Sweets or Mithai have a special role to play in Indian tradition and rituals. Somehow no celebration is complete without a nice big box or plate of ghee, flour or milk-based sweets.
As a kid, considering we lived in a huge joint family, I was lucky to savour some delicious homemade goodies across various functions, events and festivals. So much so, the head Halwai of a renown Sweet shop would come home with his boys to make sweets, while we kids would slyly relish a laddoo or two, under grandma's supervision.
While times today have drastically changed, wherein one cannot simply walk into a sweet store and ogle at those colourful delights, taste some and finally pack away for home.
I and my mother have continued to cook, replicate and enjoy some of our favourites back at home sweet home :)
Milk sweets have always held a special place in my sweet tooth list of things. I can binge on an entire pot of rasgulla, chum chum, doodh peda , ras mali and of course the quintessential doodh ki barfi.
Doodh barfi is a very easy recipe. Just follow the measurements exactly, keep stirring and never ever move away from the stove while making this. Kesar and cardamom flavour is one combination you can never go wrong with while making any Indian dessert/sweet. The choice of nuts can also be altered to your liking and yes, do be generous because that's home cooking is all about!!
3/4 cup - Full fat milk
1/2 cup - Sugar (adjust basis preference)
1/4 cup - Ghee
2.5 cups - Milk powder ( I used Nestle)
1/2 tsp - Coarsely ground Cardamom seeds
A pinch of saffron
4 tbsp - Almond flakes
4 tbsp - Coarsely ground Pistachios
In a large non-stick Kadai/pan heat ghee, milk and sugar until it comes to a gentle boil (you will see bubbles around the corner).
Lower the flame completely, add the milk powder in portions and stir constantly to remove the lumps.
Keep stirring, you will notice that the milk will start to thicken like a custard in about 10mins or so.
Add saffron-infused in 1 tbsp milk plus cardamom powder and continue to cook the mixture on a low flame with constant stirring until it starts to resemble a thick dough and no longer sticks to the pan when you lift it up.
Spread this mixture, flat on a well-greased tray or a tray lined with parchment paper into a smooth thick sheet (similar to how you would do it for barfi/chikki).
Once you've smoothened the mixture, add your nuts and give it a gentle press.
Let this cool for about 3-4hrs at room temperature. Cut it out into desired shapes and serve.