Balushahi (Pastries Coated in Syrup and Nuts)

Balushahis, deep-fried pastry circles that are dipped in syrup and coated with crumbly nuts, go particularly well with after-dinner coffee. Almonds and pistachios are used here, but any other unsalted nuts may be substituted.


For the pastry:
250 g/8 oz plain flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
a pinch of salt
1/4 tsp cardamom powder
4 tbsp melted ghee
3 tbsp yoghurt
1 1/2 tbsp cold water
Ghee for deep-frying
2 light-coloured cardamom pods, bruised
3 tbsp blanched almonds
3 tbsp blanched pistachios

For the syrup:
8 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp water
2 tsp lime or lemon juice


Sift the flour in to a bowl with the bicarbonate of soda and stir in the salt and cardamom powder. Rub in the ghee, mix in the yoghurt and water and knead to a soft dough. Divide the dough into 16 portions and roll into your thumb and then flatten out the circles. The centre should be thinner than the other rim.

Heat the ghee for deep-frying in a heavy-bottomed frying pan until it sizzles if splashed with drops of water. Drop in the bruised cardamom, reduce the heat to low and slip the pastry circles into the ghee a few at a time. The ghee should simmer around them. Let them fry for about 6 minutes then turn them over. They should swell and be light golden in colour.

Remove with a slotted spoon onto absorbent paper and repeat until all the dough circles are cooked. Allow to cool.

Now, while the balushahis are cooling, prepare the syrup.

Simmer the sugar and water together in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a low heat until the mixture becomes a thick, heavy syrup which will stick to the balushahis. Then stir in the lime or lemon juice.

Coat the fried circles with syrup by dropping them into the hot syrup a few at a time. Remove with tong onto the bed of crumbly nut mixture and sprinkle the tops with the other half of the nut mixture. Allow to cool.

Recipe excerpted from Moghul Cooking: India's Courtly Cuisine by Joyce Westrip (Serif, 1997)