Trinidad kurma is a deep-fried Indian treat made with flour, butter and spices and coated with a spiced syrup.
Much like gulab jamoon, kurma is made especially for Divali, the Hindu festival of lights.
Lucky for us, kurma has become so popular in Trinidad and Tobago that it is now a popular street snack that can be found everywhere.
Kurma and Khurma
Let’s get to the semantics.
In India, especially North India (where the majority of the Indo-Caribbean people came from), khurma is made very much like Trini kurma – though there may be some differences in its shape.
In other parts of India, there are other variations of kurma called shankarpali, shakarpara, laktho and lakdi mithai.
Manali from cookwithmanali explained the nuances between shakarpara and khurma. Shakarpara is sweetened before frying; whereas, with kurma, the syrup (paag) is added after.
She also mentioned namakpara – a spicy spinoff to khurma without the sugar. Instead, it contains black pepper, ajwain, and cumin seeds. Sounds interesting! Check out Dassana’s recipe for more.
How to Make Trini Kurma
So, with everything in Trini cooking, there is no one fixed recipe for kurma. Everyone has their own version. My mother-in-law has a nice one with coconut milk and my mom has a unique, crunchy one (I’ll post that recipe soon).
Here’s how my mother-in-law makes her kurma.
- brown coconut (and water)
- cinnamon powder
- cardamom (elychee) powder
- fresh ginger
- oil for frying
Steps for making Trinidad kurma
Since she uses coconut milk to make her kurma, making fresh milk is the very first step.
All you have to do is extract the coconut meat, blend with a little water (250 mL should be enough) and strain.
Save the strained coconut bits for another recipe, bag and freeze for another day, or throw it in your garden.
Next, mix the flour, cinnamon and cardamom powder together.
Rub the ghee into the dry ingredients until the mixture becomes crumbly (similar to making pastries).
Incorporate the grated ginger at this point then add the coconut milk and knead. The dough should be smooth but not overly soft (think roti dough before resting).
Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of these steps. Whoops!
Rolling Out the Kurma Dough
You don’t need to leave the dough to rest. You can work with it immediately.
Divide the dough into four large dough balls.
Using your rolling pin, roll out one of the dough balls until it is an eighth of an inch thick. Rolling it thinner is perfectly fine too.
Using a small sharp knife, cut the rolled dough into two- or three-inch strips. The width of the strips will be based on your preference.
Next, cut each strip further into half an inch pieces of kurma.
Lay the cut pieces individually onto a large surface. Doing this will ensure your kurma maintains its shape.
You don’t want the pieces to fall one on top the other – they will stick together.
Place a large pot on medium heat. Allow to heat up before adding oil to the pot. It should be enough to completely deep fry the kurma.
When the oil is sufficiently hot, add the sweet. Don’t overcrowd.
After a minute or two, turn the pieces to make sure each kurma cooks evenly and develops a nice golden brown color.
Each batch can take about 10 to 15 minutes to fry.
Remove from the oil and allow to cool.
Make the sugar glaze
We call the sugar glaze – paag or phaag. It is the Hindi word for syrup.
To make it, add water and sugar to a pot and simmer on low heat. At this point, you can add other spices to the syrup like ginger, cardamom powder, and cinnamon powder.
Stir the syrup often until it becomes frothy and develops threads. This can take about 20 minutes and you should see sugar crystals reforming on the sides of the pot. That’s when you know it’s ready.
Pour the paag over the cooled kurma and toss to evenly coat the kurma pieces. You have to move quickly while the syrup is still hot and liquid. But, be careful! Syrup burns are the worst.
Once the kurma is coated with the paag, you can add milk powder or icing sugar and toss again. The powder will melt into the sugar and create a bright white coating on the sweet Indian delicacy.
That’s all there is to it.
Trinidad Kurma Recipe
Trinidad Kurma (With Coconut Milk)
- 5 cups flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp cardamom (elychee) powder
- 2 tbsp ghee
- ½ tsp fresh ginger (grated)
- 1 brown coconut
- water (about 250 mL)
- oil for frying
- ¾ cup water
- 2 cups sugar
- ½ tbsp ginger
- ¼ tsp cardamom (elychee) powder
- milk powder (optional)
- icing sugar (optional)
- Crack the coconut.
- Remove the coconut flesh.
- Add to blender with water and blend until smooth.
- Strain and set aside.
- Mix flour, cinnamon and cardamom powder together.
- Rub ghee into the dry ingredients until it becomes crumbly.
- Mix in the grated ginger.
- Add coconut milk and knead to form a smooth dough.
- Divide dough into four equal parts.
- Roll each part out using a rolling pin until it is an eighth of an inch thick.
- Cut into two-inch (or three-inch) strips.
- Cut each strip further into half an inch pieces.
- Place a large pot on medium heat.
- After five minutes, add enough oil to deep fry the kurma (should be about 3 inches from the base of the pot).
- Allow the oil to heat up.
- Add kurma to the oil without overcrowding otherwise the pieces will stick to each other.
- Stir often so the pieces develop a golden brown color.
- Remove from the oil when it reaches the desired color (could take 10 to 15 minutes).
- Leave to cool.
- Add a small pot on the stove set to low heat.
- Add water and sugar.
- Stir to dissolve.
- Add optional spices like grated ginger, cardamom powder, cinnamon powder, etc.
- Simmer for about 20 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy, sugar threads develop and sugar recrystalizes on the sides of the pot.
- Spoon the syrup onto the kurma.
- Toss the kurma quickly and carefully to ensure even coating.
- Add a few tablespoons of milk powder or icing sugar and toss again.
- Allow to cool before serving.