Thengai Burfi is one my childhood favorites. Coconut based burfi or urundai/laddu can be made in different styles – with milk and sugar, with sugary condensed milk, with milk powder and sugar, with sugar syrup without milk… thengai burfi (square shaped sweet) or thengai urundai (coconut balls) is something the tongue and teeth wouldn’t forget for long – Tongue for the taste of it and Teeth for the extras that always cling on to it. The Chewy, Juicy, Sugary, Coconut Milky flavor of the sweet takes me to a special day called MISSION SUNDAY.
My early years of schooling in an Anglo Indian School introduced me to a bit of Christianity and to the Sisters of the Missionaries. MISSION SUNDAY used to be a fun filled day of events, something equivalent to Carnivals in European Schools. A day of food, games and fun activities – all done by combined efforts of Teachers, Parents and Children. Nothing to do with religion, it was a Sunday devoted to opening stalls, selling your home products- especially food cooked by mothers/grandmothers, earn money and donate it to school. I remember Amma used to make Thengai Burfi in different colors – Pink,, Red and Yellow and Amma and me used to be a team selling thengai burfi. As Stallmates, we used to earn a bit… that was a very happy feeling of being a junior entrepreneur at an early age. So that’s the juicy story of Thengai Burfi.
My cousin ‘S’ would remember more as we went to the same school and what more we did in our stall together for Mission Sunday is something to discuss about. My memories are somehow stuck up with Coconut Burfi.
This version of Thengai Burfi is with the basic ingredients – coconut and sugar. There is no milk and no food color in the recipe. As I had saffron, I chose to bring in the exotic flavor of saffron and its beautiful mild yellow color to the burfi. Also added is cardamom to complete the combined flavor of the sweet.
Thengai Burfi/Coconut Burfi
- thuruviya thengai/grated coconut – 2 cups
- sarkkarai/sugar – 1 1/2 cups
- water – enough to soak sugar – appr. 1/2 cup
- elakkai/cardamom powder – 1 tsp
- kungumapoo/saffron – a few strings
- nei/clarified butter – to grease the tray
grated coconut and cardamom
saffron and sugar-water
- Grate coconut, without the brown layer close to the shell. We need the white meat alone
- Grease a tray with enough nei/clarified butter
- Place pan (preferably non-stick) on stove and heat sugar and water with saffron strands and cardamom powder
- When water comes to a boil add grated coconut and stir well
- Keep stirring till the mixture starts to thicken and foams up in the pan. It would not take much time
- The sweet is almost ready and once it starts to leave the pan, spread in the already greased tray/bowl
- When it is a little warm, mark the spread sweet into desired shapes and remove only when completely cool
- Juicy Coconut Burfi is ready.
- Grating only the white meat of coconut is important for the beautiful white colour. A substitute option to easy traditional grating is to take coconut completely out of the shell, remove the brown outer layer and then cut into small pieces. Then, grate in a mixer-grinder. (see picture above)
- Saffron is optional. The aroma and subtle yellow color are the true benefits of saffron. Those who prefer the original white color of coconut shall avoid saffron.
- Sugar can be altered as per taste preference. More the sugar, finer the structure of pieces. I have stuck to medium sugar.
Rectifying problems in consistency:
- if you find the consistency of burfi too thin and hence not ready to form stiff pieces, keep the mixture back in pan and stir for some more time
- if the mixture seems too thick to spread or turns into granules, put it back in the pan, add little water and stir till it softens and remove at the right consistency