Festival Recipes, Indian, Sweets, Vegan

Roasted Cashewnut Burfi

Cashews, in the form of roasted salted nuts and burfis are highly addictive. Usually these are purchased from shops but making them at home is so easy and there is marked difference in taste. Making sweets at home using whole ingredients is a very rewarding and satisfying experience. The delicately nutty flavor of the cashews is enhanced in the homemade version, which is usually missing in the shop-bought versions. I highly recommend making this sweet at home and I think you will stop visiting the sweet shop and start making your own for festivals and when friends visit. It is much more tastier, flavorful, and economical too.
Some people think of cashewnuts as fattening. Please note that while cashewnuts are high in calories, they are rich in heart-friendly mono saturated fatty acids and soluble dietary fibers, vitamins, and minerals. For this sweet, I have used unrefined raw sugar. This is made from the sugarcane juice and has some minerals and nutrients. Refined sugar is devoid of all nutrients. So, if you have to eat some sweet anyway, rather than binging on empty/harmful calories, try to eat healthy homemade sweets, such as these.

Ingredients:
Cashewnut – 250 gm
Unrefined sugar – 1 cup/250 gm
Saffron/kumkuma poovu – 4-5 threads
Water – 1/2 cup
Ghee/Virgin coconut oil – 1 tsp

Preparation Time: 25 mins roasting time
Cooking time: 10 mins
Makes approximately 25 one-inch square pieces

Method:
It is best to oven roast the cashew nuts to roast them evenly. Since I do not use an oven, I used the traditional stove top method to roast the cashews. Add the cashews to a heavy bottomed vessel and dry roast until they turn golden. Turn off the fire and let them cool.
Use a mixer to powder them coarsely. I like to keep it coarse and not too fine. When you powder 250 gm roasted cashew nut, you get roughly 2-1/4 cups of cashew nut powder.
Take a wide plate and grease it lightly with ghee or virgin coconut oil. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed vessel, add water, saffron threads, and unrefined sugar. Stir occasionally and bring to boil. Cook until the sugar syrup reaches a one-thread consistency. To check this, dip the ladle in the syrup, take it out, blow into the syrup to cool it off a bit and while the syrup is still warm, touch a tiny portion of the syrup using your index finger. Try to stretch this drop of syrup on your index finger between your index finger and thumb. If it stretches for half a centimeter and forms thread and breaks beyond that, you are good to go.

Add the coarsely powdered cashew nuts to the syrup and stir. In about 5-6 minutes, you will the mixture swells up and thickens into a single mass when you move it using the ladle. It does not stick to the bottom of the wok. This means that it is time for you to transfer the cooked burfi into the greased plate that you have kept ready.

Pour the mixture on the greased plate. Tap to even out the surface using a rolling pin/potato masher/flattener. Use a knife to make horizontal and vertical divisions on the rolled out mixture. Let the mixture cool for about 10 mins.

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In a quick move, turn the plate with the mixture upside down onto a bigger plate.

Gently separate the individual pieces. Store in an airtight container. Stays good for a week.

I referred to Harini Prakash’s Tongue Ticklers to make this sweet. I have been a huge fan of Harini’s writing style and brilliant photographs since I first came across her web site. So, thanks to Harini for this detailed and flawless recipe.

Recipe courtesy: http://tongueticklers.com/2014/10/bhuja-hua-kaju-barfi-roasted-cashew-barfi/

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Everyday Simple Recipes, Festival Recipes, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, Snacks, South Indian, Sweets, Tiffin

Kesari Bath/Sooji Halwa

Kesari bath/sooji halwa is one of my favorite sweets. It is a common neivedyam (food offering made to God) and a sweet served along with breakfast at Palakkad Iyer weddings. It is made even when there is no special occasion but just to satisfy sweet craving or when you have unexpected guests. It can be made easily, does not consume time, and most people love it. The best kesari bath that I have had is at Iyer weddings and at the Juhu ISCKON temple. Mani’s Cafe (next to Palakkad Jn railway station) serves melt in the mouth kesari bath. Palakkad Iyers add a little bit of pacha karpooram (Borneo-Camphor/Kacha Karpoor) and this gives a nice smell and taste to the kesari bath. Yellow or red food color is also added to this recipe but I do not prefer this.

