Cover Story: Kajjaya
Cuisine: South Karnataka
“We sell 15,000 pieces of 'Kajjaya' sweets and around 500kg's of 'Kajjayada paka (ready-to-fry Kajjaya dough/paste)' during Deepavali season,” said a staff working in Vasavi Condiments, in Avenue Road, the busiest business street in Bengaluru.
There are at least 250 such shops selling Kajjaya, an exclusive Deepavali sweet, in and around Bengaluru. There is a steady increase in such shops every year as homemakers prefer to buy it but not willing to follow a cumbersome process like their mother's or grandmother's who were preparing it at home.
Seeing the trend, most of the shops started selling 'Kajjaya' throughout the year as it is normally prepared in factories and supplied to retail outlets.
Shops and caterers work overtime during Deepavali season to accept bulk orders from joint families and corporate houses who distributes 'Kajjaya' during Deepavali. Now it has become a trend among those visiting their relatives and friends, to invite them for a Marriage or Gruha Pravesh, to offer 'Kajjayya' and ‘Chakli’ or 'Kodbale' (local spicy fried snacks) along with an invitation card.
Taking advantage of long shelf life, it was a common practice to prepare and store the syrup or paste at every home. To relish mouth watering 'Kajjaya', they used to deep fry directly or by adding sesame seeds, whenever they wanted.
In north Karnataka, the Deepavali festival is more of a social gathering. They invite relatives over 'Tiffin' (Breakfast) in their homes and offer 'Karjeekayi', 'Obbattu', 'Hundi' and other ready to eat sweets along with freshly prepared 'Uppittue' (Upma). Relatives take 'oil bath' and visit temple before obliging the request for 'Tiffin'.
In general, all over karnataka, it is a feast and treats for newly married 'son-in-law'. It is compulsory for the son-in-law to stay for 4-5 days and celebrate his first Deepavali after marriage in the company of in-laws. Some families still continue the tradition of playing the game of ‘Pagdi’ (gambling) everyday during Deepavali and gift the 'pagdi' chart to son-in-law , in the form of gift.
- 8 Raw rice, Jaggery, White sesame / poppy seeds, Ghee and oil
- Wash the rice and drain the water. Add about 1/2-cup of water to the rice.
- Keep aside for about 4 hours.
- n Drain the water completely from the rice, using a strainer.
- Spread the rice, for a few minutes, thinly, on a cotton cloth or on paper towels.
- Grind the rice to a fine powder. It can be little coarse.
- Sieve the rice. Grind and sieve again the left-over rice.
- Add 1/4-cup water to jaggery pieces in a thick-bottomed utensil. Heat the jaggery.
- Simmer, and stir continuously, till the jaggery syrup becomes thick and reaches the ball-consistency.
- Add the rice flour, gradually, to the syrup while stirring it continuously. Switch-off the stove. Keep the utensil aside to cool.
- Coat the dough with a tablespoon of ghee. Kajjaya dough is ready.
- Heat oil in a kadai on a low flame.
- Make few, lemon-sized balls from the dough.
- Coat little oil on a plastic paper or banana leaf. Flatten a lemon-sized ball. Spread the ball to get a round-shape raw kajjaya. It should have some thickness. Make a hole in the center.
- Repeat the above procedure for the other balls. The number of balls you have to prepare depends on the quantity of oil.
- When the oil becomes hot, gently drop the flattened balls into the oil, one at a time.
- Fry till both sides turn to medium-dark brown. Remove the fried kajjayas from the oil and place it in a strainer to remove the extra oil.
- Place the kajjayas, after some time, on 4-5 paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
—R Guru Prasad from Bengaluru