Diwali Special Besan Burfee or Mohanthal

My earliest memories of Diwali are those of a diya and mandana (the rangoli from Rajasthan) decorated home and big thaalis (large plates) of Besan chakki put to set a night prior to Chhoti Diwali/Roop chaudas. Also called besan burfee and Mohanthal, this is a rich and festive must-do confection for Holi and Diwali in my family. The recipe has been in my mother’s family for generations!

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So here goes

Besan/gram flour- 1 kg
Desi Ghee- 1 kg
Khoy/maawa,grated – 1 kg
Sugar- 1 kg
Cardamom, powdered- 1 tbsp
Slivered almonds- ½ cup
Water- to knead the besan

Add water gradually to the besan to knead a medium firm dough. Take pinches off the dough and flatten to make dumplings/muthiyas.



Heat the ghee and fry then muthiyas on a medium flame for about 10 minutes.



Break the muthiyas and grind them in the mixer.

Run through a thick sieve.

Add the sieved besan to the same ghee in which the muthiyas were fried.

Roast on a medium flame for 10- 12 minutes till it begins to change colour.
Add the grated khoya and mix well.

Meanwhile prepare sugar syrup with a kilo of sugar and with just enough water to cover the sugar (I added 220 mils). Make syrup of 1 ½ string consistency. To check the string consistency, dip a dry spoon in the syrup, wait for about 20 seconds and swipe your index finger on the spoon. Touch your thumb to your index finger repeatedly and see the strings that form. One clear string and a few small strings mean 1 ½ string sugar syrup.
After the khoya and the besan mixture is well blended,  (about 10 minutes after adding the khoya) turn off the heat.
Add the sugar syrup, cardamom powder and mix well.
Transfer to thaalis/ plates and top with slivered almonds.

Leave to set overnight.
Cut into desired shapes and serve.
The above measurements make about three kilos of besan burfees and these stay good without refrigeration for up to a fortnight.
Happy Diwali 😀


Kalakand or Milk Cake




I have sweet childhood memories of feasting on ‘Alwar ka Kalakand’ brought back by my maternal uncle , who was posted there back then. The milk cake from Alwar comes in a block which is blonde at the top and gets darker towards the bottom. I always loved the bottom layer the best!

Milk cake or Kalakand  is simple desi ‘mithai’ which is primarily a two ingredient wonder, the third being patience .Surprisingly, I had never made it till I saw a post on Chef at Large by my friend Souvik Mukherjee.  The perfect dark  squares left me craving for a piece! An hour and half of stirring and some adjustments to Souvik’s fantastic basic recipe and I had these delicious fudge like ‘Gulab Kalakand’ . Thanks buddy! Had it not been for me, I would have never tried my hand at this wonder.
Here is how I made it
Full Cream milk- 2 litres
Vinegar- 2 tsp (Souvik suggests adding ½ a tsp of alum/fitkari. I didn’t have any and vinegar worked fine)
Sugar- 90 gms (I like the sugar low, you may increase. The original recipe suggests 150 gms)
Gulkand- 2 Tbsp (Optional) (Any fruit pulp may be added to get flavoured kalakand)
Honey – 2 Tbsp
Desi Ghee/clarified butter- 2 Tbsp

In a heavy bottomed pan/kadhai bring the milk to boil and reduce to half. Keep stirring to avoid burning.
Add the vinegar and sugar, and continue to thicken.
When it comes together add the honey and ghee and cook till the mixture leaves the sides of the pan. Add the gulkand.
Transfer to a ghee-greased thaali/large plate and leave to set for a few hours.
Garnish with pistachios or cashews.
Cut into squares and serve.