Mithai literally means Sweets. However in Guyana, Mithai refers to a particular sweet called Laktoe. This sweet is made when we have Maticore/Dye night ceremonies before Hindu weddings. This recipe is for the crunchy Laktoe. There is another kind of Laktoe --a softer kind that used to be made for Muslim weddings. Today, Hindus also make the softer variety. In Trinidad, it is called Kurma--both varieties.
This is the crunchy Mithai's recipe. It is requries just a few ingredients which makes it ideal for weddings where you have to prepare everything in huge quantities. At most Hindu weddings, it a free for all and anyone can attend. Food is prepared in abundance. The Mithai that is made for the Maticore ceremony, is offered as Prasad to Mother Earth/Dharti Ma--when the Mothers of the Bride and Groom perform Puja to Her. Mithai is also made and sent to the Groom's home from the Bride's home and the Groom also brings some from his home to the Bride's. My Mom says that when she was a child in Essequibo, the ladies would take the Mithai dough and make some in the shape of humans and then send them to the other side( bride or groom).
Making Mithai for the Maticore is the starting of the Wedding food preparation and it is such great fun for the kids especially. Can remember when our elder cousins got married and the ladies were making the Mithai. They had to constantly shoo us away as we could not eat the Mithai before it was offered as Prasad much later in the evening. The delicious smell of all the different preparations assaulting our delicate nostrils was such a test to our restraints.
Have not used any flavourings at all in this recipe but you are free to add any of your choice. Ground Cinamon, or Elaichi/Cardamon or Nutmeg can be added to the dry ingredients or to the syrup. In Trinidad, grated ginger is added to the syrup.
Mithai is one of those things that once you start eating, it is contagious--you simply cannot stop.....
3 cups all purpose flour
1 level teaspoon baking powder
1 cup water
Oil for deep-frying.
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teacup water
1. Add all the dry ingredients into a deep bowl. Mix well to fully incorporate all the ingredients.
2. Add the water a little at a time. We want a soft but firm dough---not sticky at all.
3. Knead with about 50 strokes then place in a bowl and cover with a tea towel.
4. Allow sit for 15 minutes.
5. Turn out onto a floured board and cut into 5 pieces.
6. Taking one of the dough balls, roll it out to about 1/8'' thickness---like when making paratha rotis.
7. Using a sharp knife, score lines through the dough horizontally.
8. You need a cutting board or chouki for the next step:
9. Thoroughly flour the board or else the dough pieces will get stuck on it.
10. Taking up one of the dough strip,place it on the cutting board and start cutting off into thin strips.
11. Make sure that all the pieces stay onto the board--this makes it easier to move them to the frying pan.
12. Heat oil in a deep frying pan on medium heat.
13. As soon as the oil is hot, take the cutting board with the mithai strips and using your knife, push them off the board and into the oil. Be very careful so as not to burn yourself.
14. Using the same knife, poke it into the frying pan and shift the dough around to loosen the pieces. Using a knife is most effective as the dough pieces do not stick to it.
15. Stir as it cooks to ensure that its evenly cooked. Allow to fry until golden brown.
16. Remove the fried pieces and drain on paper towel.
17.Do the same process from No.6 until all the dough has been cut, fried and drained.
18. To make the Syrup: Place the sugar and water in a deep saucepan and put to boil on high flame.
19. Stir the liquid often as it boils with a wooden spoon.
20. As it starts to thicken, dip a spoonful up and watch how it flows off the side of the spoon--it must be like thick honey consistency--soft ball stage. Drop some into a glass of water and it should retain its soft ball shape. Turn off the heat and remove from the stove.
21. You need to work fast now. Pour all the fried Mithai pieces into the pan with the syrup. Start stirring immediately. As you tumble up the pieces, the syrup will start to dry out and coat the mithai.
22. Continue tumbling the pieces until the sugar has crystalised and stuck onto the mithai.
23. Your crunchy Mithai is ready to eat... Enjoy.
This is what it looks like when White Sugar is used instead of Brown Sugar in the syrup. My Brother says that the Brown Sugar Mithai tasted much better than the White Sugar Mithai!