The other day, the other half was gently nagging me to use up the packs of dessicated coconut in the larder. "Ah," a light bulb switched on in my head yesterday, "I'll make some Coconut Barfi."
In secondary school, my fellow Rangers and I were taught by one Mrs Mona Toh how to make coconut candy with freshly grated coconut, sugar and condensed milk. We were told to watch out for the 'change of colour' towards the end of the endless stirring and turning over of the mixture. That's when the aromatic lump sticks together and the sugar content reaches crystallization point. Very dicey, this. If you cook it too long, you get dry crumbly candy. If you take it off the heat too soon, you'd end up with a soft, difficult-to-cut gooey mass.
I looked up my recipe file yesterday and decided to make Coconut Barfi, a Indian sweet similar to school-canteen-day coconut candy but mildly flavoured with cardamom.
Here are the ingredients:
1 1/2 tbs butter (or ghee)
1 cup dessicated or freshly grated coconut
2/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
3 tbs sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp ground cardamom
Medium-heat a thick bottomed pan, preferably non-stick. Put in 1 tbs of the butter. Add coconut. Stir fry for a minute. Add sugar, milk and condensed milk. Quite constantly stir with a silicone or wooden spatula until mixture is thick. Add cardamom. Continue cooking until mixture sticks together (duration: about 12 minutes). Add remaining 1/2 tbs butter and cook for another minute. Turn out onto buttered small shallow pan (15cm diameter if round). Let cool for 25 minutes and cut into rectangles.
Caution: This sweet is very, very addictive!