As you or may not know, we had Diwali and the start of the new Hindu year earlier this week. For the first time in a few years, I couldn’t take the day off to go to the temple with my mum, so I settled upon trying my hand at making Indian sweets for the first time courtesy of an easy-looking recipe for coconut and cardamom barfi.
Indian sweets (also known as mithai) are notorious for their richness and sweetness thanks to the copious amounts of sugar and dairy that go into them. They definitely are the Marmite of Indian cooking – most people either adore them or can’t stand them. Needless to say, having grown up with Indian sweets being wheeled out for every celebration and occasion you can think of, I absolutely love them!
Sweet-making is a bit of a fine art, so I thought I’d make just one type of Indian sweet and concentrate on perfecting it. I found this recipe for coconut and cardamom barfi (or burfi, if you prefer not to think about a certain bodily process when stuffing yourself full of sweets) on the Guardian website, and thought it looked like a good entry-level recipe.
Of course, things didn’t go quite to plan! As you can see from the photo above (the only one I took, sorry!), the sweets turned out a bit crumbly, when the texture is supposed to be slightly soft and hold together as a result. Unfortunately, I overcooked the cream and sugar syrup – I wanted to be cautious and keep the syrup on as low a heat as possible to avoid burning, but when it still hadn’t got to the thread stage after 10 minutes, I turned the heat up to speed things up a bit… for a bit too long.
I did use a thermometer halfway through to make sure I had the right temperature (one website informed me that I was looking for somewhere near the 110C mark), but either it didn’t work or the website was wrong!
I persevered anyway, as I knew the sweets would at least taste good even if they didn’t look quite right. And they did! I used fresh cardamom from the pod that I ground in a spice grinder rather than use ready-made cardamom powder, which I think intensified the flavour nicely against the sweet coconut.
I would definitely try this again now that I have a good idea of where I went wrong. I’d like to experiment with different flavours, especially almond, pistachio and rose, so stay tuned for next Diwali…!