It’s so cold outside today, the brain prefers to stay numb rather than focus on work. The weather will remain frigid all this week, and there is also snow forecast for tomorrow. Houston’s is really mild compared to what Northeast and Midwest US are facing right now. Winter is really too much this year and spring can’t come soon enough!
Even in this bitter cold weather, we get great quality fresh coconuts, thanks to local Asian and Mexican shops in Houston. With those fresh coconuts, we prepared coconut-pecan burfis for a friend’s birthday celebration last weekend.
You remember the pecans I gathered from neighborhood pecan trees last October? I had no idea before about how time-consuming the pecan shelling process can be. The first attempt was a test for my patience. Now I keep the breaking and shelling pecan nuts to need to bake basis and only for special occasions. And, I had to shell some more, patiently for this preparation.
The dessert idea started with plain coconut burfi, then we thought why not buddy up the coconut with pecans. The combination was a success and they made a darling duo in burfis. Coconut-Pecan burfis are wonderful dessert for special occasions. Give a try.
Fresh Coconut and Home-Shelled Pecans
Coconut Pecan Burfi
(makes about 20 to 24, 1×1-inch sized burfis)
- Break two coconuts open. Save the coconut water to sip later. Grate the white part inside with a coconut grater. We need 4 cups of fresh grated coconut for this recipe.
- Add one cup of pecans to a food processor or mixer and coarsely crush the pecans tiny pieces.
- Open four cardamom pods and shell the seeds in a mortar. With a pestle, crush the seeds to fine powder.
- Take three and half cups of cane sugar in a bowl.
- Apply a tablespoon of melted ghee to a flat tray (to pour the burfi mixture).
- Combine two cups of water and the sugar in a heavy-bottomed, big vessel and place over moderate heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves completely and then raise the heat to gently boil until sugar reaches “soft-ball consistency”. To know the right consistency – do the cold water candy test. Take quarter cup of water in a small bowl, add few drops of sugar syrup to water. When the syrup holds its shape and doesn’t dissolve in the water (softball), then it is at the right consistency.
- Add the grated coconut and pecan pieces to sugar syrup when the syrup is ready. Keep the heat on medium and cook, stirring continuously to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan. In about 10 to 15 minutes, the mixture will start to firm up and come away from the sides of pan easily – this is the signal to turnoff the heat. Stir in cardamom powder and immediately pour the mixture on a flat, ghee applied tray. Level it evenly with a spatula, and cut into squares. Let cool.
- When the burfi is thoroughly cool, cover the tray with another tray. Reverse and gently tap to loosen the pieces. Separate the squares and store them in a container. Coconut-Pecan burfi will stay fresh up to two weeks.
Coconut and Pecan ~ The Best Buddies for Tasty Burfis
On New Year’s, some break champagne bottles and we break coconuts. Traditional welcome always comes in the form of coconut for us. Coconut is highly valuable in our culture. A culinary chameleon, coconut not only symbolizes life but it also sustains the jeevam.
And this is what I’ve prepared with the Pooja coconut for our meal today – A sharp pacchadi. Surely this must be the most popular of all from Southern India where it is served over steamed rice or with dosa. This pacchadi is often recommended to those whose appetite needs a flavor boost. And who doesn’t in this mind numbing cold weather?
Raw Rocks from Bharath ~ Coconut Pacchadi
(serves 2 or 4 for 2 or 1 meal)
Fresh coconut, grated – about 2 cups
Shallot or red onions, chopped – about 1/2 cup
Green chillies, Indian or Thai type – 6 to 8
Tamarind pulp – 2 tablespoons
Salt – 1/2 teaspoon or to taste
Take coconut, onion and chillies in a Sumeet style mixer or in a mortar. Add tamarind and salt. Blend or pulverize to coarse paste without adding any water. Remove to a cup. Serve with rice and dal or with breakfast items like dosa, idly, and pongal etc.
Coconut Pacchadi prepared in this way does not keep very well for storage more than a day because it’s a ‘Raw Rocks’ kind of Bharath recipe, and must be eaten fresh.
Coconut Pacchadi in a Coconut Shell ~ Celebrating ‘Raw Rocks’ in 2010
We were invited to a baby shower party last weekend. The blessed friend is a long time reader of Mahanandi recipes. For a present, instead of another plastic thing, I wanted to gift something nourishing for the twins-expecting mother. After giving it a thought for sometime, I came up with an idea. Carrots, coconut and pecans brought in. Carrots and coconut grated, pecans chopped. Baby bananas substituted eggs and to make it truly a party treat, I experimented by adding some condensed milk to the whole-wheat batter.
The effort was a sweet success…some great looking carrot–coconut mini cakes came out of the oven. I didn’t have the heart to spoil their healthy glow with cheesy coverup. I took them to the party, as they are without the phony makeup, hoping they would receive with “I like you very much, just as you are.”
Carrot and Coconut ~ Grated to Greet the Cake Batter
(the batter makes about 24 mini cakes)
Coconut: Break a fresh coconut. Grate the coconut. – 2 cups.
Carrots: Peel the skin and grate the carrots.- 2 cups.
Pecans: Finely chop pecans. – 1 cup.
Bananas: 2 baby or 1 big, ripe one. Mash the bananas to smooth – 1 cup.
Oil: I added peanut oil – 1/2 cup
Condensed milk: 1 cup
Milk : 2 to 3 cups
2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or cake flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
Take the dry ingredients listed above in a big bowl. Mix well. Add the wet ingredients – grated carrot, coconut, chopped pecans, mashed banana, condensed milk, milk and oil. Combine thoroughly until well mixed. If the batter looks dry and crumbly, add more milk or water in a slow, steady stream, folding continuously. Consistency of the batter has to be more on the wet side and easily spreadable.
Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Generously apply ghee or oil to cake pans. Keep them ready on baking trays.
Transfer the batter to the cake pans and fill them upto ¾ths. Place them in oven and bake until the top is light golden brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean, for about 30 to 45 minutes. Remove the cakes to cool completely and then unmold.
Enjoy the tasty carrot coconut cake, just as they are.
Carrot Coconut Cake Batter
Carrot Coconut Mini Cakes ~ Fresh Out of Oven
© Recipe and Photos Copyright 2009 Indira Singari.