Indian Cooking Challenge: Varo
The recipe for October’s Indian cooking challenge is Sindhi sweet called Varo, a dry fruits or nuts brittle. Nuts brittle also called chikki, is made of jaggery in South India, unlike varo which is made of sugar. Valli gave us two recipes and I adapted both the versions to make my varo. Madhvi gave grams and cup measures for the ingredients and I followed her recipe. Simply Sindhi Recipes used mixed nuts in her preparation and so did I. Both these recipes called for dry coconut and poppy seeds and I used neither. It was a simple preparation but the toughest part of the preparation was cutting and breaking the varo. That was the most challenging step of this preparation. I had caramelized sugar flying in all directions in the kitchen and by the time I was done breaking the varo, I also had caramelized sugar trinkets in my hair!
- 250 gms Sugar
- 150 gms chopped Nuts; Pistachios, Walnuts and Pecans
- 1/2 tsp Cardamom Powder
- Oil to grease the plate
- Grease back of a plate or a baking try or a cutting board to spread the varo. I used a 2 qt square pyrex baking tray. It was just the right size but I felt I should have used a bigger tray to give myself enough room to work with. Also, keep a rolling pin handy to roll out the varo and a knife to cut it.
- Heat sugar in a heavy bottom pan, on a medium flame.
- Stir the sugar as it melts. Once all of the sugar melts and caramelizes, add cardamom powder and nuts.
- Mix well so that the caramel coats the nuts properly.
- Remove from heat and pour on the greased surface and spread the caramelized nuts evenly with the spoon. If you wish, you could use a rolling pin but I did not find the need to use it though. Also, do remember that the caramel mixture hardens very fast as soon as it is removed form the heat.
- Let it cool for few minutes.
- Cut the caramelized nuts into desired shape. At this point, I was elated, mission accomplished! Valli chose an easy recipe for this month! Little did I know how wrong I was… I cut the varo into desired shape and went back to watch tv and let it cool.
- When I came back 10 – 15 minutes later to check on my varo, it had cooled but the cuts I made on the varo were invisible now. Thus began the struggle to break the brittle!
- As Madhavi suggested, I broke the varo using a knife along the cuts I had made earlier. I had to put some extra pressure to cut the varo and at times used my motor pesto as a hammer to break it. Since I greased the bottom of the tray with liberal amount of oil, once I made a clear cut, it was easy to pull it off the tray. Breaking the varo into pieces was a tug of war but munching it wasn’t.
- Next time I prepare it, I will add some butter or oil to caramelized sugar. Wondering if this might help when breaking the varo.