I had been wanting to make this since a long time and finally got a chance to make it during Holi-Dhuleti this year. It's a famous Gujarati sweet and usually is prepared for festivals and at many other occasions.
I made two batches of it - one on each day of the weekend. The first one turned out perfect but the secone one got messed up big time because I increased the portions and made some mistakes. But more on that later, first is the recipe that works! :)
1 ½ cups ghee
1 ½ cups chana besan flour
1 ½ cups sugar
¾ cups maavo
¾ cups water
4 tbsp milk (do not take any more than this)
3 tbsp ghee (do not take any more than this)
2 tsp cardamom powder
6-8 shredded almonds
6-8 shredded pistachio
1 tsp chaaroli/calumpong nut/cheronjee
Warm up the 4 tbsp of milk with 3 tbsp of ghee and add to the flour. Mix well and set aside for 15-20 minutes.
Shred the almonds and pistachio and set aside.
Shred the maavo to make crumbs and set aside.
Take a deep dish (I use stainless steel thaali) and brush it with ghee and set aside.
Take the flour that you had set aside earlier for 15-20 mins and mix it well to make it finer and sift the flour through a chaalni (sieve) (use the one that mainly used for wheat flour).
Put the ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and once melted, add the sifted flour. Let the flour turn golden or lighter shade of brown on a low-medium heat. Keep stirring in between. This usually takes about half an hour or more. Once the color of flour changes to light brown, add the maavo crumbs and stir well to mix them together for 3 minutes. Remove from the stove.
Chana besan being stirred on low heat
In another pot, take the sugar and water and heat to make syrup. Heat it enough so that when you put a drop on plate, it stays round and doesn’t spread (goli vale tya sudhi). (I had this prepared earlier when the flour was sitting around for 15-20 minutes and it got a bit hard so I had to reheat it with ¼ cup of water right before adding it to the flour.)
Add this syrup to the flour and mix it well. Add one tsp of cardamom powder in the flour, use the other tsp to sprinkle on top.
Pour the mix in the deep dish and set it. Remove the excess ghee, if you like. Sprinkle with the remaining cardamom powder, chaaroli (I didn’t have this so I skipped it), shredded almonds and shredded pistachio.
Mohan thaal set in a deepdish
Let it set for 10-15 minutes and then cut rectangular pieces with a sharp knife.
Note: at this point, you might have some excess ghee that comes up on the sides of the deepdish. You can remove it using a spoon and make use of it for some other sweets or strain it well and use it to spread on the roti/chapati/rotali, if you like.
Mohan thaal cut into rectangular pieces
Mohan thaal pieces
What not to do:
So for batch II, I had 2½ cups of flour and for that I took 6 tbsp of milk and 4-5 tbsp of ghee. This turned the flour into dough-like texture. Then by the time I was ready to sift the flour through the sieve, it would not go through as it was too gooie/sticky/dough-like. So then I was like "oh this isn't a problem, let me add some more flour" and I did. I kept doing that multiple times until I got all the flour/dough through the sieve. Well, this messed up the whole batch because by the time I poured out the final mixture with syrup mixed-in into a deepdish, the syrup started to separate from the flour and by the time the deepdish cooled down, the syrup turned into sugar crystals and sat at the bottom of the container as a layer. As you can imagine, it was not fun to even try out this mohan-thaal. My sweet mohan-thaal had been ruined royally... lesson learned: do not think more ghee and more milk make better sweets! :D
Moral of the story: the little bit of ghee and milk are supposed to be very small amounts compared to the amount of flour. They are not to be used to make dough of this flour, but more like to just moisten it slightly. If you feel that you've by mistake added more of it, add more flour right at that point and then let it the flour sit for 20 mins. Do not add more flour right before sifting it or while sifting it.
Mohan thaal batch 2