Friday, February 02, 2007

Burfee's Law

Guess who's craving Indian food again?

I suppose that's really nothing new, seeing as how I often crave Indian food nowadays. It's not like I didn't just get my fix at an Indian vegetarian feast Sunday evening (I was invited on the spur of the moment to a fund-raising dinner, and as the cook herself invited me, it seemed like a great idea), but it did give me plenty of ideas.

For example, the dessert at this dinner included both homemade (!) gulab jamun and homemade burfee, or Indian milk fudge. The lady who brought the burfee used a recipe that called for ricotta cheese, and its taste was simple, not overly sweet, and utterly satisfying.

And so I thought, well, I have ricotta in the fridge. The recipe for burfee in my Indian vegetarian cookbook called for ricotta cheese. And I'm due for a cooking blowout to dazzle a new crowd of friends. So how could I resist?

I couldn't. (Big surprise, there.)

After dinner, I set up the portable DVD player in the kitchen so that I could watch a movie while I stood and stirred at the stove, and I pulled out all the ingredients to have ready in an instant since the recipe is one that requires fine timing.

And away I went!

After melting some butter in the pan, I added the ricotta cheese and cooked it, stirring constantly, for a long time, dodging the occasional splatters of hot cheese.


As the ricotta dried out and thickened, I added a can of reduced-fat sweetened condensed milk and a splash of vanilla. I kept on stirring and dodging for nearly half an hour more (and yes, I did see the entire movie there at the counter... this project takes time!).

Finally, judging the mixture to be sufficiently thick, I ladled it into two different square baking pans and added different flavors to each one: chai spices (cardamom, cloves, ginger, and a sprinkle of black pepper) and chocolate chips to one, and chopped pistachios and a dash of rosewater to the other.

The pans had to go into the refrigerator for a couple of hours for the burfee to firm up before it was ready to be cut, but I did get a quick taste of both simply from licking the spoons I used to mix and smooth each variation... and let me tell you, they are both very tasty, and I think they'll be a hit at Sunday evening's dinner party.

I know Murphy always said that anything that can go wrong, will. But in this case, even with the cooking taking more time than the recipe predicted and with dodging the spatters, even when things go a little wrong, they can still turn out right.

Let's hope my guests agree!

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