During my time in Mumbai I had the opportunity of eating Bombay style Christmas goodies only at my aunt's place. Since we didn't have any Goan or East Indian friends I missed out on all the fabulous chance to eat the traditional goodies made by them during the season. However, the ironic part is that whenever we visited my aunt's place I only enjoyed eating all the lovely goodies that she made but since the blog did not exist back then and making Christmas sweets from scratch was never in my agenda I never bothered to learn making them! What a pity! It was just recently when I decided to venture out into making some Bombay style goodies that I realised that there was no proper recipe available online that I could rely on. I then managed to ask my aunt for her recipe and since she is an old hand at making these goodies for over 25 years I knew that I could trust her recipe a 100%.
I have mentioned in my previous posts that I have been blessed to be related to many good cooks. My mum's cousin Aunty Rosette Pinto is one among them. Not just a good cook she is a great person too. Kind hearted, soft spoken and generous. She is one person who knows that the way to anybody's heart is through the stomach and has always entertained her guests with scrumptious food. I have had the good fortune of eating at her place a few times and being fed some homely and delicious Mangalorean food.
When I approached her recently for the recipes of some popular Christmas sweets made in Bombay she was more than willing to help. She sent me the pictures of her handwritten recipes on Whatsapp and then despite her busy schedule she answered every silly doubt patiently. Since I had no idea how these rolls looked and had no recollection of how they tasted I went back and forth with my doubts and her guidance was extremely helpful. Aunty Rosette's tried and tested recipe turned out to be a fool proof one that resulted in the most delicious date rolls! Not only was the process simpler than I had anticipated but the final result pretty and yummy!
These rolls have a lovely, crumbly shortcrust pastry covering with a delicately sweet date and walnut filling inside. You just can't have one!
By the way, these date rolls with a pastry covering is just one of their kind. If you Google a bit you will come across different ways to make date rolls. Some have desiccated coconut added to them. However this is the way they are made in most Goan, East Indian and Mangalorean households in Bombay. A big note of gratitude to my sister in law's cousin Amelia Mascarenhas who was chatting with me on FB the day I made these. She helped me narrow down on what I was actually looking to make and also helped me look for pictures online that matched the exact kind of date rolls made in Bombay.
Making Bombay style 'kuswar' (Christmas goodies) is going to be a breeze henceforth. I have two lovely ladies to help me! :)
Thank you Aunty Rosette and Amelia!!
Prep time: 40 - 45 mins | Bake time: 15 mins | Yield 34-36 date rolls
For the filling:
- 250 grams dates, pitted (after measuring) and finely chopped/minced * see notes
- 50 grams (1/2 cup) walnuts finely chopped/minced
- 2 cups (230 grams) all purpose flour (maida)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 2 teaspoon powdered sugar (caster sugar)
- 1/2 cup (100 grams) butter or ghee softened at room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- approx 3/4th cup (180ml) cold/chilled water to knead the dough
For the egg wash (optional)
- 1 egg yolk lightly beaten
- 1-2 teaspoons water
To make the filling:
1. Mix the minced dates and walnuts in a bowl and knead into a ball
2. On a clean surface roll out the ball into a long sausage
3. Pinch out marble size balls out of the sausage and shape them into tiny oblong shapes (pellets) - the size of kulkuls
4. Continue until all the mixture has been used up.
To make the dough/covering:
1. In a bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Rub butter into it until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs
2. Add the sugar and sprinkle the chilled water a little at a time to knead the mixture into a smooth dough without any cracks on the surface. You may not require the full amount of water mentioned.
3. Roll out the dough on a clean working surface into a large square or rectangular shape. Cut out squares approx 1-1/2 or 2" each and keep it ready.
To assemble & bake
1. Preheat oven at 180 degrees C for 15 mins. Line a large baking tray with baking parchment
2. Place a square of dough on the working surface, place the filling inside, roll up the covering around it and gently seal the open edges using some pressure. If you need to slightly overlap the covering it is ok as it will prevent the dough from opening up during the baking process.
3. Place all the rolls slightly spaced apart on the prepared baking tray and brush them with the egg wash for a golden glaze.
4. Bake for 15-16 minutes until golden on top. Remove and allow to cool completely on a wire rack before transferring into an airtight container (if not cooled completely they will turn soft and soggy)
1. If you are using pitted dates (seedless) then you can reduce the quantity from 250 grams to around 210-220 grams. Try to use soft & mushy kind of dates - Medjool if you can afford them are the best or even Omani dates work well. Basically we need to use dates that can blend easily with the nuts to form a dough.
2. If you are making the dough ahead of time you can do so, just refrigerate it or freeze it in an airtight container but when you intend to use it/roll it out make sure it has been brought back to room temperature - do not use shortcuts and microwave the dough as the butter will melt and the dough will lose its texture and become hard to work with