Saturday, June 04, 2016

Mango Kesar Burfi

Before I get on to the main thing, let me narrate a story about how I was interested in sweet making, especially burfi.

It was year 1964 and the month was May. I was just Seven year old boy then, and my only sister was getting married on the 24th. An expert sweet maker called 'Mithai Venkatesha' was hired by my father for making traditional sweets such as Besan Laddu, Besan Burfi(Khadi), Saat, Maalpuri and Mysore Pak, if not the savoury items like Sev, Tukdi and Banana Chips. Two days before the wedding, Venkatesha arrived at our home with his implements and established himself in the utility room at the back of the house. Loads of flour, tins of pure Agmark ghee and heaps of sugar, raisins and cashewnuts were indented from Kumble's shop in Bunder Mangalore. I called it a day and sat in a corner to watch Venkatesha in action. It was hot summer, sweat trickled down the pinkish red face of Venkatesha who patiently handled sweet making, taking care to maintain utmost hygiene. That's the beauty of traditional Mangalorean cooks. They are very meticulous!

Of all the sweets, I very well remember how he made besan laddus and besan khadi. The heat and smoke of wood fire made me intolerant and skip watching further. However, I noticed how he roasted besan or chickpea flour with ghee, how he mixed in cardamom powder, cashewnut bits and castor sugar to make besan burfi or khadi, which is the simplest burfi among Indian sweets.

Many years later, I tried my hands at making besan burfi and succeeded. I also made that adding pineapple juice to make Pineapple Khadi

Burfi is one of the most popular North Indian sweets. It is more famous as Bombay(Mumbai) Sweet, as expert sweet makers from Karachi, Gujarat, Rajasthan and UP have settled in Mumbai and they make awesome burfis and pedas. Burfi can be made with different flavours, adding fresh fruit pulp or dry fruits, mixing with milk solids like khova, milk powder and some flour like besan, refined flour or corn flour. Mango Burfi is essentially an invention by sweet makers of Mumbai. Today, Chitale Bandhu Mango Burfi from Pune is the best as per their claim online. When I saw the ad for Chitale Bandhu Mango Burfi on Facebook, I was tempted not to order that online, but to try my hand at making similar burfi at home!

Now is season for fresh mangoes, I thought of making Mango Burfi and checked for recipes online. I found one convincing, but that turned out to be a disaster, as the author has given wrong proportions of ingredients. I ended up making mango halwa instead of burfi!

Then I looked into more recipes, many seemed easy and convincing, but I didn't have the heart to try them, as I had failed with one recipe already. Meena said, burfi needs to be but soft not chewy, firm and easily cut into squares or diamonds without blunt edges. I logically deduced the ingredients for making burfi and tried my own method twice with slight changes, succeeding in getting the right texture and taste. Consistency wise the last attempt was better, and that was just perfect!

You can make this burfi softer or harder according to your liking. If you want it harder, add little more roasted besan or chickpea flour. You can also add little corn flour along with castor sugar to make them harder.

Few points to remember while making mango burfi:
1. Don't roast or fry the ingredients on high flame or char the contents.
2. Ratio of solids to liquids should be almost 4:1.
3. Don't add too much ghee or oil to burfi. It will change the consistency and makes the stuff chewy like halwa.
4. Don't fry the ingredients after you add powdered(Castor) sugar. Castor sugar helps in binding the burfi and allows the knife to cut through them while giving the burfis sharper edges.
5. Use best quality mango for making this burfi, such as Alphonso, Mallika or similar more pulpy, less fibrous and juicy variety.

The ingredients given in the list can be varied according to personal preference, but don't cut down on besan much. After you mix in besan, it blends well with the mango pulp, sugar and khova, giving a brittle consistency to the burfi, neutralising the stickiness within the mango pulp blended with sugar and khova, while it loses its typical aroma completely. I didn't add cashewnut bits, as I like the burfi with just mango taste and saffron flavour.
Chickpea flour(Besan) - 1/2 cup
Ghee - 3 teaspoons
Tiny Cashewnut Bits(Optional) - 1 Tbsp
Mango Pulp - 1/2 cup(Or approximately 100 Gms)
Crystal Sugar - 1/2 Cup(Adjust according to taste)
Castor Sugar - 1/4 Cup
Khova(Mawa) - 200 Gms(approx 1 cup crumbled)
Saffron - A pinch soaked in 2 Tsp hot milk
Crushed Cardamom Seeds(Optional) - 1/4 Tsp
Soft Burfis that need to be refrigerated after 3 days
Grease a 7" square baking tray or a 7" diameter stainless steel shallow plate for moulding burfi.
Crumble khova and keep aside.
Heat a thick bottom nonstick pan and melt 2 teaspoon ghee.
Add besan, reduce heat to medium low and roast well for 5-8 minutes, taking care not to burn the ingredients.
Add optional cashewnut bits, roast for one more minute and remove from heat, keep aside.
Wipe the wok clean with a kitchen cloth.
Heat the wok again, add one teaspoon ghee.
Add the mango pulp along with crystal sugar and keep stirring on medium flame until the pulp starts to thicken.
Reduce the heat and keep stirring for another 3-5 minutes, when the mango syrup gets as thick as jelly.
Add the crumbled khova and keep mixing on low flame.
As the mass starts to thicken again, add the saffron soaked in milk and stir well.
Keep mixing until you feel the ladle is not moving freely and the mass can be rolled into a firm ball.
Now add the roasted besan and mash the contents for 2-3 minutes using a paav bhaaji masher or a heavy churner, until the mass feels smooth and brittle like chapati dough.
Switch off the flame, mix in castor sugar and optional cardamom powder.
Collect the mass together and transfer into the greased burfi mould.
Pat with the ladle to spread the dough evenly.
Smoothen with a spoon to get an even surface.
Burfi spread should be at least 1/3 inch thick.
Allow to cool down for 10-15 minutes at room temperature.
Score(Make crisscross gashes) on the surface at equal distance to design almost 1 inch squares.
Allow the burfi to cool down completely.
Cut along the scored markings to get perfect burfis.
Store in an airtight container to consume over the next 7 days or more.
If the burfis are soft, store them in the fridge after 3 days.
Hard Burfis that can be kept at room temperature for a week


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