Monday, December 28, 2009

Making burfi at home

is possible!

These days, it is fairly easy to find almost any kind of Indian food here in the United States - a lot of Indian vegetables, spices, condiments and snacks are available. However one thing that is nearly impossible to get is good mithai, the kind you get in India. In terms of quality, variety, freshness, and accessibility, what we have here is light years apart from what one would find 'back home'.

So it was only natural that some of us were driven to try and recreate some things at home. One thing I tried many times and failed miserably at was burfis, and that is because one of the main ingredients for it is often fresh khoya (also called mawa or khawa), which is made by evaporating milk to a point where all liquid has evaporated and only the milk solids remain behind. In India, one can practically walk to a corner sweet store to purchase some freshly made khoya as needed. Things have improved ever so gradually over the years here, and we can now buy khoya in the refrigerated section, though the date of manufacture is usually unknown, and the origin could be several hundred miles away. Despite all that, I went ahead and bought a block of khoya recently because I really wanted to try Tartlette's Cardamom Mava Cakes, but didn't want to go through the trouble of making the mava. The cakes are lovely and I made them twice, but I had a lot of remaining khoya.

I went in search of recipes to use it up, and zoomed in on a Badam Burfi, in a Marathi book called "DiwALI ANI saNAsudiche padArth", written by Mangala Barve. The recipe sounded a bit simplistic to be true, but it actually worked quite well. It tasted delicious, creamy and rich. Here is the adapted version of the original recipe.

With this post I end the year on a sweet note, and also wish my little space a rather belated third bloggiversary!

Badam (Almond) Burfi

Almond Burfi / Badam Burfi


25 grams almonds
250 grams khoya/mawa/khawa
1 teaspoon ghee
1/2-3/4 cup of sugar
5-6 pods of green cardamom
a few strands of saffron (optional)
a few slivered almonds (optional)


Soak the almonds in a bowl of water for 2-6 hours. Peel them, and process them finely in a food processor.

Peel the cardamom pods and powder them in a mortar and pestle.

Process the khoya in a food processor until it has completely crumbled.

In a wide pan or wok heat half the ghee just until it melts, and add the khoya to it until it starts to soften. Do not let it get brown. Add in the almond powder and sugar and stir everything together for a few minutes on low heat. Add the cardamom powder and saffron strands. The mixture will have the consistency of a thick paste.

Grease a small pan (about 6 inch square in size) with the remaining ghee, and pour the khoya mixture in it. Using an offset spatula, spread it in to one even layer. Top with additional slivered almonds, and press them firmly. Let it set and then chill it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours till it gets firm. Cut it into shapes of your choice and remove from the pan.

You can bring the burfi to room temperature before eating.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Apple Cake "Tatin"

Slightly Light Version

Ina Garten's recipe for Apple Cake "Tatin" is just perfection. A scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side doesn't hurt a bit. I really don't need to say anything more, but I'll add a few small notes:

1. Pull the caramel off the heat as soon as it hits warm amber, even if it isn't at 360 degrees, because even a few seconds can make a difference.

2. Make sure the caramel layer is completely cool before adding the batter on top.

Mine was just shy of getting bitter because of these two reasons, but the overall taste was a winner regardless.

Apple Cake "Tatin"

I halved the recipe and it still served 6 decent sized slices. I also used slightly drained yogurt instead of sour cream. Hence, light. See?

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Shevayachi Kheer

Vermicelli Pudding

During a recent pantry raid, I found a small jar of shevaya, also called semiya or sevia (in Hindi, Gujarati). These are labled as "vermicelli", but these are the Indian type, and much better suited to using in sevia pulao, upma, and of course kheer. Incidentally, vermicelli pasta works well too, if crumbled into small bits.

Made by toasting shevaya in a bit of ghee, and cooking them in milk, shevayachi kheer was never really considered a dessert when I grew up, but it always appeared during certain occasions that demanded a more formal meal, usually served on the left side of the plate in a small amount. Typically, we did not have the course style eating where dessert was served as the last course anyway, so I don't ever recall sitting with a bowl of it after a meal, but on a cold night recently, I did exactly that, and wondered aloud why I didn't make this more often. It is so easy and quick, and so good to eat.

Every once in a while, when one needs a comforting homey dessert, this one fits the bill perfectly.

Vermicelli Kheer

Shevayachi Kheer

Serves 2-3 small dessert portions


1/2 teaspoon ghee
1/2 cup shevaya (or broken vermicelli)
2-3 cups milk (see Note at end)
2-3 pods of green cardamom
5-6 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons golden raisins
2 Tablespoons slivered almonds


In a medium sized pan heat the ghee, just enough until it forms a thin film on the bottom of the pan. Add the shevaya and stir them until they start to get golden brown. Add the milk, and when it comes to a boil, bring the heat down so that the milk simmers and reduces for about 15-20 minute.

In the meanwhile, powder the cardamom pods in a mortar and pestle.

Add the sugar and continue to cook for a few minutes more. Add the cardamom powder towards the end, along with the raisins and almonds.


If you intend to serve or eat the kheer soon after it is made, then use 2 cups of milk, but if making ahead by several hours, then increase the quantity of milk, as the shevaya will continue to absorb the milk and thicken the kheer. Ask me how I know.

You can add a bit of saffron if you like, but I prefer the singular flavor of cardamom in this kheer.
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