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July 30, 2020
Mohanthal and Dhilo Mohanthal
Mohanthal and Dhilo Mohanthal are buttery, melt-in-the-mouth Indian sweets with cardamom, saffron and mace. Enjoy as a square or as a hot fudge-like pudding with ice cream.
Watch my Mohanthal and Dhilo Mohanthal video
What is Mohanthal?
Mohanthal, when served as a set square, is a sweet and delicious fudge made from toasted chickpea flour. The texture is grainy and meltingly short, like the lovechild of fudge and shortcrust pastry.
“Mohan” is another name for the Hindu deity, Krishna and “Thal” means plate. This dish is named after him and the saga of his sweet tooth.
What is Dhilo Mohanthal?
Dhilo Mohanthal (or Disco Mohanthal) is the hot, liquid form of Mohanthal. Serve it like hot fudge, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and chopped nuts.
The ice cream melts into a pool, partially setting the Mohanthal it touches for a hot and cold pudding like no other. The textures of Dhilo Mohanthal are out of this world.
Indeed, it’s no wonder Mohanthal is such a popular dessert at Indian weddings; Gujarati and Rajasthani weddings in particular.
Why do they call it Disco Mohanthal?
It’s a mystery! I have no idea why, but some people call Dhilo Mohanthal Disco Mohanthal. What’s to question when it sounds this fun?!
Does anybody know why? Let me know in the comments!
What does Mohanthal and Dhilo Mohanthal taste like?
A favourite during holy festivals and family celebrations, the distinct, toasty smell of Mohanthal is inimitable. It calls for liberal use of mace. Not nutmeg, but the orange-hued outer blades that cover it.
Bring the flavours of your Mohanthal to life with the addition of salt. Yes, salt.
Butter vs. Ghee
I use salty butter to make my Mohanthal. Cue the gasps of horror. Purists will tell me the only way to make Mohanthal is with ghee. I respectfully disagree.
When you toast nutty chickpea flour in fat, it screams for salt. Think salted caramel on level 2,840 of Candy Crush Saga. It’s that delicious. I make Mohanthal more than I make most Indian mithais and believe me when I say that this one is best made with butter.
Still want to use ghee?
Having said this, you can indeed use ghee if you like. If ghee is your fat of choice, be sure to add a generous pinch of salt to the toasted besan. I promise, salt will bring your Mohanthal to life.
Do I really need a cooking thermometer?
Yes. A thousand times, yes! Unless you’re a well-seasoned mithaiwallah, don’t use the “string” method to check the consistency of your sugar syrup. It might have been the done thing years ago and that’s fine. Your grandma did it, my grandma did it, and so does my mum. I bet it’s the same for you.
Things you need to cut any kind of set Indian sweet neatly: A sharp knife, a steady hand and lots of patience. I like to use a metal ruler, a plastering trowel and cake scraper to mark out where to cut first.
A flexible spatula helps lift the mithai from the tin. The first one or two pieces cut from the tin will usually break. It’s okay! I like to roll the broken ones into laddoos. Never have high expectations for the first pieces you wangle from the tin.
Watch my Mohanthal and Dhilo Mohanthal video to see how I cut my Indian sweets neatly and evenly.
What should I do with scraps and broken Mohanthal?
Gather up any leftover scraps from the tin and roll it into a laddoo. Of course, this is also a good way to salvage any broken Mohanthal that didn’t quite make it out of the tin in one piece.
My Mohanthal-making equipment (contains affiliate links)
20cm x 25cm x 10cm-deep (8" x 10" x 4"-deep) non-stick baking tin or 23cm (9") square. You can also use a 30cm round thali (at least 7cm deep) if you prefer.
For the Dhrabo (this is the bit that ensures your Mohanthal has those essential crunchy pieces):
For the Mohanthal:
90gfull-fat milk powder
1 1/2tspground mace
A pinch of orange food colouroptional
For the sugar syrup:
400ggranulated white sugar
To make the "Dhrabo":
Place the chickpea flour in a large bowl. Add the melted ghee and milk. Stir well and then begin to rub the mixture together using your fingertips to form a sandy-texture. This similar to how you would rub butter with flour to create a crumble. Set this aside for 30 minutes. This mixture will give the Mohanthal its' distinct grainy texture.
Sift the "Dhrabo" mixture through the fine-mesh sieve to remove large lumps. You may need to do this in stages. Don't skip this step, it's really important to ensure the mixture is thoroughly sifted so the final texture of the Mohanthal is correct.
To cook the "Dhrabo":
Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based pan. Add the "Dhrabo" and stir well to incorporate. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture turns from a creamy beige colour to pinkish and caramel-like in colour. This should take 8-10 minutes depending on the level of heat. Don't stop stirring the mixture at any point.
As soon as the mixture becomes a light pinkish colour, switch the heat off. Continue to stir for a further five minutes to temper the residual heat. The mixture will be extremely hot and it will continue to cook even after you switch the heat off. This is why it's important to switch the cooker off as soon as it begins to turn caramel-like in colour. Watch my video to see these stages. Add the milk powder and stir well to combine. Allow the mixture to cool slightly while you make the sugar syrup.
To make the sugar syrup:
Place the sugar in a large pan. Add the water and stir to combine. Once the mixture comes to a boil and the sugar has dissolved, fit the pan with a sugar thermometer. If you're using a digital thermometer, theres no need to affix it to the pan. Don't stir the sugar syrup any more.
Allow the sugar syrup to reach a temperature of exactly 115°C/239°F and then switch the heat off.
To flavour the Mohanthal:
To the slightly cooled chickpea flour and milk powder mixture, add ground cardamom, saffron, mace and optional orange food colour. Stir well to incorporate.
Very carefully, pour the hot sugar syrup into the chickpea flour mixture. Slowly begin the stir the mixture using a wooden spoon. After 2-3 minutes of stirring, it will become shiny and lava-like in appearance. The Mohanthal should have a distinct graininess which is what makes it so delicious. It is now ready to serve as Dhilo Mohanthal (loose/liquid Mohanthal).
To set the Mohanthal:
Pour or ladle the liquid Mohanthal into a tin 20cm x 25cm x 10cm-deep (8" x 10" x 4"-deep) non-stick baking tin or 23cm (9") square. You can also use a 30cm round thali (at least 7cm deep) if you prefer. Flatten the top using a spatula and then sprinkle over some slivered almonds and pistachios.
Allow the Mohanthal to cool to room temperature. This can take several hours.
Once cooled, cover the tin with cling film and refrigerate for 12 hours or until completely set.
Remove the tin from the fridge and allow to sit on the counter top for 30 minutes before cutting into pieces. I like to cut mine into approximately 2.5cm/1-inch squares using a sharp knife. If you want to be super accurate, you can score the top to create a guide before cutting all the way through. Watch the recipe video to see how I use a plastering trowel and cake scraper for super-sharp cutting.
Enjoy the Mohanthal at room temperature, cold or hot.
To reheat set Mohanthal for Dhilo Mohanthal:
Place a 2.5cm/1-inch square of Mohanthal into a microwave-safe bowl. Add 2 tbsp water and microwave on high power in 15 second bursts until liquid. Stir at every interval to distribute the heat evenly. Allow to cool before eating as it will be extremely hot!
It’s normal for butter to rise to the top of the set Mohanthal. This may turn opaque upon chilling. This was a highly-coveted result in more traditional times because many people didn’t have fridges to preserve their mithai. The layer of fat will help keep this Mohanthal fresh for weeks when stored (covered) in the fridge.
Store the Mohanthal in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a month.