Growing up in Guyana I only ate soft Mithai at Muslim holidays (such as Eid Al Fitr) or at Muslim weddings. It was not something we made at home and unlike the skinny, crunchy mithai it was not part of our regular snack rotation. Last October Alica from Alica’s Pepperpot shared a scrumptious picture of soft mithai and encouraged followers to try some for Diwali. They looked so good that I immediately had a longing for home and soft mithai. I decided to make a gluten free batch. They came out so well, that I’ve been making them ever since. I’ve tweaked the recipe to the point where it is very different from the one that Alica shared (click here to see her original recipe), but if it were not for that recipe my recipe would not exist!
Making the gluten free mithai dough
I used a combination of all purpose measure for measure flour and potato flour for this recipe. It is important to note that I did not use potato starch, which is often confused for potato flour. Potato flour is what helps these gluten free soft mithais to mimic the texture of regular soft mithai. It’s soft and dense but also a bit crunchy on the outside.
If you’ve read some of my recent recipes then you know that we are trying our best to be dairy free in my house, because my children have dairy allergies. Their dairy allergy is not severe but I’ve been working to convert the things that I make at home to dairy free to ease some of their tummy troubles. Therefore for this recipe, I’ve made it completely dairy free and vegan. What I’ve noticed since I started going the dairy free route is that nothing is compromised in flavor or texture. If anything the addition of coconut milk and coconut oil heightens the flavor of most dishes.
This mithai dough is soft and pliable. It comes together quickly, but it is important to let the dough rest for 30 to 40 minutes before cutting it into the mithai pieces and frying. Letting the dough rest makes the difference in the final results. I’ve rushed through making these mithais before and when I don’t let the dough rest the mithais are soggy and flat. They don’t get that little bit of puffiness and crunchy exterior that I love so much.
Shaping the Mithai
To shape the mithais, divide the dough into 4 pieces by just pinching off large chunks of dough. I pinch mine off as I go, rather than separating it into four balls. Then I roll the pinched off piece into a ball, place between two sheets of parchment paper and roll with a rolling pin until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Then I cut the rough edges away and cut the rolled out dough into triangles. You may cut the dough into any shape you like. Or cut them into strips and gently roll them into chunky logs which is how the soft mithais were shaped when I was growing up in Guyana. The pieces from the edges can me smushed together with the remaining dough.
Adding the Syrup
Making the sugar syrup or glaze for mithai is often the hardest part for most people. Not knowing when it is ready can sometimes be daunting. My first couple of times making mithai (years ago) I didn’t cook the syrup long enough and when I poured it over the mithai it didn’t crystalize into that white coating that is synonymous with mithai. How disappointing. All of my hard work wasted. I was left with a soggy and sweet mess.
Now I can eye ball it and know when it is ready but if you are not there yet, I highly recommend that you invest in a candy or instant read thermometer. They are relatively cheap and help with accuracy when cooking. They are perfect for fudge making too. Of course you can also just test your syrup in some water to see if it is at the soft ball stage. Check out this article on How to test for stages of sugar syrup.
After adding the sugar syrup to these mithais I gently tossed them around to help crystalize the syrup. You may want to do this in batches to ensure an even coating of the sugar and to also prevent the mithais from breaking up.
Rolling versus cutting
The rolled soft mithais needed a bit more time to cook as they were quite thick but they were just as delicious as the ones that were cut into triangles. My children love these so much. They help me roll them as I cut the dough into strips. I love getting my children involved in the kitchen, especially when I am making treats for them.
Perfect Texture Soft Mithai Texture
Although these mithais are gluten free nothing was lost in the texture. My husband grabbed a good handful of these and walked off without even knowing they were gluten free. I’ve stopped announcing when things are gluten free, to see if the gluten eaters will notice. He just kept commenting on how much coconut flavor it had and how addicting it was. Give them a try (even if you are a gluten eater) and see if you can tell that they aren’t the regular soft mithai.
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The Printable Gluten Free Soft Mithai recipe
- 2 cups of Measure for Measure Gluten Free Flour
- 1 cup of potato flour
- 3 teaspoons of baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon of salt
- 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon of ground cloves
- ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- ¾ cup of coconut milk
- ¾ cup of water
- 1 cup of grated coconut
- ¼ cup of coconut oil
- 4 cups of oil suitable for frying
- Parchment paper for rolling the dough and shaping
- 1½ cups of sugar
- 1½ cups of water
- 2-3 cardamom pods (optional)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- In a large mixing bowl combine the gluten free all purpose flour, potato flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, ground cinnamon, ground cloves and ground nutmeg and mix together
- Then rub the coconut oil into the dry ingredient to form a crumbly texture
- Next add the grated coconuts and mix into the dry ingredients, then set aside
- Combine the coconut milk and water. I used cold coconut milk and water
- Then add the water and coconut milk mixture to the other ingredients and press together to form a soft dough. I add the liquid a little at a time until all the milk-water mixture and other ingredients combine to form a soft dough that I press into a log or ball with my hands
- Cover the dough with a damp paper towel and let it rest for 30-40 minutes
- After the dough has rested divide the dough into 4 large balls
- Place each ball between two sheets of parchment paper, then using a rolling pin roll each dough out until it is ½ inch thick
- Then cut away the rough edges and cut the dough into triangles. Alternatively you may cut the dough into 3 inch by 2 inch strips and then roll them into thick logs
- Next, to fry the dough, add 4 cups of oil to a large pot on medium-high heat and bring up to temperature
- When the oil is hot add a batch of cut out or rolled out mithais to the oil and fry until mithais are golden brown, stir as often as needed to ensure even frying
- Remove from the heat and place in a bowl lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil
- Repeat until all of the mithais have been fried
- Combine the sugar, water and cardamom in a small saucepan then mix together until the sugar dissolves
- Then place saucepan on medium heat and bring to a boil
- Boil uncovered for 5 minutes then remove the cardamom pods
- Continue to boil until the syrup reduces and is at the soft ball stage or 235 °F (see notes for testing soft ball)
- When the syrup reaches the soft ball stage, pour the syrup over the fried mithai and toss until the sugar crystalizes. I do this in small batches to ensure that all of the mithai are evenly coated with sugar. Additionally the gluten free soft mithai is more tender than regular mithai and therefore more likely to fall apart during this step if you are not gentle
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