Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Gram Flour Fudge (Monthar)

This is one of my favorite Indian mithais (literally ‘sweets’). It seems to be Gujarati in origin since most of my Indian friends have never heard of it. Like so many mithais, its basic ingredients are a combination of flour, sugar, butter and milk. While often too sweet and rich for the Western palate, mithais are widely enjoyed by South Asians in the homeland and diaspora.

They are traditionally eaten on special occasions, and are not really equivalent to daily desserts which have become a modern custom in North America. Often, families will make platters of various kinds of mithais and send them to neighbors and friends in anticipation of Divali, Eid or other festive occasions.

Growing up in Calgary, we had a family friend who was renowned for her monthar. She would make it in great slabs
studded with nuts and saffron threads. While I was away at college and graduate school, this was a favorite treat for me to pick up on my trips home. I’d usually freeze the whole batch, and defrost one square at a time.

2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon orange food color powder
1 lb unsalted butter (4 sticks)
1lb gram flour (also called besan or chickpea flour)
1 cup evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon saffron
1/2 cup almonds and pistachios, chopped (optional)

1. Boil sugar, water and food color until 240F on a candy thermometer. It can also be tested by dropping a small amount on a plate. It will form a soft ball when it is at the right temperature.
2. In a large saucepan, heat the butter and using a spoon carefully skim off as much of the foam as possible. Then decant the butter, discarding the milk solids that have settled on the bottom of the pan. Return butter to pan.
3. On medium heat, add flour and sauté until golden brown. This can take 10-20 minutes so be patient.
4. Increase the heat slightly and slowly add evaporated milk, stirring constantly.
5. Add the syrup mixture and remove from heat. Add nutmeg, cardamom and saffron and stir well.
6. Allow the mixture to cool for 5 minutes, and then stir the mixture until it thickens.
7. Spread in a 9 x 9 inch pan and sprinkle with nuts. Using the back of a spoon, pat down gently to ensure the nuts are properly attached.
8. When cool, cut into 1 inch squares.
9. Store in the refrigerator for 3 weeks or the freezer for 3 months.


dining tables said...

This is a perfect giveaway for the Halloween. I will put them in a package for the kids! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I made it for Diwali, and it was a huge hit.

Amrita said...

Yes its certainly Gujrathi in origin, I ate it a lot at Parag's parents place except they pronounced it more like Mo-han-tar. Apparently Ahemdabad is the place to go for it but that's so far away so great to have the recipe to try at home!

Anonymous said...

looks yummy! some doubts though.. in Indian standards lb is how many grams or kilos or better if u can tell how many cups? and does evaporated milk mean milk powder?

Reagan said...

Nice dish! I'm getting hungrier as I type this.

AKR said...

To answer the question from Anonymous:

1lb = 16 ounces = 454 g = 0.45 kilos

Also, evaporated milk is NOT milk powder. It is a liquid that comes in a can: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evaporated_milk

Not sure what the Indian equivalent would be. I suspect whole milk would be roughly equivalent.

Anand Buddhdev said...

It's actually "Mohan Thal" (Mohan is one of the epithets of Krishna). I changed the "r" at the end to an "l" because the retroflex sound is best translated to "l", and it's how it is known in Hindi. This mithai is Gujarati though.

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Anonymous said...

It is Gujrathi/Rajasthani in Origin and its Mohan Thal .