8-cup Barfi (7-cup barfi- enlightened)

May 24, 2007 at 10:29 PM (almonds, channa/ gram, coconut, dishes by cuisine, dishes by main ingredient, India, legumes/pulses- whole or split, rice, seeds, sugars-sweets, various ground seeds, various nuts like me, wheat)

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    This is really a recipe for 7-cup barfi, a very popular Indian sweet with many different known formulas, all centering on the use of 7 cups of various ingredients. I like this one because every cup is a different thing, and I added another cup because I felt that the nuts, which are often included in the recipes, should be given their own cup; in short, I felt bad for them… 😦 

    Sort of… 🙂 the whole truth is that I was experimenting with my favorite 7-cup recipe and botched a batch that needed remedying: I had left out a cup of moong flour, not because I was out of stock- I wasn’t, but because I felt it a bit redundant to use two different bean-flours in one sweet. Plus, I wanted a nice, green-free colour…

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    So, to summarize: I had increased the nuts to one cup and omitted the moong flour. It didn’t work. Sue me. When the mixture was poured into a thali I had pools of unabsorbed ghee floating about. Ghee is far too precious of a substance to not be occupied somewhere… so, after staring into the pools for a while, looking at the room reflected in the depths, I thought of a possible solution: I roasted an eighth, non-legume ingredient (7th if the nuts aren’t counted- apparantly nuts don’t absorb ghee as well as starchy flours do!) and dumped the thali-contents back into the pan to re-heat and marry it to the new addition. Thankfully, it worked out splendidly, and I shall have no need now to keep searching for the best 7-cup barfi recipe out there, because the best one has 8 cups! 😉

    Here is an interesting excerpt from Wikipedia’s entry for the number 8 and its significance to Buddhist thought:

 The Dharmachakra, a Buddhist symbol, has eight spokes. The Buddha’s principal teaching — the Four Noble Truths — ramifies as the Eightfold Noble Path. In Mahayana Buddhism, the branches of the Eightfold Path are embodied by the Eight Great Bodhisattvas (Manjushri, Vajrapani, Avalokiteshvara, Maitreya, Kshitigarbha, Nivaranavishkambhi, Akashagarbha, and Samantabhadra). These are later (controversially) associated with the Eight Consciousnesses according to the Yogachara school of thought: consciousness in the five senses, thought-consciousness, self-consciousness and unconsciousness-‘consciousness’ (alaya-vijñana). The ‘irreversible’ state of enlightenment, at which point a Bodhisattva goes on ‘autopilot’, is the Eight Ground or bhūmi. In general, ‘eight’ seems to be an auspicious number for Buddhists, e.g., the ‘eight auspicious symbols’ (the jewel-encrusted parasol; the goldfish (always shown as a pair, e.g., the glyph of Pisces); the self-replenishing amphora; the white kamala lotus-flower; the white conch; the eternal (Celtic-style, infinitely looping) knot; the banner of imperial victory; the eight-spoked wheel that guides the ship of state, or that symbolizes the Buddha’s teaching). Similarly, Buddha’s birthday falls on the 8th day of the 4th month of the Chinese calendar.

    Also, an octopus has eight arms, a fallen 8 is a symbol for infinity, and 8 this will be after it is made and gone! 😀

8-cup Barfi

  • 1 C ghee (don’t you dare use anything else!)
  • 1 C sugar (I used white, but any dry sugar of your choice will work)
  • 1 C milk
  • 1 C raw almonds, skinned (soak almonds in hot water for an hour to easily remove the skin)
  • 1 C coconut, shredded (fresh, frozen or dried will work)
  • 1 C semolina
  • 1 C besan
  • 1 C brown rice flour (will white rice flour work you might ask? Possibly… probably. I like the added nutrition and fiber of brown rice, in certain cases.)
  • 1/2 t cardamom, whole seeds (elaichi)
  • a few strands of saffron, crushed
  • a pinch of salt

1)Blop two spoons of the ghee in a large cooking vessel (I used a wok) and set it over medium-low flame. Smear a bit of ghee on a thali and set aside.

2)Combine the sugar with the milk in a small sauce-pan and set it over low heat, stir occasionally until it just comes to a boil and the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and sprinkled the crushed saffron threads and the salt over it and set aside.

3)Simultaneously, add the nuts to the hot ghee and fry, turning constantly, until fragrant and golden-brown. Remove to a bowl.

4)Fry/toast the coconut in the same pan, using the ghee that remains in the pan which was used for the almonds, turning constantly, until it is golden and fragrant (use caution when roasting coconut; it will go from tan to black quite quickly!). Remove to a separate bowl.

5)Roast the three flours separately in turn, using the same pan, until each is golden and fragrant. Remove these to rest in a bowl together (be sure to remove as much as you can from the pan before roasting the next).

6)Crush the cardamom seeds in a mortar, add the toasted coconut and crush this to a coarse paste.

7)Pick out a handful of the most beautiful, evenly-coloured roasted almond halves from the bowl and reserve these for decorating. Add the remainder to the coconut in the mortar and crush to a coarse paste.

8)Add the remaining ghee from the cup to the pan (as well as any ghee that clings to the bowls you used for the almonds and coconut)and set it over med-low heat; add the roasted flours and mix well. Add the milk-water mixture and continue heating and stirring until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan and moves as one mass. Add the paste from the mortar and mix well.

9)Turn out onto the thali and pat it down well until quite smooth using a metal spatula. Score the surface into diamond shapes using a dull knife. Press an almond-half into the center of each diamond and allow to cool. (place any nuts that remain after decorating in a small bowl and hide it in a cabinet to secretly munch later)

10)When cool, use a sharp knife to cut all the way through the score-marks. Serve with tea, coffee or cooling drinks.

Amazingly, this melt-in-the-mouth sweet seems to be impervious to humidity… so try it now; don’t procrastin-8!

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