Friday, 21 September 2012

Blackberry, Coconut & Rose Barfi - Best of British, London

To me, food in London means two things and takes me straight back to my student days. Firstly, high end treats for special occasions like birthdays and graduation. I remember the excitement of tea at the Ritz &amp tea at the Grosvenor, not something a girl from a remote Cornish village had ever experienced before. Secondly and much more frequently, I made use of the abundance of good cheap Indian eats in and around the back of Euston Station - this may account for my occasional lateness to lectures. It was here I was introduced to Indian sweets and was smitten by their exotic flavours. So when Fiona of London Unattached set this month's Best of British challenge as "what does London food mean to you", Indian sweets were the first thing that sprang to mind.

I was dying to have a go at making some Indian sweets after receiving Indian-Inspired Desserts by Roopa Rawal (watch this space for a forthcoming exciting giveaway). So leafing through the book, it was just a matter of picking which one. Because I still have some rose syrup left, the coconut and rose barfi caught my eye. That was the one I wanted to start with, but with the addition of some fruit to offset the sweetness a little and to give some natural colour. Hmmm, what's in season? Well it's been a while since I last got scratched arms and purple stained fingers, but blackberries it had to be. I managed to pick a tub full from the hedgerows and made my way back home with glee.

This is how I made my first ever barfi:
  • Pureed 300g blackberries with a stick blender & rubbed through a sieve to extract the juice into a medium heavy based saucepan.
  • Added a 387g tin of condensed milk and warmed it up on a low heat, stirring all the while.
  • Added 4 tbsp rose syrup.
  • Increased the heat a little and added 200g of milk powder. Whisked until all lumps had disappeared.
  • Added 40g desiccated coconut and continued to stir.
  • Cooked for about an hour, stirring every few minutes until the mixture looked fairly dry and as though it might be thick enough to set.
  • Spooned into a 2 lb loaf tin lined with baking paper and smoothed down with the back of a spoon.
  • Crossed fingers and hoped it would set.
  • Bingo, after a few hours it had well and truly set.
  • Melted 30g dark chocolate (G&B Cook's 72%) in a bowl over hot water.
  • Turned out onto a board.
  • Drizzled teaspoonfuls of the melted chocolate over the barfi.
  • Cut into 32 squares
I was thrilled at the result; my barfi tasted like a true Indian sweet, despite the fact that blackberries may never have been used before. The texture was perfect too. The blackberry flavour was very much present and the rose though subtle, did not go unnoticed. The chocolate drizzle added another flavour dimension and helped counteract the sweetness. Having said that, they weren't as sweet as I had imagined they would be. They featured at a dinner party I recently held for friends and were well received.

Best of British is a monthly challenge showcasing the best of what British food has to offer in various counties or regions around the UK. The challenge is sponsored by The Face of New World Appliances and currently has a £50 Amazon voucher prize to give to a winning entry each month. Here are the previous regional entries: Cornwall, Scotland, Yorkshire.

As I used freshly picked blackberries, I'm also entering this into Simple & In Season, a monthly blogging event created by Ren of Fabulicious Food and this month hosted by Katie Bryson of Feeding Boys and a Firefighter.

I'm also submitting this to Javelin Warrior's Made with Love Mondays - a challenge embracing the whole concept of making everything from scratch.


  1. That looks amazing! Adding blackberries is genuinely brilliant. It's funny, for me Indian sweets are Sydney!

    1. It's not the best characteristic, but I can't help feeling smug about the blackberries - thank you. Sydney makes me think of Thai food.

    2. Yeah - Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, all says Sydney to me. But I used to go to an Indian sweet shop on Cleveland St with friends, share a Thali and load up on burfi and jalebis.

  2. wow those look amazing...I'll definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for the give away.
    Have a cool weekend.

  3. Fantastic colour and I am well impressed with your foraging haul, very successful. Love how the challenge has related to you in a way I am sure nobody ever dreamed off.

  4. It looks divine and the colour is beautiful!

  5. you are the queen of puddings and you are good at using seasonal fruit too!

  6. Lovely, very lovely! That makes me again thinking ... why don't I have something for pudding tonight!

  7. These have a very striking appearance - they look very professional! Not bad for a first try, I'd say!

  8. Great idea - these look lovely. Blackberries sound like an excellent ingredient to use. You've reminded me of the times I spent eating Indian food around Euston. In particular, some lovely but very extended lunch hours in the Ravi Shankar restaurant back in the late 1980s.

  9. These colours are amazing! I cook Indian food once a week,but I've never had Indian puddings/desserts. Crazy, I know. Your cakes are beautiful and surely delicious. I also discovered Indian food when I moved to London, 10 years ago.

  10. That sounds amazing. I love barfi but never had a fruity version. You are so inventive :)

  11. What gorgeous vivid sweets! I've never tried barfi before but they look GREAT! Thanks for linking up :-)

  12. FABULOUS entry for BOB and also an amazing dessert too....I love new ideas with blackberries, and the colours are fabulous! Karen

  13. I love your barfi and think you did put your own individual stamp on this Indian sweet which is something I like to do with recipes too. It goes to show you just how good it is to be creative in the kitchen when thinking up ideas.
    I wonder how London felt to you after coming from a rather more sedate part of the world?
    This is a great creation, love blackberries and they are free!

  14. I've never made Indian sweets, but that sounds very good.

  15. Wow. I love barfi but never tried a fruity one! great idea Choclette!

  16. This sounds really interesting...I've never heard of Barfi! I do however love looks really tasty and an unusual combination with the cocount and rose! :-)

  17. Ooh, I love barfi! Blackberries make a fresh addition.

  18. I've never heard of this - it's a slightly unfortunate name, but looks amazing!

  19. This sounds delicious, Choclette - I don't know that I've ever tried a truly Indian inspired dessert before but I'd give this a go. Love the blackberries and and the texture of the barfi looks amazing. Thanks so much for sharing with Made with Love Mondays and I'm still trying to catch up after a week of holiday :)


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