There are some things which are healthy and good for you and then there are things which are so special that you really don’t care how it’s made!
What I have today is one of those very very special recipes which is always associated with large gathering, special celebrations and lots of family and friends around. It’s something you share it with everybody. It’s deep fried, sugar glazed and has NO healthy ingredients in it but you know what, I think it’s great and had to make an appearance in my blog. It’s very unique to my region and I had to document it.
‘Saatu’ is India’s answer to doughnuts! Or that’s the closest comparison I can think of. These are flaky, buttery, crispy and melting soft at the same time, golden brown balls with just a hint of cardamom and a sweet sweet sweet sugar coating. To sum that up in one word – DIVINE.
My today’s recipe is special also because it’s not made by me. These sinful sugary treats are made by my family cook. Every time there is a gathering, celebration or pooja at home we always have a family cook who comes home and cooks a delicious elaborate meal with varieties of South Indian delicacies. I am sharing a glimpse it with you all.
I don’t’ really want to waste too much time talking about saatus as they speak for themselves … all I have to say is that PLEASE make this Sothern Indian specialty as it’ll be very different from everything you have tasted before.
I shot everything in very little light with food all over while a super fast professional cook was churning out hundreds of ‘saatus’! This is the first time I am shooting like this so pardon me for the not so sharp photos.
First let me introduce our cook Mr. Venugopala Bhat who is the creator of these gorgeous beauties.
- 6 cups of all purpose flour
- 1 cup of ghee
- 1 tsp freshly pealed green cardamom pods
- 3 cups of sugar
- Oil for deep frying
Heat ghee till it’s piping hot. Do not burn it, heat it till it melts and is fragrant only.
Peal the cardamom and use only the inside seeds. Keep them whole as crushing them is going to make the patties turn darker in colour when deep fried. Place the flour in a wide vessel, mix in the cardamom and pour the hot ghee on it. Mix it with a spoon till its combined well. When it cools down enough to handle mix the dough with your hands. Hot ghee cooks the flour with its heat and makes it smell like roasted flour. Add water and kneed this into a dough. This will require quite a lot of water as we need a very soft dough, much softer than pizza dough but not sticky. Mix it well but do not work it more than required. Let the dough rest for 15-20 minutes
Heat oil in a pan. Usually by the time oil is hot, dough is ready to be used. Make the dough into small lime sized balls. Roll them between your palms well to smoothen the surface, flatten it a bit and make a light thumb mark in the center. This will even out when the balls puff up after deep frying.
When the oil is ready for deep frying add the dough balls one by one into the hot oil. Fry them in low flame for about 20 minutes or more till they turn golden brown. Do not under cook them. Make sure you cook them in low flame or you will have crisp brown outer skin with uncooked sticky center. Cooking it to the flaky, perfectly cooked center with a golden skin is where the trick of perfect ‘saatu’ lies!
Once done let them sit for a couple of hours till they cool down completely. It’s usually left overnight for best results.
Place 3 cups sugar with 1 cup water in a pan and bring it to a boil. Let it boil till it reaches a nice syrupy consistency. We call it the ‘single thread’ syrup. Basically, place a drop of syrup on your thumb and press it with your finger. When you pull your fingers apart, syrup should form a thin thread and that’s when the syrup is ready. It’ll be as thick as honey. Turn off the heat and let the syrup cool down. Keep stirring it till it gets thicker and starts changing colour. When the syrup cools down enough, throw about 10 to 15 of the deep fried balls inside. Mix them well for the syrup to coat it all over. If the syrup is too hot it will not coat the saatus enough and if it cools down to much, sugar coating will be too thick outside. If you feel like the sugar syrup is not think enough allow it to cool a little more. if the syrup is coating saatus too much, bring it back to a boil once again and let it cool enough only to coat the saatus with a thin layer. Carefully take them out one by one and place them on a non stick surface. We use a banana leaf but silver foil or butter paper should serve the purpose. Turn them over to help them cool on the other side as well. Repeat with rest of the deep fried balls.
When completely cool, store in an airtight container for up to 15 days outside and a month if refrigerated.