The traditional kesari is warm, greasy, soft, and has a melt in the mouth texture. It has oodles of ghee that adds to its taste yet it doesnt drip ghee. Many a times the amount of ghee is cut down in homemade variations of kesari bath. Water, ghee, and sugar proportions are critical to make the perfect kesari. Too much water, sugar, or ghee can spoil the taste and consistency of the kesari. Although I have seen my mother make this dish very often, I always get confused about the quantity of water to be used for this dish and for upma. I referred to this blog to make this recipe and my kesari came out just right.

Ingredients:
Rava (sooji/semolina) – 1 cup
Sugar – 1 cup (depending on your taste)
Ghee – 3/4 cup
Water – 2-1/2 cups (you can opt to add milk to this)
Saffron (Kesar) – 3-4 strands
Cashew/raisins/almond pieces – A few
Cardamom powder (elaichi) – 1/4 tsp
Pacha karpooram (borneo-camphor/kacha karpoor) – very little (optional)
Food color – optional

Method:
Add the saffron strands to a small cup of warm milk/water and keep aside. Add half a cup of ghee to a thick bottomed wok and let it melt in medium heat. Turn down the heat to minimum and add the cashews/raisins/almond pieces and roast until golden brown. Remove them from the ghee and keep it aside.

sooji halwaTo this ghee, add rawa and keep stirring until the rawa turns color to golden brown. This will take about 5-7 minutes. I like to roast the rawa to golden brown although it is sufficient to roast just until the rawa starts to change color. While roasting the rawa, boil water in a pan. If you are adding milk, ensure that you use 1 cup milk and 1-1/2 cups of water. Ensure that that amount of water and milk put together is not more than 3 cups. Turn down the heat and add this boiling water/milk to the rawa cautiously. Make sure that you stand a little away from the stove while doing this as it might splutter. Stir this and make sure there are no lumps. Cook this for about 2-3 minutes. When the rawa is cooked and the water/milk content reduced, add sugar and mix well. The sugar starts to melt and the mixture once again becomes a little watery. Cook until the mixture thickens and water content reduces. Add the remaining ghee and stir. Add cardamom powder, cashew/raisins/almond pieces, and saffron dissolved in milk/water.

I prefer to have kesari bath warm although you can refrigerate this and serve it cold also.

jaggery kesariP.S. (added July 14th) – I tried making kesari bath with jaggery instead of sugar and it turned out to be really nice. So had to share it with all of you. The method remains almost the same. Measuring jaggery can be slightly tricky and if you use blocks of jaggery, you will need to make a wild guess. One thing you can do is pound the jaggery blocks and measure it using the same cup you used to measure the rava. Water should be three times the quantity of rava used.

Ingredients:
Rava – 1 cup
Ghee – 3/4 cup
Jaggery – 1 cup
Water – 3 cups
Saffron (Kesar) – 3-4 strands
Cashew/raisins/almond pieces – A fistful
Cardamom powder (elaichi) – 1/4 tsp

Method:
Soak saffron in a tablespoon of warm water. Keep aside. Dissolve jaggery in three cups of water. Using a strainer, strain this mixture to remove any dirt. Keep this water-jaggery mixture on the stove on low fire. Meanwhile, pour ghee into a thick bottomed pan. Keep fire on low. Put the cashew, rasins and almond pieces into ghee and roast the dry fruits. Remove the dry fruits from ghee when they turn golden brown and keep aside. Note that if you are using almonds, you will need to either soak them in water for 3-4 hours or blanch them and then peel and cut into smaller pieces.

In the same thick bottomed pan, to the melted ghee, add rava and roast on low fire for 4-5 minutes until rava changes color to light brown. When the rava has lost its raw smell and you start getting a finely roasted smell, add the jaggery water mixture which is kept on low fire in the next stove. Stir and add the hot jaggery-water mixture. The mixture starts to bubble and thicken. Add the soaked saffron. Keep stirring until moisture content reduces and the mixture starts to leave the sides. At this stage, you could add one more tablespoon of ghee. This is entirely optional and adds more sin, glaze, and taste to the kesari bath. Add cardamom powder and roasted dry fruits. Mix well. Jaggery kesari bath is ready. This is slightly more healthier as compared to the sugar version.