This was months ago that Srivalli had discussed with Alka and set the challenge for the members. The recipe was from Simply Sindhi Recipes. They had all tried it for Deepavali. By then I had just relocated to Lagos and was cooking just about survival. Such be the state thinking of dishing out goodies for Deepavali was very remote.
Days rolled and there was no sign of progress with out residence permits and hence the import of personal effects. I invested in a branded non stick pan just to cook something a bit more elaborate. Soon it was the Karthigai deepam festival and I was not about to make the regular goodies that go with the festivities. But I wanted to cook and offer some dish and I decided to try the varo. It was very similar to the Lonavala Chikkis. During this trial, I timed the duration that the sugar took to caramelise and such....that is how much time I had on hand.
Sugar 250 grams
Sliced mixed nuts 100 ml cup loaded
Ghee 1 tablespoon to coat the surface of the utensil
and little more to generously coat the surface of the board
(Water 1 tablespoon, if you are not using ghee to coat the utensil)
Coarsely powdered green cardamom
(the recipe uses poppy seeds and scrapped coconut which I did not use due to non- availability)
Prepare a surface and keep handy. You may either use the back of a flat plate, your clean kitchen counter-top. I had my wooden cutting board generously smeared with ghee.
I have used a large nonstick sauce pan where the recommened utensil was a heavy kadai.
Coat the 1 tablespoon ghee along the surface of the utensil.
Slice blanched almonds, cashews, walnuts etc and keep ready.If using the poppy seeds rinse them thoroughly in water and strain. Alka says that it reduces the morphine content. Not only that washing removes impurities!
Place the pan on heat. Add the sugar. And you wait and wonder if anything is happening at all. The sugar remains as it is until about 12 minutes. But soon it melts and by the 17 th minute or so you have a beautiful amber liquid state sugar caramel! Switch the stove off.Again you might switch the stove off at your desired caramel consistency. A lighter caramel results in chewy varos while a darker one gives you brittle ones. The amber colour achieves crisp yet somewhat hard varos.
Quickly add the sliced nuts and give a brisk stir as to coat the nuts thoroughly with the caramel. This also ensures even distribution of the nuts in the caramel. If you may allow even a few extra minute the caramel will solidify if only slightly.
Transfer as quickly as possible to the prepared greased surface. Try to pour out evenly and tap or tilt the surface to be rid of bubbles.
Trying to smooth with the back of the spatula is said to cause the praline lose the lusture. Moreover, the varo does not have to necessarily have a smooth surface. The peaks here and there add to the texture of the sweet.You may have to break the varo thus set with a pestle, possibly.
I made it in thin slices than shown in Alka's blog and did not have to use much muscle strength to break the pieces. Thus we consumed smaller portions at a time!
I have enjoyed making this and consuming as well. Hope you all do too.