Tuesday, November 14, 2006

By The Book - Coconut Burfi Fudge

coconut fudge
Coconut burfi/fudge

Here is a confession....I hardly ever cook anything from cookbooks!

"Gasp!" you might say. "What? Really? How can that be true? You love food and have a food blog and a ton of cookbooks!" Well, it is true. I love cookbooks and have a HUGE collection of cookbooks. I even own a few cookbooks in languages I'm not really fluent in and a couple in languages I can't even read! But as for cooking something from them, I hardly ever do. I may sometimes use a recipe as an inspiration, but usually add/modify ingredients to suit my tastes.

I buy cookbooks to pour over the beautiful pictures. Cookbooks are part of my bedtime reading repertoire. I like the light reading that cookbooks offer - pleasant, relaxing and soporific. I flip the pages, drool over the exotic dishes and reminisce over the familiar ones. I admire the food styling in the pictures and make a mental note about some unusual ingredient or spice that catches my eye. I lay back on the pillow and try to image what it must taste like. I have pleasant, happy images of me churning out one perfect looking dish after another - just as the cookbook promises - and drift off to sleep with lingering thoughts of delightful dishes all lined up on a perfectly set table, with perfectly behaved kids (and husband!) sitting at the table, tucking in heartily and singing praises of me. Sigh! a girl can dream, can't she?

Once in a while though, a certain recipe will catch my eye for its sparsity of ingredients, simplicity of preparation and the promised elegance of taste. Once such recipe I saved from a newspaper is for "Coconut Fudge". I love coconut based sweets, but have never tried to make the traditional coconut burfi. It tends to be a bit sweet for my liking and I've always been afraid to meddle with the proportion of sugar because it seems sacrosanct to the recipe. When I came across this recipe, I filed it away as I do with a lot of recipes.

Years passed before I stumbled across it again. This time, I immediately added the required ingredients to my weekly shopping list. At the next available opportunity, I made the dish and followed the recipe exactly!

I was rewarded with wonderfully moist, chewy, coconut fudge. It was perhaps a little bit too sweet and the next time, I'm going to reduce the sugar a little bit. It was still fantastic and the empty box in the fridge was a mute testimony not only to the deliciousness of the sweet, but also to the fact that my family does not remove empty boxes from the fridge! They happily help themselves to the last of the laddoo or burfi or milk and place the empty carton back in the fridge! Arrrghhh!

coconut fudge tray
tray of coconut burfi

The recipe is from Chicago Tribune a few years ago. Here is the recipe verbatim:

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
Chilling time: 8 hours (I started sampling right away!)
Yield: 32 pieces (considerably less after 8 hours due to constant sampling)


1 cup each: sugar, milk, whipping cream, unsweetened grated coconut (I used frozen grated coconut that I thawed in the microwave)
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 tablespoons sliced pistachios or almonds

  1. Heat sugar, milk, cream and coconut to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Reduce heat to simmer.
  3. Cook until mixture becomes very thick and starts to leave the side of the pan, about 50 minutes.
  4. Transfer mixture to a buttered 8-inch square baking dish/tray. I lined the tray with aluminum foil and ghee'ed (new word alert!) the foil.
  5. Sprinkle with cardamom powder and nuts.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 8 hours.
  7. Cut into 1 inch diamonds or squares.

This fudge/burfi has to be refrigerated or else it becomes very soft. The taste is reminiscent of Dulce De Leche and if you like that flavor or that of caramel, then this burfi is for you. I happen to love Häagen-Dazs version of this flavor, so I loved this burfi.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

More is More - 16 Bean Adai

bag of beans
Bag of 16 kinds of Beans

  • Do you want to add more protein to your diet?
  • Do you want to eat more whole grains?
  • Do you want to increase your fiber intake?
  • Do you want to feed your family traditional dishes that they love eating?
  • Do you want a quick lunch/dinner/brunch option that you don't have to slave over?
  • Do you want to use up that bag of brown rice you bought, but is lying unused in the pantry?

If you answered "Yes" to any of the above questions, read on....

Ever since I saw this post in Linda's blog, I was intrigued. I have always had a love-hate relationship with beans. I love beans of all kinds, but tend to over indulge on them. When I am on a bean-loving phase, I make all kinds of bean dishes without respite for days on end - dals, sprouts, salads, koshambir and so on, till I am so full of beans(excuse the pun!) that I cannot look at another bean in the eye. I veer away from beans and stick to vegetables till the enchanting allure of beans draws me to them again.

When I saw Linda's post for a 16 bean soup, I knew that it was a recipe I had to try. If 1 bean is good, 16 beans has got to be better, right? So, a bag of 16 bean soup mix came home with me on my next trip to the grocery store.

I soaked the beans for the soup and then had a sudden change of plans. I thought of the perennial favorite of my husband - Adai. Typically Adai can be made with 3 beans (actually lentils, but who is checking?) but why not with 16? So I soaked 1 cup of brown rice (yes, that bag of brown rice that's been sitting in the pantry for ages) along with the beans and threw in a handful of udad dal to act as a binding agent. This is in case the beans didn't form a homogenous mass. I wasn't sure if the beans would bind together without some binding agent like udad dal.

I flavored the batter with a good dose of fresh ginger, some red and green chillies, a handful of fresh cilantro and was estatic when this batter turned out crisp, crunchy, absolutely delicious Adai!

Who says you can't have it all? With this 16 (umm..17) bean Adai, you can have both taste and nutrition!

According to the packet, the bean soup mix contains the following:
  • Northern
  • Pinto
  • Large Lima
  • Blackeye
  • Garbanzo
  • Baby Lima
  • Green Split Pea
  • Kidney
  • Cranberry Bean
  • Small White
  • Pink Bean
  • Small Red
  • Yellow split pea
  • Lentils
  • Navy
  • White Kidney
  • Pearl Barley
  • Black Bean

Keen readers will notice that there are more than 16 items listed above. My guess is that some are not beans!!

And to leave you similing, here a little poem my son came home singing when he was in 3rd grade:

Beans, Beans, the musical fruit
The more you eat the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So eat some beans with every meal

Yes, 3rd graders are very amused by such jokes :-)

16 bean adai
16 Bean Adai with tomato pickle and Spinach Chutney


1 cup of 16 bean soup mix
1 handful of udad dal
1 cup brown rice (I used organic long grain)
6 dried red chillies (caution: reduce if you prefer the Adai less spicy)
1 green chilli
1 inch piece of fresh ginger root
a handful of cilantro leaves
5-6 curry leaves
scant 1/2 tsp asafoetida powder (to reduce the aforementioned "tooting")
salt to taste

  1. Soak the beans and udad dal in 6 cups of water for 2 hours
  2. After 2 hours add the rice and red chillies and soak for another 2 hours
  3. Drain and grind to a coarse paste in the blender with the ginger, green chillies, cilantro. You can add the soaking water to get a pancake batter like consistency.
  4. Add asafoetida and salt to taste.
  5. Tear the curry leaves into 2-3 pieces and add to the batter.
  • Make adais right away or store the batter in a tightly covered container for upto 1 week
  • You can add finely chopped onions to the batter before making the adai
  • Follow the instructions in this post for step-by-step instructions to making the adai