Saturday, February 23, 2013

Red Carpet Nariyal Burfi

A friend of ours is hosting an Oscars viewing party tomorrow and I decided to bring something Oscar themed. I started by reviewing all the nominations, because we haven't been to the movies in ages and I know next to nothing about the films nominated—Brave is the only nominated film that we've actually seen, and I don't think haggis would receive a very enthusiastic welcome at the party.

A couple of films, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, started me thinking about Persian and Middle Eastern dishes. We're hosting supper club in April with a Middle Eastern theme and I thought I could try out a couple of dishes for tomorrow. I was thinking of trying ash-e-jow, an Iranian/Persian barley soup.

But then I learned we'll be going out for a meal before the Oscars start and I decided to focus on a dessert or snack-y food and settled on nariyal burfi—also called nariyal vadi, nariyal barfi, or khobra pak. Think of it as coconut fudge. Since Life of Pi  is nominated and nariyal burfi is a common sweet throughout India (and I recently returned from India), I thought it sounded good.

I don't usually like super-sweet sweets, so I cut the sugar called for from the inspiration recipes in about half. I also swapped unsweetened coconut for the sweetened coconut some recipes called for—I figured if some were calling for freshly grated coconut, it probably didn't need to be sweetened. The result is still plenty sweet, but not cloyingly so. I could see adding some cocoa powder if I make this again. Combining coconut and chocolate makes sense, though I'm not certain how I would like cardamom and cocoa.

Hang on—I have some Dutch dark chocolate cocoa powder in the pantry and dipped a burfi ball in it to check—tastes fine, not really chocolatey, but it does temper some of the sweetness and makes the overall flavor more complex.

Nariyal burfi—Coconut fudge

Nariyal Burfi

Total time: (I forgot to keep track) 1–1½ hours

    3 cups shredded coconut—fresh or unsweetened dry
    1½ cans (14-ounce size) of sweetened condensed milk (450 ml in the measuring cup)
    ¼ cup sugar
    4 Tbsps ghee (if you can't find ghee at the store, you can make it yourself—it is essentially clarified butter)
    1 Tbsp ground cardamom
    1 cup slivered almonds

  1. Heat a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat; add the coconut, condensed milk, and sugar, and mix well. Cook until the condensed milk is reduced by about one-quarter and the mixture has a fudge-like consistency.
  2. Add the ghee and mix well. Cook until the ghee begins to separate from the mixture.
  3. Add the ground cardamom, mix thoroughly and remove from heat.
  4. Grease a 9X9 pan (a spritz on non-stick will do, or smear on some leftover ghee if you have any), transfer the mixture to the pan and smooth out. Sprinkle the surface with the almonds.

  5. Allow to cool a little and cut into squares while still warm.

  6. I may have a few OCD tendencies.

  7. Allow it to set, then remove from pan and store in an air-tight container.

So, you may notice my burfi are not squares. That's because I did not not allow them to set before trying to remove them from the pan. So I ended up rolling them into balls.

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