Monday, 25 February 2013

Australian interpretation of Indian barfi/burfee: Chai and Coconut flavour

Finally, a sweet recipe! Please pardon my predominant savoury tooth.

I have some very fond memories of the four weeks I spent in Punjab, India this time last year. We attended some friends' weddings and I ate everything. I mean everything. I thought I knew what Indian food was - boy was I wrong!

I developed a particular appreciation for masala chai and coconut barfi while over there. Unfortunately neither of these things did much for my waistline, as sugary sweetness is a very important feature of the flavour. I put on about a kilo for every week I was there (worth it!).

Once back in Australia, I visited my local Indian grocer and started asking questions about how I could emulate the flavours I'd fallen in love with. He sent me off with a few ingredients - the most prized of which has been this amazing chai powder:

All you do is make a normal cup of tea with your average teabag, add milk, half a teaspoon of T-Plus, and a teaspoon of sugar or sweetener of your choice.

As far as I can tell, "masala" means mixed, and this powder is a mixture of aniseed, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and clove. Don't let the aniseed part put you off - my husband is a liquorice nazi and still adores a nice cup of chai.

The closest Western thing I can compare barfi to is a no-bake slice. I can tell you, if you like sweet chai and coconut, you will like this slice.

I make no claims as to its authenticity! I'm sure it's not even close to the traditional recipe or ingredients. This is just me playing with the flavours I loved so much.

You will need:

  • 3 tblsp ghee
  • 3 tblsp Copha
  • 1/4 cup Natvia (or sweetener of your choice)
  • 1 1/2 cups of dessicated coconut
  • 1/2 cup thickened cream
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of T-Plus Masala chai powder (ask your local Indian grocer)
  • Optional: 40g of shelled, unsalted pistachios, blitzed up in a food processor.

Masala Funtimes:

Using your favourite non-stick saucepan, melt the Copha, ghee, and Natvia over a medium heat. Both fats are quite heat stable, so they will take a bit to go to liquid.

Add the coconut and make sure it's all evenly mixed through. Add the T-Plus powder, and it should look a little like mushed-up Weet Bix:

Take it off the heat at this point and mix the cream through. You won't need the hotplate again.

Pistachio option: give your pistachios a good run in the food processor. No need to make the meal too fine. I left a few chunks for interest. It looked like this:

Go ahead and mix the pistachios through. It'll add a bit of a green tinge to the mix.

Line a slice tin with baking paper, dump the mixture in, and press it out with the back of a spoon. Go for a minimum depth of 1cm.

It's ready to cut up into little squares after 20 minutes in the freezer. You can eat it now, or leave it overnight to settle in the fridge. The finished texture should be similar to a soft Anzac biscuit. If it's overly fatty or solid, you've put too much copha or ghee in.

Carb Count:

The entire batch works out at about 19g of carbohydrate. I chopped mine up into 16 pieces, meaning that each piece worked out at slightly more than 1 carb each. Great news for people like me who really don't count anything else.

Unfortunately, if you're counting calories as well, this dessert isn't such good news, with the entire batch worth 2,110 calories, and each piece (if cut into 16) coming in around 132 calories.

Makes a lovely morning tea with a cup of whatever hot drink you like.

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