A look at the most popular Baklavas in India
On National Baklava Day today, we delve into the world of this flaky Turkish pastry that is gaining popularity in India
A dessert that has become hugely popular in India over the last few years, baklava is a flaky, sweet pastry from Turkey that has found aficionados across the world. Made up of several layers of filo dough with chopped nuts, baklava takes the final shape once the layers are stacked on top of one another and cooked in a syrupy sugar mix. “Baklava has become a favourite dessert option among Indian food lovers in the recent times. There is something about its unique method of preparation that draws people towards it. The sweet, nutty Turkish treat is unbearably sweet and Indians are known to have a sweet tooth,” says chef Makrand Samant, Kyma, BKC.
Experts believe that the way the baklava is made and how it looks has given traditional Indian sweets a run for their money. “Baklava is a rich dessert and Indians are known for liking sweets that look great, taste well and are rich. Hence, it has become an integral part of the buffets in the recent times. Even during the functions, the guests insist that baklava should be at the dessert counter,” says chef Parimal Sawant, culinary director, Meluha The Fern, Powai.
Chef Samant adds, “Alongside popular Indian sweets like kaju katli, jalebi, gulab jamun and laddoo, baklava has become quite popular, too. It is also served at religious ceremonies by people from different communities in India.”
Besides being palatable, baklava is also considered a healthy dessert option. “It is a healthier variant, as it is baked. It is made using nuts and clarified butter — items that are considered healthy, premium and, in some cases, luxury too. It is sweet and fattening, but it’s loaded with good fats. So, it also does well in terms of nutritional value,” says chef Vikram Singh, Cafe 49, Juhu.
Some of the popular varieties in India are:
Also known as kuru baklava, the dry baklava doesn’t have the syrupy sugar water poured over it. The flavours of the nuts and filo dough provide it a natural sweetness.
This is the most popular variety of the dessert. Usually in the shape of a square or rectangle, the baklava comprises chopped pistachios as a stuffing, with some sprinkled on top of it too.
This wet variety of baklava is made using milk. Since it’s topped with milk instead of the sugar syrup, it has a lighter feel. As it is made with milk, the shelf life of this variety is quite short.
Made using walnuts, this variety of baklava is less sweet compared to the pistachio one. It’s a great option for those who enjoy a dessert that’s not too sweet.
Mixed Nuts Baklava recipe
30gm rose water
40gm castor sugar
100gm clarified butter (ghee)
14 filo pastry sheets
Prepare the ingredients. Preheat the oven to 180 °C. Place the mixed nuts in the food processor and crush.
Melt the clarified butter in a pan or microwave.
Cut the filo pastry sheets in half so that you have two nine-inch-wide pieces.
To assemble the baklava, brush a layer of clarified butter at the bottom of the baking dish.
Top with two sheets of filo pastry. Brush lightly with butter and add two more sheets. Repeat twice so you have eight sheets of filo pastry in the baking dish.
Sprinkle 1/3rd of the mixed nuts. Top with two sheets of filo. Brush the top of the filo with butter, then repeat so that you have four sheets on top of the mixed nuts.
Sprinkle another 1/3rd of the mixed nuts. Top with two filo sheets. Brush the top of the filo with clarified butter and repeat the process until you have four sheets on top of the second layer of mixed nuts.
Sprinkle the remaining mixed nuts. Add two more sheets of filo, then brush the top with clarified butter. Continue to add the filo sheets and clarified butter layers until you run out of the filo pastry.
Cut the baklava into four long strips. Further cut it into square pieces.
Place the baking dish into the oven and bake uncovered for 35 minutes, or until it is puffed and golden on the top.
To prepare the syrup, warm the water and sugar in a small pot over high heat until the sugar dissolves. Remove the pot and stir with rose water. Set aside to cool.
Once the baklava is baked, remove it from the oven and immediately pour the cool syrup on top. Let it rest for at least two hours before serving.
Recipe by chef Vikram Singh