Ghewar is a traditional dessert from Northern India. Rajasthan is usually credited with preparing Ghewar, though Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi and Gujarat also prepares this dessert. It is one dessert that is a piece of art and strongly defines the culinary might of the Indian halwai. It is both intricate to make and very delicate and crumbly in texture. I fell in love with Ghewar the day I first saw it being made when I was still an intern in the Halwai kitchen of Taj Air Catering, New Delhi.
In my entire career so far, my biggest challange has always been how to make the Halwai more respectable, more sellable, more aspirational. And hence these trials with the traditional dishes. This dessert is a intelligent mix of ghee, flour and milk and what comes out is such an intricate net of fried batter which is very artistic. Traditionally a Ghewar is soaked in thick sugar syrup and then topped with a good dollop of rabri (thick sweetened milk fudge) and garnished with saffron and pista.
But I see this dessert very differently. I have always loved the Halwai section in Indian cuisine and I feel it is the most under-rated. So for MasterChef India season 1 I made a 3 tier Ghewar Cake. And i omitted completely the heavy sugar syrup and rabri. Instead each layer had a French topping to it. Soft creamy custard to wine poached fresh figs, chocolate dipped strawberries to fresh whipped dairy cream, it was a marriage of french patisserie with Indian Halwai.
And after 4 seasons I am back in the MasterChef India Kitchen with my first pressure test. Guess what its Ghewar again, Only this time it is much smaller and more intricate and combined with my first love - Chocolates. There are four components to this Ghewar with lots of style and showmanship. 2 pieces of ghewar, one top of the other with a berry cheese cake sitting on top.
This now encased in in chocolate petals that one has to bring together painstakingly. All the chocolate petals built around the ghewar to enclose it completely. And a saffron egg custard french style just warm enough that when poured it melts the chocolate to beautifully reveal the Ghewar. Besides the obvious food drama that happens, what works best is the custard with Ghewar that reminds you of Ghewar with rabri. The cheese cake with tart berries are in a perfect harmony with the Ghewar. Best is the sugar is just right, like one would not expect in a traditional Ghewar.
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