This is a traditional Indian sweet that I made for Diwali a few days back and it was well appreciated by the family.
Around Diwali, I reminisce about my own childhood memories of this festival with a huge smile. Diwali is about wearing new clothes, decorating the house with as many oil lamps as you can manage, eating a feast and then fireworks. A month prior to Diwali, the preparations for making our own rockets, flower pots and pencils would start. We had a real chemistry lesson patiently delivered by my father. We lived on a University campus and would always have competitions with neighbours. Now we all know better and it is good everyone is keeping away from fireworks because of pollution. The spiritual significance of Diwali is to try to distinguish the truth from lies, illumine our minds from darkness with light and realize the oneness of energy in all living beings. It is believed that the spirits of our ancestors return on the night of Diwali and the fireworks are an offering to their spirits.
There isn’t ever a dessert course in a traditional Indian cuisine. Sweets and other sweet things are served alongside and in some regional cuisines they are eaten at the start of a meal. It is good to have some of these sweet treats as part of your repertoire so you can create an authentic Indian dining experience.
1 and a ½ cups sugar (frozen is fine)
½ cup water
400ml evaporated milk
300g shredded coconut
1 tablespoon ghee and a little extra for greasing a small round baking tray
Heat a large non-stick sauté pan. Add the ghee and when it melts, fry the coconut on medium low heat for five minutes. Set aside.
Measure out sugar and water into the same pan and let the sugar dissolve. Stir well and let it simmer for a minute. Toss in the coconut and the evaporated milk.
Continue to stir on medium heat until it thickens and becomes fudgy. This should take about 35-45 minutes depending on the size and weight of your pan. Remove from heat but continue to stir for a minute afterwards.
Grease a 16 -18cm round pie pan (not too deep 2 or 3 centimetres high) or Indian style thali. Pour the coconut barfi into the prepared plate. When cool, cut into squares or diamond shapes. Place in refrigerator overnight for the barfi to set. Makes about 16 squares.