This is an all time favourite of mine. I grew up on this stuff, not being a lover of anything savoury as a child. Magaj is a sweetmeat that is cooked and left to set. Before it sets, I sprinkle it with chopped or sliced nuts and cut up into diamond shapes, just like my mum does. Its commonly made with refined sugar these days but since my mum has been telling me for years to eat healthier, unrefined cane sugar or Gor, also known as Jaggery and Panela, I set out trying to make my favourite Indian sweet using that.
I’ve also made it without any dairy products which also changes the consistency a bit. This version tastes a bit different to magaj that you might buy in a shop or traditional magaj that I know but Its just as more-ish as ever!
(I think Gor is increasing in popularity now as it contains a lot of the cane’s natural nutrients and gives an earthy, slightly gingery flavour to the food and I’ve also found that its commonly used in lots of other countries.)
My first attempt was far from perfect but I was surprised that all my friends that tried it, couldn’t stop eating it (just like me). The Gor is not as easy to melt as refined sugar so I tried melting it in water to make a syrup but that turned into a kind of caramel and made my magaj sticky. I found that the best way was to shave or grate the magaj before adding it and this has worked the best.
Warning: This is not the kind of recipe that you can make just by sticking to the instructions as every batch/brand of Gor can be of a slightly different consistency and the chick pea flour will react to it differently. I’ve experimented with about 10 batches to get to a magaj that I am happy with but a few less/extra spoonfuls of milk can make a big difference so if it doesn’t work first time, tweak it a bit. I’ll do my best to describe how I recognise when its right for me but if it doesn’t set the way it ought to, just enjoy it with a spoon.
- 90g vegan margarine
- 280g course chick pea flour
- 140g Gor (unrefined sugar)
- 6 Cardamom pods, shelled and finely blended/chopped
- 1 teaspoons grated Nutmeg
- 3-4 tablespoons of vegan milk (I like to use coconut milk but any will do)
- For topping: Chopped almonds and pistachio nuts
- Melt margarine in a large, thinned bottom pan, a wok works well (careful not to let it burn) on a low heat.
- Add chick pea flour and keep stirring with a metal spoon, break down any lumps and ensure flour is mixed well with margarine until the flour is fragrant and has turned a light brown.
- Thinly slice off or grate the needed amount of Gor and add to the pan. (Please don’t be tempted to use lumps of Gor as it won’t work!)
- Mix well as the Gor is melting and add cardamom and nutmeg.
- Once all the Gor is melted and blended in with the mixture (can take 10-15 minutes), turn off the heat.
- Add milk and stir it in. I add milk a tablespoon at a time so as not to get the mixture too wet as this will result in a sticky Gor. I think it is just right when the mixture is no longer crumbly but looks wet and sticks to itself. If it gets too wet at this point it won’t set to be firm. If you do get it too wet, no matter, sticky magaj is still yummy.
- Grease a tray or dish that you don’t mind cutting in (ie not a non-stick cake tin) and spread your mixture into the tray (I use two 18cm round trays). Sprink on almonds and pistachio nuts. Press down using a greased spoon or bottom of a steel bowl.
- Cut your magaj into squares or diamond pieces before it cools down.
Once its cooled down, eat and enjoy!