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…
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! 😀
- 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!
The story goes like this: Three elegantly-dressed ladies: A Marathi, a Malayali, and a Konkani from Karnataka, sashay into a Turkish restaurant together and politely request of the chef to prepare something that all of them would like. After summoning his only waiter to their side, he takes a moment to ponder the task set before him, and then begins to work in his kitchen. Little do they know he isn’t really a Turk…but he has dabbled enough in the cuisine to be open for lunch now and then; today is their lucky day it seems…. a short time later, after they’ve serenely polished off a few cool drinks while waiting, the chef returns, grinning from ear to ear. With just a hint of smugness, he sets down a platter of steaming and fragrant…………
Well, you probably know the rest of the tale. This story is as old as the hills!
One of these and a few small sides can make for a wonderful lunch, or serve with cocktails or at tea-time, cut across into 1″ slices for beautiful dainty finger food. As they are bread-and-side-dish in one, these are excellent to take on picnics or outings of any kind for a convenient meal.
It is almost necessary to have a baking tile or tiles or “pizza stone” set on the middle position rack of your oven for these to be successful. (see note) The filling for this can be made a day or two in advance. In fact it is somewhat better to do so, allowing the complex flavours to blend quite harmoniously.
Pide with a savoury filling of tomatoes, brinjals, and capsicums
For the filling:
6-8 small brinjals(about 3 cups), tops removed, halved, and sliced to 1/4″
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 T oil
1/2 C besan
2-3 t oil
a pinch of asafoetida
3/4 t black mustard seeds
1/2 t cumin seeds
1 t fenugreek seeds
6 curry leaves, chopped
2 t ground red chiles
1/2 t turmeric
1/4 t ground black pepper
2 C mild or sweet capsicums(such as bell, poblanos, new mexico, california), chopped to 1/2″
2 C tomatoes, skinned and chopped fresh or canned
2 fresh green chiles, seeded and sliced thinly
8 cloves of garlic, minced or pasted
1/2 C water
3/4 t salt (or to taste)
2/3 C finely-chopped coriander leaves
1)Sprinkle the brinjal slices with salt in a bowl, mix well, and let stand for an hour. Drain off the liquid that accumulates and rinse three times. Squeeze out as much water as possible with your hands or by using a piece of cheesecloth. Heat 1 1/2 T oil in a pan and fry the slices until nicely browned and somewhat dry. Remove these to a dish lined with cloth or paper to cool and drain the excess oil. Chop roughly and set aside.
2)In a pan set over medium-low heat, roast the besan until fragrant and a shade darker. Set aside.
3)Heat 1 1/2 t oil in a wok or karahi. Add the hing, a second later add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and fenugreek seeds. When the mustard seeds pop, add the curry leaves and ground spices. Stir once or twice and then add the capsicum, tomatoes and chiles. (mind the spluttering)
4)Cook this mixture over low heat, stirring occasionally at first and more frequently as the mixture reduces, until the oil appears at the edges and it has formed a paste. Turn heat to low.
5)Add the brinjals and garlic and continue to fry, stirring constantly, for 4 more minutes.
6)Add the water and salt to taste and mix well. Add the roasted besan and mix until well-combined. You should have a thick paste now. Add the coriander leaves and remove from heat.
Making the pide:
1 T active dry yeast
1/2 t sugar
1/2 C warm( not hot) water
1/2 C all-purpose flour
3 1/2 C bread flour
1 t salt
3 T oil
1 C plus 1 T lukewarm water
filling from above
1 egg, lightly beaten
1)Dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water let stand in a warm place for 10 minutes. It should have bubbles. Stir in the A-P flour, cover with plastic and let rise 30 minutes.
2)Place the bread flour in a large bowl; make a well in the center and pour in the yeast mixture, salt, oil, and lukewarm water. Gradually work the flour into the contents of the well to form a dough. Take this dough and knead it on a floured surface for 15 minutes until it is smooth and elastic, and no longer sticks to your hands. Add more flour if necessary and continue kneading until the dough no longer is sticky.
3)Oil the large bowl and place the dough back into it; cover with plastic and let rise 1 hour.
4)Take the dough out and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, place on a floured sheet or tray and cover with a damp towel. Set aside for 30 minutes.
5)Preheat oven with tiles at 500-550 F for 30 minutes before you bake.
6)Take each ball and roll out roughly to a 6″ X 12″ oval on an oiled board. Divide the filling into 8 parts and place a portion on each oval. Spread the filling, keeping 1/2″ away from the edges. Fold the two long sides of the dough over the filling, the edges overlapping along the center. Press down on the folded edges a bit. At the ends, pinch together 1″ from each side to seal. Brush the tops with beaten egg, sprinkle with kalonji seeds.
7)Place one or two pide on the hot tiles at a time and bake 6 minutes, until golden. Keep the finished pide wrapped in a dry towel to stay warm while you finish baking. While you bake, you can assemble the next in line.
The structure for these filled pide was taken from Ayla Algar’s beautiful cookbook, Classical Turkish Cooking. The filling, created by me, was not only heavily inspired by one from this book, but by several other recipes, most notably bharleli mirchi from Anita and her mother-in-law, Manisha’s lovely transcription of a recipe for thakkali chutney by Ammini Ramachandran, and Shilpa’s very nourishing tomato saru. My thanks to them and to all of my readers for your support and encouragement in my new blog. I hope to continue posting recipes of interest in the future. Stay tuned!
NOTE: Unglazed quarry tiles, available at home improvement centers or ceramic tile suppliers, can be, and are often used for baking. Before using, rinse them well and allow to dry several days. Season with oil and heat in a hot oven for a few minutes. Thereafter, keep the tiles oiled often until shiny and black. Scrape to clean and, if necessary use water only (no soap of any kind!) and allow to dry thoroughly before using.(they will crack if still damp).