Pistachio burfi is a delightful example of a traditional Indian milk sweet, where boiling, sweetened milk is reduced gradually until it thickens to a fudge-like paste. Note that, as all burfis, pistachio burfi will firm up as it sits. If you keep it well covered, you can store it for up to 10 days in the refrigerator.
PREPARATION AND COOKING TIME: about 1½ hours
YIELD: 36 small pieces of fudge
2 litres fresh whole milk
1¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ghee or unsalted butter
½ teaspoon powdered cardamom seeds
1 cup raw blanched pistachio nuts, chopped fine.
edible pure silver or gold foil (optional)
Combine milk, sugar, ghee and cardamom in a 5-litre saucepan, preferably non-stick. Bring the milk to a rolling boil over moderate heat and continue to cook it, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon for about 45 minutes, or until the milk has reduced to a thick bubbling creamy mass, about half its original volume.
Continue to reduce the fudge, stirring continuously with gently rhythmic strokes for a further 10 minutes, or until the mixture resembles a thick paste.
Add the pistachio nuts, reduce the heat to medium low, and cook the fudge, stirring and scraping with the wooden spoon for further 20 minutes or until the mixture becomes a thick dry lump. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool for one minute. You should have about 2½ cups fudge.
Transfer the fudge to a shallow, buttered tray. As the mixture cools a little more, use a buttered spatula to shape it into a smooth, flat cake, about 15cm square. Allow the fudge to cool for a further one hour.
With a minimum of handling, slip the sheets of silver or gold foil over the fudge and press down gently with the backing paper, allowing the foil to adhere to the fudge.
Cut the fudge into 36 pieces with a sharp, buttered knife. You may need to wipe the knife clean after each cut. Alternatively, divide the still-warm fudge into 36 pieces and press into decorative molds. Serve, or store in airtight containers for up to 2 weeks.