Monday 20 October 2014

Cashew Burfi (முந்திரிப்பருப்பு பர்பி)

Deepavali (தீபாவளி) is a festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil. According to mythology, this day marks the slaying of Demon Narakasura by Lord Krishna. People wear new cloths, eat sweets, burst crackers, visit friends & relatives and offer prayers at temples. With the advent of satellite telecasting, watching special programs on the television has become an essential part of Deepavali celebrations.

During my childhood days, Deepavali preparations started a week early. Sweets and savories were prepared at home. Wheat halwa (கோதுமை அல்வா), jangiri (ஜாங்கிரி), laddu (லட்டு), mixture (மிக்சர்), murukku (முறுக்கு) and thenkuzhal (தேன்குழல்) were invariably made for the festival. On the day of Deepavali, it was customary to make vellaiyappam (வெள்ளையப்பம்) and okkaarai (ஒக்காரை). As everyone was busy snacking sweets and savories during the festival day, my grandmother would make ‘Deepavali Marunthu’ (தீபாவளி மருந்து) to help ease the digestion. 

Well, in this modern era of fast life, people tend to buy deepavali sweets from the various packages available in the sweet stalls. If nothing else, ready-to-make gulab jamun mix is available in the eternal ‘buy one-get one free’ offer! Nonetheless, I felt like sharing couple of sweet recipes for the festival. Making sweets is not difficult, once you understand a few pointers – quantity of ingredients (அளவு), consistency of sugar syrup (பாகு) and perfect timing (பதம்). Let us see how to make cashew burfi. Make no mistake; this is not ‘Kaju katli’, but a different sweet!  This burfi has the underlying taste of cashew nuts and it just melts in your mouth.  
Fig.1: String consistency

Ingredients: (Makes approximately 20 pieces)
Cashew nuts – broken, 1 tumbler or 200ml measure (50 Gms)
Sugar – 2½ tumblers or 500ml measure
Bengal gram flour/ besan – 1 tumbler or 200ml measure
Ghee – ½ tumbler or 100ml measure
Condensed milk – 1 tablespoon

Method: Grind cashew nuts with ¼ tumbler (50ml) of water into a fine paste using the mixer-grinder. Keep aside. Grease a deep tray with little ghee and keep it ready.

Mix one tumbler (200ml) of water and sugar in a kadai and heat on medium flame, stirring continuously. Sugar will melt, boil and thicken to form syrup. Reduce the fire and continue to stir the syrup. Check the consistency of sugar syrup every now and then, till it reaches ‘string consistency’ (கம்பிப் பாகு).

How to check the consistency of sugar syrup: Place a drop of the syrup on a plate and let it cool. Touch the syrup with your index finger and press it with your thumb. Then separate the fingers. If the syrup stretches as a thick string between the fingers, it has reached the right ‘string consistency’ (கம்பிப் பாகு). See Figure 1.

At this stage add cashew paste and mix well. The mixture will have a smooth consistency after adding the paste. Now add in the condensed milk. Mix well. Then add Bengal gram flour slowly using a tea filter, while stirring continuously (See Fig.2). Add a tablespoon of flour in the tea filter and shake it gently over the kadai using your left hand, while stirring with your right hand. If you find it difficult to manage both the activities, take help from somebody else!

Fig.2: Add Bengal gram flour using a tea filter
After you add the entire quantity of Bengal gram flour, the mixture will have a smoother, but thicker consistency (Fig.3). 

Fig.3: Mixture has a smoother, but thicker consistency after adding flour
Now start adding ghee 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring continuously. Use up the ghee fully. You will find the mixture getting thicker as you keep cooking and bubbles will appear on the surface (Fig.4). 

Fig.4: Mixture bubbles up and separates from the sides of the kadai
Remove a little quantity of the mixture and let it cool on a plate. It solidifies on cooling and will crumble easily when pressed. At this stage, you will also find the mixture coming off easily from the sides of the kadai (Fig.4). This is the correct consistency. Switch off the stove and transfer the contents QUICKLY to the greased plate (Fig.5). 

Fig.5: Mixture transferred to a greased tray and cut into smaller pieces
Smear little ghee at the bottom of katori (flat bottomed cup) and use it to press the poured sweet evenly. Let the sweet cool for 5 minutes. Cut the sweet into smaller pieces using a kitchen knife as shown in the image above (Fig.5). Allow the sweet cool to room temperature. Remove the sweet pieces and store them in an air-tight container. Your cashew burfi is ready!

Cashew Burfi (முந்திரிப்பருப்பு பர்பி)
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