. Add the gujiyas in it and deep fry them until they turn golden brown. Serve and enjoy.

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