29 September, 2014
Navaratri special- Coconut, cashew halwa with a secret healthy ingredient (gluten-free, milk-free)
Navaratri is an Indian festival that motivates me to make an Indian sweet, as I call people home to celebrate the function in the evening.
Last week, I had fresh coconut with me and thought of making a variation of my mango halwa. Alas, I did not have any mango pulp or the fruit in the pantry! Nevertheless, I soaked cashews, shredded the coconut and set out making a sweet, thinking it would be a new coconut burfi recipe, without any milk or condensed milk in it. I think I have said before- I’m not a fan of stirring for a long period of time, so avoiding milk was to minimize stirring time. I had only a few hours before the guests were supposed to visit!
As I was mixing the coconut and cashew paste with sugar, it seemed that it needed something else. Something that would bind it and bring it all together, but I wanted it also to be gluten-free. So I selected some GF oat flour, and voilà! I have an Indian sweet with whole grain but still doesn’t taste like oatmeal! In fact, none of my guests was able to guess this ingredient in the halwa. I call it ‘halwa’ because it is not hard enough to be called a ‘burfi’- the consistency is between the two.
I made it another time with unsweetened frozen coconut, and got the exact same taste as the first time. So, here it is- an easy sweet with minimal stirring time and healthy ingredients.
With the approval of everybody who tasted this- here is the recipe. 🙂
Coconut, cashew halwa with secret healthy ingredient
unsweetened shredded coconut (fresh/frozen)- 1 1/4 cup
whole cashews- 3/4 cup
(GF) powdered oats – 1/4 cup (oats do not have to be gluten free)
sugar- 1/2 cup (use raw sugar for vegan option)
ghee (clarified butter)- 2 tbsp. (use coconut oil for vegan option)
cardamom powder- 1/8 tsp.
saffron strands- a few
1. Soak cashews in hot water for 12 hours. Drain water and grind in a blender to a smooth paste with minimal added water, about 1/8 cup. You could add shredded coconut to facilitate the blending process.
2. Heat sugar in a non-stick pan with 1 tbsp. water. After it melts, add coconut, cashew paste. Stir in cardamom powder and ghee.
3. After a few minutes, add oat flour, stir.
4. Stir for 10-12 minutes till the mixture thickens and leaves the sides of the pan.
5. Transfer to a greased dish. Flatten with the back of a flat cup or tumbler. After it cools, refrigerate for 1-2 hours (refrigeration is optional if there is no time). Cut into squares and press a broken roasted cashew and saffron strands in each for garnish.