As a child I loved the kaddu (bottle gourd) ki mithai (as we called it) that my mom used to make. She would first cook it in the pan on the stove and then bake it in a huge silver plated brass pie plate with a heavy lid. As we had no gas or electric oven she used her primitive baking technique of placing it over a layer of burning coals and then adding another layer of burning coals on the lid. It was amazing to watch her bake using this technique whenever she made traditional sweets or indian pies and cookies like baked halwa pooris, nan khatai etc.
I made this recipe based on estimates by tasting as my mom used to do, but I kept a tab on what and how much I was adding each time. My mom would dissolve the saffron in milk and add it to the mixture while cooking. But I decided to use it more as a garnish. I also added pistachios to complement the green color of the bottle gourd. The result was fabulous! The intense sweet milky taste combined with the juicy and chewy texture of the gourd kicked up a notch. Indeed, it did taste like my mom’s kaddu ki mithai that I used to enjoy.
Here’s the recipe:
1 cup bottle gourd ( after squeezing out the water)
350 gm khoya (dried milk)
2 tbs ghee
1 1/2 – 2 cups sugar
2 tbs milk
a pinch saffron
2 tbs pistachios
a few drops of green liquid food coloring
1. Peel the bottle gourd cut off the stem, trim the bottom and cut it into two halves vertically.
2. Scoop out the pulp and seeds in the center with a teaspoon and discard them.
3. Grate the gourd finely, squeeze out the juice by hanging it in a cheese cloth overnight or for a few hours.
4. Melt 2 tbs ghee in a non-stick sauce pan on medium heat and lightly fry the grated gourd till it turns translucent.
5. Add 1 1/2 cups sugar, stir and mix well.
6. Grind the khoya to a fine powder and add to the pan. Add 2 tbs milk, green food coloring and mix well. Add more sugar if needed according to how much sweeter you want it.
7. Cook on low or medium low heat only while stirring continuously.
8. Allow the gourd mixture to thicken and when it starts leaving the sides of the pan, remove and put it in a baking dish greased with ghee at the bottom as well as on all the sides.
9. Sprinkle the saffron threads and halved pistachios on top, cover with tin foil and bake in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees fahrenheit for 20-25 mins or till lightly golden at the bottom.
10. Remove from the oven, allow it to cool down, then chill it in the refrigerator, cut into diamond shapes and serve chilled. The bottle gourd burfi is ready to enjoy.
1. Cook very gently with patience on low and medium low heat only.
2. Take care not to over brown or burn the grated gourd shreds while cooking or baking.