Meeting Some Foodie Friends & A Recipe : Besan-Coconut Burfi - Chickpea Flour-Coconut Indian Style Fudge
As Akshaya is having her summer vacation, we decided that we needed a short break and headed for Mumbai. Mumbai was rather hot (as are many other places in India right now, including Goa) and not exactly the place for a holiday, but we managed to pack in visiting some family and shopping. How can one go all the way to Mumbai and not shop?
Harini's directions led me to a bookshop where I found some good books at bargain prices. Only a lack of time prevented me from finding some more. She also pointed me to a baking supplies store where I was so happy to find lots of stuff I had been looking for, I felt a bit like a kid in a candy store!
One of the highlights of our trip turned out to be meeting up with Harini and Simran. This almost didn't happen as co-ordinating our schedules to meet together (not easy in a city like Mumbai where getting from one place to another takes up a large part of the day) took a bit of working out.
We finally met and spent some time over some shortbread cookies, pasta and spring rolls. We then said our byes (with promises to meet again) as we all had other commitments soon afterwards (and a couple of husbands whiling away their time waiting for us to finish!)
And now to the food part of this post. This burfi (or fudge-like Indian confection) is something I have been making for years now. I usually make about twice the given recipe as I tend to make this sweet, sometimes for a festive occasion, but mostly to gift to family or friends as this burfi is easy to pack and transport.
This besan-coconut burfi tastes somewhat like a mysorepak made with coconut but uses a lot less ghee. It is not very difficult to make, but what is critical and determines the texture of the burfi is being able to judge when exactly to pour the burfi mixture onto the greased tin/ plate.
If the mixture is not thickened enough at this point, the result will be a chewy burfi which doesn't quite set. If the mixture is overcooked, then the burfi becomes dry and a bit hard.
The correct point to transfer the cooked mixture to the greased cake tin or plate would be when the ghee has been completely absorbed and the mixture starts curling away from the sides of the pan, when stirred. This results in a burfi which sets well, is neither too soft nor hard and isn't chewy.
This burfi recipe is slightly adapted from The Vegetarian Menu Cookbook by Vasantha Moorthy
- Heat 1 tbsp of ghee (or clarified/ browned unsalted butter). Fry the broken cashewnuts in it till they turn golden brown. Remove them from the ghee and keep aside. To the same ghee, add the chickpea flour (besan) and roast, over medium heat, till the flour loses its raw smell and a nutty aroma emanates. Do not brown the flour.
- In a deep and thick/ heavy bottomed pan, heat 1 cup of water and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves and allow to boil, over medium heat, till a thick syrup (one string consistency) is obtained. Turn off the heat.
- Now add the grated coconut and the Roasted chickpea flour (besan) and stir well till everything is well mixed. Put the pan with the mixture back on the fire, over medium heat, and keep stirring constantly. The mixture will start thickening and start curling away from the sides of the pan. This stage is crucial for the making of this burfi/ fudge.
- Add the remaining 2 tbsp ghee, and keep stirring till the ghee is absorbed. Add the fried cashewnuts and the cardamom powder and take off the fire. Mix well and quickly pour the mixture into a well greased 7" by 7" cake tin (or cookie sheet with 1 1/2" sides), ensuring the mixture is leveled. Allow to cool a bit, and mark into squares while it is still warm.
- Allow to cool completely, and store the burfi/ fudge in containers. This recipe makes about 20 small squares.