Storified by Arya McLean· Tue, Apr 16 2013 17:50:45
A dessert popular in West Bengal, Mihidana is originally from the Bardhaman district. It is basically made of gram flour or besan mixed with water to make watery dough that is passed through a sieve and deep-fried in clarified butter or ghee and soaked in sugar syrup. The result is a fine long sweet and crispy treat that can be garnished with finely chopped dried fruits of your choice like raisins or prunes. This is an indepensable treat in India and West Bengal even got a patent in making the sweet.
Mihidana comes from two words, mihi, which means ‘fine,’ and dana, which means ‘grain,’ so mihidana literally translates to “fine grains.” The key ingredient in this gourmet cooking recipe is the gram flour, also known as besan. Besan or gram flour is a ground, dried chickpea that is a staple ingredient in Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi cooking. Also known as chickpea flour, chickpea lentil flour, or garbanzo flour, besan is high in protein and is free of gluten. It is used in making falafels and Indian fritters as a batter to coat vegetables, meats or fish. It is also added in curries and sauces as a thickener. Besan is finely ground like flour and not coarse. The roasted variety gives the dish a rich and nutty taste. In India, chhola or chana is the term used for gram that has not been ground to a fine powder and is in its raw condition.
The process of making mihidana starts with a batter of besan and water until a liquid paste is formed. Obtaining the right consistency is very important; it should be fluid enough to pass through a sieve and make noodle-like shapes but still be solid enough so as to form the structure without making a soggy mess. The batter should fall into the hot boiling oil drop by drop.