I did say easy to make, not quick or effortless. But it’s worth it — keep reading.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- one half-gallon of whole milk
- one pint of whipping cream
- a half stick of butter
- ¾ cup of white sugar (brown will curdle the milk)
- 3-4 whole cardamom pods
- one large, aluminum bottomed stainless steel or enameled cast iron pot
- a ladle
- a long-handled wooden spoon
- a silicon spatula
- a good hour
Pour milk and whipping cream into the pot then turn on the heat. Add cardamom pods. Start stirring for the first few minutes. This tricks the milk into thinking burning is not permitted. The idea that personality is everywhere is a concept from the same place as the burfi.
This recipe is similar to directions I once saw in Mad Magazine for carving a clipper ship. It showed a block of wood and a chisel. The instructions read: Chisel away everything that does not look like a clipper ship. Well that’s close to how this ancient temptation is made.
This will be a process of boiling the milk until it cooks all the way down. The more room it has to rise in, the less time it will require for evaporating. Though a bigger pot means less cooking time, never use a thin-bottomed one. High heat and vigilance will yield beautiful results. The two things to watch out for are boiling over and burning.
When the milk boils up, simply ladle out some milk then pour it back in. This sends just enough cool air into the mass to prevent it from boiling over. Do this at a pace that keeps the milk about an inch from the top. Use a wooden spoon to keep the bottom and edges from burning. Rotate between ladling and checking the bottom. With a large pot and high heat, this can be done in record time. You can also turn the heat down to low and keep an eye on it. But this will take longer and turn out darker.
The only way to make two identical batches of burfi is by altering nothing in the process. Otherwise there are as many variations as there are variables. If the milk is not fresh, it can curdle, which will just mean ‘bumpy’ burfi. For a smooth texture, use very fresh milk. Also make sure the pot and utensils are clean with no soap residue remaining.
There is a set period for ladling the milk. It will be obvious when that is over. Usually 15 – 20 minutes after first rise. The milk will take on a thicker appearance and stop rising. From here, take extra care to not let it burn. I suggest a silicon spatula to keep inner surfaces from sticking. This stage moves quickly from thick to thicker. It’s fun. When it really starts looking thick, add the sugar. Stir constantly and adjust the heat if you see it’s sticking anywhere. A little after it starts pulling away from the sides, turn off the heat. Continue stirring for another minute though as leaving it just then could cause browning. Though it will seem soft, know that the burfi will become more solid after it has cooled.
Have a plate or tray ready for scooping the burfi onto. Remove all cardamom pods added in the beginning. Use a spatula to form into an even rectangle. If it is sticky, butter the spatula slightly. Plastic wrap works great for smoothing without mess. Score and cool before serving.