By Prof. Vd Rangaprasad Bhat.
Khaja is a famous sweet dish made from all purpose flour (Maida). In ancient times it was prepared from wheat / black gram flour, called Phenika. It is an aphrodisiac and is rich in nutrition.
The pheṇikā is a preparation made from wheat flour [godhūma] or blackgram flour [māṣa] which is praiseworthy of taste and for its lightness in getting digested.
The prepared pheṇikā appears with vimukhaṃ [exvoluted] bahudala (multiple layers) of dough which is fried in an oily base.
Khaja prepared from wheat is a light food [laghuja īrā]
provides strength to the debilitated body [balayati] and
provides relief in a person suffering from vomiting [chardināśaṃ karoti].
Reduces discomfort from acidity and heart burn
It is very nourishing dish. (1)
Khaja from black gram dough
heavy for digestion [guravo];
nourishing in nature [bṛhṃnāḥ];
provides unctuousness and strength to the body [snigdhā; balyāḥ];
promotes the śukra dhātu and improves sex power. (2)
The above culinary pheṇikā mentioned by Sushena in Ayurveda Mahodadhi (14th Century) , is akin to the Khaja sweet which is prepared in Bihar, Odisha, Uttarpradesh, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. It may be noted that this sweet is offered as a offering in the Jagannath Temple, Puri.
Method of preparation of Khaja / Phenika
Take the finely ground flour of the selected grain. To it add quantity sufficient of water and sugar and make a hard dough as one prepares for doing chapāthi (flat bread). Simultaneously take a few amount of the selected grain’s powder and ghee to its equal amount. Mix both these to beget a fine paste, which is required to smear over the layers of the pheṇikā to make the layers become non sticky.
Having kept the above mixture ready, now take a small amount of the hard dough, flatten it and start rolling it with a wooden roller or rolling pin to beget an elongated and ovoid chapāthi like a tandoori nAn.
To the above oval shaped flattened dough start smearing the paste of grain flour and ghee kept prepared ready all over its exposed surface.
Having done that, now start rolling inwards, the flattened and smeared dough from one edge of the dough towards the other end to get a rolled. By doing so, the smeared paste sees to it that the rolled multi layers [bahu dala] do not get adhered to the layers underneath and superseding.
Once having completed the process of rolling, see to it that the final portion of the dough is pressed little bit so that it stays adhered and do not get separated.
Finally, cut the above rolled and prepared dough with a sharp edged knife to make it into two equal halves.
Having completed the above basic preparation of the dough, now to beget a tasty and crispy pheṇikā (crisp croissants), take a pan with deep bottom, add quantity sufficient of cow’s ghee, and heat it in medium flame. Once the ghee is heated and ready, start frying the prepared pheṇikā dough in the ghee, until the dough gets fried and turns into a light golden yellowish in tinge, and be allowed to cool. It may be noted that the preparation remains good for use at least for a period ranging from 20 to 30 days, if stored properly devoid of any moisture in a clean and moisture free stainless steel vessel or glass jar.
The process of preparation of [godhūma or maṣa] pheṇikā is thus accomplished.
In case if one requires additional layer of sweet to be added to the preparation, a cumin or sugar syrup may be prepared as per the nala pāka and pour it along the layers of the pheṇikā to get soaken and then be stored in a container for partaking.
Click to consult Vd. Rangaprasad Bhat