Sunday, July 5, 2020

Recipe of the month: Milk Burfi

The whole of last month, I posted only one blog entry. Every time I fall short of my blogging quota, I start feeling antsy. 

But I couldn't help it, you know! In June, Singapore cautiously moved to Phase Two of its reopening with a range of restrictions eased to allow more workplaces, business and social activities to resume. Initially, I was allowed to work only three days a week in alternating shifts (which was still better than nothing!) but June 19th onwards, given the small size of my lab and our ability to comply with all workplace safety protocols and regulations that were put into effect, my work resumed at lightning pace. I have been working 10 hours a day with very few breaks (on most days) and with schools resuming and routines returning to normal, most days, I have been too sapped and preoccupied to even give blogging much thought. 

It is all good though. After two months of having too much free time for comfort, I am actually loving this bustling schedule and routine. It actually appeals to my highly restless disposition! 😛

This Indian sweet happened quite by accident actually. Anticipating the lockdown, I and my husband were prudent enough to stock up (NOT hoard!) on some essential dry provisions in case of an apocalypse-like situation 😬 In hindsight, it was not required at all because even during uncertain times, Singapore never ran short of any fresh groceries or provisions. At the height of my quarantine cooking and baking frenzy, I recall only not being able to get my hands-on cream cheese and bread flour for a couple of weeks (First World problems huh?!) but those items also returned to the shelves soon enough. 

I was going through our "Apocalypse Inventory" excel file recently (I'm not exists! 😝) and I noticed that there was a large tin of milk powder ordered by hubby dearest that I had completely forgotten about. Normally, I never use milk powder so I started pondering on how I could use it. 

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I don't make Indian sweets often because I am terrible at making them (and that is putting it mildly). I struggle to even make a decent gulab jamun from scratch. There are about 4-5 traditional Indian sweets that I have managed to "crack" and I keep shamelessly repeating them on every festive occasion 😂

Anyway, I didn't want to use the milk powder to make milk or yoghurt and I wasn't going to channel my inner Cleopatra by taking any milk baths (😝) so I figured the easiest way to use it would be in dessert. I settled on Milk Burfi or Milk Powder Burfi, an easy milk fudge subtly flavoured with cardamom and saffron and garnished with chopped nuts. After browsing a few recipes, I settled on one that looked pretty good. As I was making the burfi, I realized that the proportions mentioned in the recipe I was following were a bit off and so I had to quickly improvise to avert a disaster. Much to my surprise, the burfis not only did not turn out inedible but were in fact quite good! With a pleasant melt-in-the -mouth texture, subtle fragrance, mild sweetness and the added crunch and flavour from the nuts, it turned out to be a successful endeavor. 

I wanted to blog the recipe (more for myself than anyone else!) but before that, I wanted to make it one more time to ensure that the proportions of ingredients were correct. The recipe you see below is a tried and tested one with the results approved by my family so you can proceed with confidence!

If you have any other suggestions for using milk powder please leave a comment! Would love to hear your ideas 😊

Milk Burfi

Preparation time: 10 min
Cook time: ~15 min
Cooling time: 15-20 min at room temperature + min 1 hour in the fridge
Total time: ~ 2 hours
Makes: 16 pieces; Serves: 8-10
Recipe category: Dessert/Indian
Recipe level: Easy
Recipe source: Adapted from various sources

2 cups milk powder
3/4 cup full-fat milk
2/3 cup fine white sugar
4 tbsp ghee + extra for greasing 
1/4 cup nuts, roughly chopped or pounded (I used roasted hazelnuts & pistachios)
A generous pinch of saffron strands
2 pods green cardamom, finely crushed 

Also required:
8x8-inch square pan, layered with baking paper and greased with ghee
Baking/parchment paper 

1. Keep all your ingredients measured and ready before starting. This is important! 

2. Line a 8x8-inch square pan with parchment paper (leaving a bit of overhang at the sides) and grease the surface with a little ghee. If you don't have a square pan any other shape will do or else just a greased parchment paper will also do. 

3. Melt ghee in a (preferably) non-stick pan on low flame. 

4. Add the milk and bring to a low boil. 

5. Now add the milk powder and using a whisk, mix well to get rid of any lumps. 

6. Now add the sugar. Again, whisk very well to make sure the mixture is smooth. Add the saffron strands and crushed cardamom. 

7. Keep stirring on low-medium flame until the mixture thickens and starts to leave the sides of the pan and collect in the middle as a sort of dough. This should take about 10 mins. You need to keep stirring otherwise the mixture at the bottom will start to brown. 

8. Grease your fingers and pinch a little bit of the mixture (careful it will be HOT!). If you can roll this into a tight ball, the mixture is ready. Take it off the heat and immediately spoon it into the prepared pan.

9. Flatten the top using a greased flat spoon or flattened end of a cup and sprinkle over the crushed nuts. Gently press the nuts with greased palms.

10. Let the burfi set at room temperature for about 15-20 mins. Cut into 16 equal-sized squares.

11. Keep in the fridge for an hour or more to further harden. Store in an airtight container. 

  • I recommend that you use white sugar instead of brown sugar or jaggery powder to retain the natural light color of the burfi (it is milk burfi after all 😀)
  • If you don't cook the mixture enough, it will not set and if you cook it too much, it will become chewy. If you are using a low-medium heat, around 10 minutes should be enough to get to the right stage. Make sure you test to see if the mixture can be rolled with fingers into a tight ball and if yes then proceed to flatten it in the prepared pan.
  • You can use any nut/nuts you like such as cashew nuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, pistachios and macadamia nuts. I would recommend using pistachios (because of the lovely color) along with any other nut of your choice.
  • If you are not a fan of saffron or cardamon, you can add in 1 tsp of vanilla extract instead
  • This burfi stays good in the fridge for up to 2 weeks


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