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Saffron barfi from Chetna's Healthy Indian: Vegetarian.
Chetna’s Healthy Indian: Vegetarian by Chetna Makan.
Our cookbook of the week is Chetna’s Healthy Indian: Vegetarian by Chetna Makan. Tomorrow, we’ll feature an interview with the author.
Sunny yellow and subtly floral, Chetna Makan’s saffron barfi requires patience, but it more than pays off in delight. “It’s really light and it’s just gently sweet but the saffron comes through very, very nicely,” says Makan. “It’s a great way to finish a nice Indian meal.”
As with the original Chetna’s Healthy Indian (2019), Makan found the sweets chapter the most difficult to write. To keep with the “healthy” theme, she landed on making them “mostly bite-size,” and used a lighter hand with sugar, ghee and butter. Here, she calls for less sugar than would typically be used, and almonds for “an extra dimension of creaminess.”
800 mL (3 1/4 cups) whole milk
A pinch of saffron
Ghee, for greasing
60 g (2 1/4 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground cardamom
150 g (5 1/2 oz) ground almonds
A handful of pistachios, finely chopped
Bring the milk slowly to simmering point in a pan. Add the saffron, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes to prevent sticking.
Meanwhile, use some ghee and baking parchment to grease and line a 20cm (8 inch) square loose-bottomed cake tin.
Once the 15 minutes is up, stir the sugar into the milk and cook for 10 minutes, still stirring every 2 minutes. Add the cardamom and almonds and mix well.
This is where you need to be patient: continue cooking for 20–25 minutes, stirring slowly the whole time. The mixture will gradually begin to thicken and come together, and will leave the sides of the pan.
Quickly tip the mixture into the prepared tin and spread out with a palette knife or the back of a spoon. Sprinkle the pistachios over the barfi and press them in. Leave to set completely. Cut into pieces to serve.
You can store this in the fridge for 3–4 days – just make sure to leave it at room temperature for an hour before serving.
Excerpted from Chetna’s Healthy Indian: Vegetarian by Chetna Makan. Copyright © Chetna Makan 2020. Photography by Nassima Rothacker. Published in 2020 by Mitchell Beazley, an imprint of Octopus Publishing Group Ltd. Reproduced by arrangement with the publisher.
Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020