Diwali is almost here again, and I’ve made my list of sweets and savouries to make this season. As I have mentioned before, I have set myself a tradition of making all the Diwali fare at home. This means a little more effort but it worth the while as far as I am concerned. Naturally, my list always includes a few sweets that are very easy to make. This Maida Cake or Maida Burfi is one such sweet.
An Indian Burfi can perhaps be likened to Fudge at best but it’s not quite the same. This is because an Indian Burfi can range from melt-in-the-mouth soft to slightly harder in texture. Indian Burfi can be made with a wide variety of ingredients including dried fruit and nuts, vegetable like carrot or pumpkin, lentils, flours or milk. They are rich and usually full fat milk and a lot of ghee. The texture of the Burfi depends on the cooking of the sugar syrup. It is getting this consistency of sugar syrup that makes a really good Burfi.
Maida Cake or Maida Burfi is easy on the beginner that way. You start by pan roasting the maida, which is an Indian word for all-purpose flour, in ghee. This is important to rid the flour of its raw smell and develop flavour. Then the sugar is dissolved in water and cooked to a one-string consistency. The pot is taken off the heat and the ghee roasted flour is mixed in with flavour and colour of choice. The heat of the pan and the sugar syrup is enough to further cook and thicken the mixture to a fudge like consistency. This is poured into a greased tray, scored into pieces while still warm, and allowed to set. Ta-daa! The Maida Cake or Maida Burfi is ready.
It’s a great Indian sweet to cook when you need to make something and you’re short on time. The ingredients are all commonly found in an Indian pantry. You need all-purpose flour, sugar, ghee and cardamom. Anything else is a flavour or colour addition. This Burfi can be made ahead to serve as a sweet something after a meal, or anytime a sweet tooth kicks in. It’s perfect to make for festive occasions.
The sugar syrup for this Burfi is typically made with just sugar and water. I prefer to add a little milk to the mix for added flavor. Many recipes use vanilla to flavor the Burfi. This probably is why this also goes by the name of Maida Cake, apart from its soft texture. I prefer using cardamom and saffron. You could however flavor it with any extract of your choosing and a food colour that matches. So apple and green, yellow and mango or pineapple, cocoa powder for chocolate, etc. You could also add finely chopped nuts if you prefer.
Maida Cake or Maida Burfi
- 2 cups maida/ all-purpose flour
- 2/3 cup ghee
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/3 cup milk
- A few strands of saffron
- 6 to 8 pods cardamom powdered
- Generously grease a steel plate or baking tray (about 7” by 11” should do) with 2 inch edge with ghee and keep aside.
- Sieve the flour and pan roast it over a low flame till the flour loses its raw smell. Do not brown. Melt the ghee in a largish thick bottomed pot. Add the sieved and pan roasted flour to it. Mix well and pan roast it again, on a slow flame for about 5 minutes or so till you get a nutty aroma but do not brown it. Transfer to a plate and keep aside.
- Put the sugar in the same pot with the milk and water and stir till it dissolves. Stir in the saffron. Let this cook, over medium heat, until the sugar syrup reaches one-string consistency. Put a drop on a cool plate. When tested between your thumb and first finger the slightly warm sugar syrup should form a stretchy string.
- Take the pan off the heat. Mix in the roasted ghee-flour mixture and powdered cardamom. If using other flavor or colour, add it at this point. Keep mixing till the mixture becomes smooth. As you keep mixing, the mixture will loosen up a bit and come together as a mass.
- If it forms a crumbly texture, this is because the sugar syrup has cooked beyond the desired consistency. Do not worry. Add a couple of tablespoons of water or milk to it and return the pot to the stove. Keep stirring and the mixture will loosen up and form the right consistency for pouring. Do not overcook at this point and pour the mixture onto the greased plate or tray.
- Working quickly, pour this onto the greased tray and tap on the counter gently to level it. Score into square or diamond shaped pieces with a sharp greased knife while still warm.
- Let it cool completely before cutting along scored lines. Store in an airtight container.