Balushahi (or Badusha as it is referred to in the southern states of India) is a sugar-glazed deep-fried flaky North Indian pastry that resembles a doughnut. I know many people call it an Indian doughnut, but that’s doing the Balushai an injustice as it is nothing like a doughnut, except possibly in its appearance. A doughnut is soft and spongy while a Balushahi is flaky.
Balushahi or Badusha is as well known in South India as it is in the North and some might argue about my saying it is North Indian in origin. I remember it from my childhood as a sweet which wasn’t made in my home but occasionally came in specially wrapped boxes which were brought by some family or friends when they came visiting us. It is a sweet made and distributed for special occasions like marriages and other ritualistic ceremonies.
It is originated from India. If we talk about dish history it tells that dishes which have “shahi” which comes from the Persian “Shah” meaning royal, invariably have their origins in Mughlai cuisine which is a style of Indian cooking that came with the Mughal invaders or tradespeople from Persia. The “Shahi” cuisine is also incredibly rich usually, and the Balushahi is one of them as it consists of ghee in it. Also, the deep-fried pastry dipped in sugar syrup is reminiscent of sweets from the Middle East.
The choice of fat in this recipe is ghee. I understand some people make it successfully with unsalted butter too but butter would never give the Balushahi the nutty taste and fragrance that ghee does. Ghee is nothing but clarified butter and can be made at home (the best option) or bought from the store. Ghee gives the flavor and texture to balushahi. This recipe uses fewer ingredients and the star of the dish is ghee.
As balushahi is garnished with pistachios or almonds. These nuts give more richness to the dish. The version of the sweet which we call Badusha in the South is usually not garnished with nuts at all but covered in a thick white dry sugar glaze, whereas the Northern version is glazed with a shiny transparent sugar glaze. In north sweet dishes are made from all-purpose flour (maida) but in the south, it is made from rice or rice flour.
Indian Dessert Balushahi Recipe
- All purpose flour 3 cup
- Baking soda 1/2 tsp
- Curd 1/4 cup
- Clarified butter (ghee) 6 tbsp
- Milk 2 tbsp
- Clarified butter (ghee) for deep frying
- Sugar 2 cup
- Water 1 cup
- Cardamom 2
- Saffron strands 1/2 tsp
- Sieve all-purpose flour and baking soda in a bowl.
- Add ghee and mix nicely with your fingertips.
- Add yogurt and mix well.
- Now add milk and knead to make a soft dough.
- Cover the dough and keep aside for 30 minutes.
- Make equal sized balls from the dough.
- Do not smoothen them much.
- Press in the center of the dough ball with your thumb.
- Heat ghee in a heavy bottom pan.
- When the ghee is slightly hot, drop the Balushahi in the ghee very gently. Do not heat the ghee too much otherwise, the Balushahi will fry from outside but will remain raw from inside.
- Fry on very low heat till golden brown.
- Remove from heat once done on a plate and let cool completely.
For sugar syrup
- Heat sugar, water, cardamom powder and saffron in a pan.
- Do not stir much.
- Cook till the syrup reaches a 1 string consistency.
- To check the syrup consistency, take a little syrup in a spoon and let it cool slightly.
- It should make 1 string.
- Remove the pan from heat once the syrup reaches the desired consistency.
- Dip the balushahi in the warm sugar syrup and remove it on a plate.
- Let them dry for 2-3 hours.
- Garnish with pistachio and rose petals.