If you were from South India, particularly from Tamil Nadu, you’d most definitely have Coconut Burfi memories like I do. This is my maternal grandmother’s specialty, and I remember as a kid when we’d be visiting her on the weekends. Her house had a lot of garden space, and there were gooseberry trees, Mango trees, Neem and even Eucalyptus. She’d make this in the kitchen, and while she leaves it out on the table to cool and set, we’d go in through the backyard and steal a couple, climb up one of the trees and eat them, hot and still soft.
I’ve made a few changes to her recipe, but it still tastes like hers.
So, very few ingredients but a whole load of memories!
Coconut Burfi Makes about 16
You will be needing
-1 coconut, grated. You can get 3 cups from a decent sized coconut. Or you can try this idea and always have coconut, ready on the go: Grated Coconuts
– For every cup of grated coconut, use 1 cup of granulated sugar. I do not like the burfis too sweet, so for a heaped cup of coconut, I use a leveled cup of sugar.
-1/3 cup of milk (optional)
-A pinch of food coloring (optional). I used two here, as you can see. Apple green and Raspberry red
– A little water, just a few spoons to begin melting the sugar
I also like to save the water that is inside the coconut while breaking it open and add it to the sugar syrup for more ‘coconuty-ness’!
– Freeze the grated coconuts (after you’ve measured them of course! ). Once they’re completely frozen, and become hard to the touch, blitz them in a clean, dry food processor till you get really cold, fine coconut powder.
Remember! Do not grind, simply pulse. Continued blitzing will thaw out the coconut and you’ll get pulp. Also, I noticed that ‘younger’ coconuts contained lesser ‘oil’ content, resulting in dryer powder. It’s fine if yours tends to be riper and oilier. It’ll still taste the same. Just take care not to grind till the coconut milk starts coming out.
Note: You can omit the above step completely and do this the traditional way with fresh grated coconut, but I like the smooth texture better, so I prefer to work with coconut powder.
-In a heavy bottomed pan, add the sugar and a little water and let it come to a rolling boil.
-We want to reach the ‘single thread’ stage, when the syrup runs in a single stream from the spoon. Or, you can take a little syrup between your thumb and index finger (careful not to burn your fingers). When you part the fingers, you should see a single thread forming between them.
-Add the coconut and the milk and stir continuously to avoid burning. You will notice that the coconut begins cooking and releases a lot of coconut milk. You will be smelling a lot of coconut milkiness in the pan.
– After some time, the milk will evaporate and the coconut oil will begin to release. At this time, the mixture will begin separating from the sides of the pan. If you tilt the pan, the whole mixture will move as a whole, gelatinous blob. There will be no sign of milky creaminess on the edges. You must work quickly now, because any delay will cause the mixture to harden as soon as it is removed from the heat.
– Since I used two colors here, I added green first, and spooned half the mixture into a square cake tin, greased and lined with baking paper. Tap it on the counter for it to spread and settle as the bottom layer.
– By this time, if the remaining mixture seems slightly thicker from cooling, put it back on the heat and add a tsp of water. Stir and add the second color. Since red was darker than red, it did not show any traces of the earlier added green.
Caution: Artificial food colors are not healthy, and I usually do not prefer to use them. A plain, pristine white burfi is just as visually appealing as a colored one.
– Transfer immediately to the pan forming the top layer, tap on the counter to set. Smooth the top with a clean knife dipped in hot water. I did not, so you can see the difference in texture between the bottom green and the top red halves in the picture.
– Let it cool partly, cut into squares, and let cool completely. It is easier to cut through when the burfi is still warm.
-Turn out onto a clean plate once completely cooled. Peel off the parchment paper, break out the pre-cut pieces and store in an air-tight container.
Note: For longer shelf life, eliminate the milk from the recipe. Else, refrigerate.
Sugar syrups are very forgiving. If it crosses the single thread stage and goes over to the double thread stage, simply add a few tablespoons of water and wait till it reaches the stage you need.
Keeps well for 2-3 weeks, although I don’t see how it could last without being finished off for that long.