There is no dearth of recipes for coconut barfi, each using ingredients richer than the last. This one, however, ignores all the milk, cream, khoya etc., focusing instead on the main ingredients – coconut and sugar, with some cardamom and kesar thrown in for good measure. The clue is in the name – ‘pak’ refers to a sugar syrup (chashni in Hindi).
Coconut trees loaded with coconuts were quite a common sight when we were growing up in Mumbai. Our Aji’s house was surrounded by a dozen or so of these, so coconuts never really needed to be bought in the market.
Every year, a specialist coconut harvester would arrive and relieve the trees of their load. (The manner in which this was done is to be seen to be believed. If traditional coconut harvesting is not something you are familiar with, here’s a video that might help. Video credits belong to Mike Myers, as stated in the link.)
The coconuts were stored in large gunny bags (burlap/hessian sacks) to be used all year round.
Pathare Prabhu recipes use coconuts quite generously, as you may have noticed from some of the previous recipes on my blog. This is one of the many that used the abundance of home grown produce.
1.5 cups coconut (grated)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon crushed cardamom seeds
a few strands of saffron
1/2 teaspoon rose extract (optional)
2 teaspoons ghee
1. Heat a large, deep pan. Heat the ghee. When it melts, add the grated coconut and saute for about 5-6 minutes on medium-high heat. Then take it off the heat and let it cool and turn dry.
2. In another deep pan, make the sugar syrup with the sugar and water. Cook till it reaches soft ball stage. (A drop of the syrup in a bowl of cold water should turn into a soft and pliable ball.)
3. Grease a plate or small tray with the ghee. Keep aside.
4. When the sugar syrup is ready, add the coconut, crushed cardamom, saffron strands (or rose extract). Mix well.
5. Spoon this mixture into the greased dish and let it cool and set. This can take a few hours, depending on the ambient temperature.
6. When it is firm, cut into pieces and decorate with chopped nuts, if required.