This past year I’ve discovered the love for food and cooking. How did I ever live without it. It feels like meditation and whenever I am down, I turn to food. Spending hours and hours in the kitchen with great joy. These past two years have been extra tough because of mom being so sick. Her illness came out of the blue. I have been waiting to grow up all this while and just deal but have realised that that is not going to happen. I have beat myself on my inability to process a parent suffering to the extent that mom is. Maybe everyone else feels this way but I have no way of knowing that. I only know that it has crushed me.
As much as the devastation has broken me in many ways, food has saved me. Ma always thought she was terrible at cooking, but what she didn’t realise, even after repeatedly telling her so, was that she was/is brilliant. Most of my Indian cooking still cannot touch the quality of hers. She always said, you can teach someone how to cook to a certain extent but you cannot infuse that special magic that someone has in their fingers. It is that special magic that makes the food delicious. I used to wonder what she meant. Today I know it to be true. And, I think she gave me that gift. I say this with the greatest humility. Because I am so grateful for it. A big part of me still does it for her. Preening at the idea that if she saw me cook, she’d be shocked. Shocked with joy, her chest swelling with pride.
So, when Diwali came this year, I did it for her. The good cheer. The good food. For my baby girl too of course but mostly for mom. Barfi (fudge) is a very traditional dessert in India. You’ll rarely ever find anyone making it at home. I love coconut and it always has been the only barfi I can eat. The others are just too sweet for me. This is an incredibly easy recipe and I am surprised no one makes it at home. It could be considered a little time consuming I guess because you will need to grate a fresh coconut. But if you love the preparation as much as the actual cooking like I do, you will enjoy yourself a lot.
4 cups grated fresh coconut
4 cardamom pods, seeds crushed
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp cream
2 tbsps ghee
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup pistachios, chopped
Mix the sugar and milk well in a deep non-stick pan. Add the grated coconut and mix. Stir continuously with a spatula. Peel cardamoms and crush the seeds. Add the crushed cardamom seeds to the coconut mixture. Mix well. Continue cooking for about twenty minutes or till the mixture becomes a little dry and begins to leave the sides of the pan. Take off the heat and mix in half of the chopped nuts and mix well.
Line a tray with baking paper. Pour the mixture in and spread evenly. Sprinkle the remaining nuts on top. Cover and refrigerate at least overnight. I thought it tasted fantastic after a day or two. Cut into bars and serve with a glass of tea as a snack or with chocolate ice cream if you’d like to eat it as dessert.