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Kaju Katli – This delicious Diwali dessert is popular with people of all ages. Learn how to make this Indian sweet dish that looks and tastes just like the ones from the store.
Kaju barfi is this diamond-shaped fudge made from 2 key ingredients – cashew and sugar syrup. It is also called katli, which means pieces.
It is soft and fudgy and is extremely addictive. You can never just eat one unless you have self-control, which I clearly don’t.
If you grew up in Mumbai, you probably know Chandu Halwai – a popular sweet shop that made the best kaju barfis! The kaju barfi that we get in the US is nowhere close to it, neither in taste nor texture, so I decided to make it at home.
After four attempts to recreate that magic, everyone in my house begged me to give up and get store-bought ones.
But I really didn’t want to, and here’s why.
We all have that special sweet that we make or bring home to memorialize big or small events. For us, it was Kaju Barfi (Kaju Katli).
My dad would buy this soft and melt-in-your-mouth barfi from Chandi Halwai for us kids every time we did really well in school or when it was Diwali, Rakshabandhan, and our birthdays.
When we were in our 20s, we moved out of the country to pursue our education and career, but one thing never changed – whenever we came back home, Dad would have a box of Kaju Barfi waiting for us.
So this is for you, Dad, who taught me never to give up. I owed it to you to try and try till I got it right, and finally, I did.
How to make kaju barfi
Ingredients – Unroasted and unsalted cashews, milk powder, sugar, water, cardamom, ghee, and silver leaf (optional)
The process of making kaju barfi is pretty straightforward and can be summarized in a few easy steps, but there are some important tips and tricks you need to know to nail this recipe, and here they are –
Tips for failproof kaju barfi
Here’s what you need to do so that you get it right the first time
- Grind cashews in batches – This will help the cashews grind quickly, and they’ll not release oil.
- Sift through the cashew powder with your fingers to remove any cashew chunks. Alternatively, run it through a sieve.
- Use a non-stick pan so that the cashew mixture doesn’t stick and burn.
- Make sure to check for one-string consistency. This is what gives the barfi a crumbly texture.
- Cook the cashew mixture on low heat to avoid burning.
- Cook until the mixture leaves the pan’s sides, and you can roll them into a ball.
- Knead it to smoothen out the texture.
- Wait for 15-20 minutes before cutting the barfi.
Grind cashew to a fine powder – use a spice grinder for best results. If you don’t own one, you can use a food processor but run the cashew powder through a sieve. It is important for a smooth texture.
Note: Sift through the cashew powder to remove any cashew chunks.
Add milk powder along with cardamom powder and mix well.
Boil sugar and water in a non-stick pan until you get a sugar syrup with one-string consistency.
To test one string consistency, place a droplet of sugar syrup on your thumb, press your index finger on it, and then pull them apart – a string of sugar syrup should connect the two.
Reduce the flame to low. Add the cashew powder to the sugar syrup. Add 2 teaspoons of ghee.
Continue to cook until the cashew mixture leaves the pan’s sides. At this point, take a small amount of cashew mixture and try to roll it into a ball.
If you are able to do that without the mixture sticking to your fingers, then the mixture is ready. If not, continue to cook till you reach that stage.
Grease a silicone mat or parchment paper with ghee. Transfer the mixture onto the mat. Allow it cool for 3-4 minutes till it is cool enough to handle.
Knead the dough for about 2-3 minutes till it is soft and pliable.
Cover the dough with parchment paper.
Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to your designed thickness ( I prefer 1/2 inches thick). Let it cool for about 10-15 minutes.
If you are using silver leaf, delicately place it on the rolled cashew dough.
To get the diamond shape, first, cut it vertically and then cut in a diagonal fashion. Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife for best results.
The barfi will harden in a few hours and will be perfectly soft and fudgy.
Store it in the refrigerator for about 7-10 days. Let it come to room temperature before serving.
Kaju barfi ideally needs only 3 ingredients – cashews, sugar, and water (Check out Manali’s recipe here for kaju katli with no milk powder).
I added milk powder because I was trying to replicate the taste and texture of the sweet from Chandu Halwai, which I absolutely love.
Let’s do a quick recap of the common mistakes while making kaju katli and how to avoid them –
- Chewy – Cashews were ground till the oil was released.
- The cashew mixture is not setting – the cashew mixture has not cooked properly. Continue to cook for a few more minutes.
- Grainy texture – The cashews were not ground to a fine powder.
Other Diwali sweets that you should try this festive season
- Chocolate barfi
- Mysore Pak
- Besan laddoo
- Rava laddoo
- Kalakand ( and here’s a recipe for Mango and Anjeer (fig) )
- Coconut barfi
Kaju Katli (Barfi) / Cashew Fudge
- Grind the cashews into a fine powder in ½ cup increments. For best results use a spice grinder. If you don't own one, you can use a food processor but make sure to run the cashew powder through a sieve. It is important for a smooth texture.
- Add milk powder to the cashew flour and mix well.
- Boil sugar and water together in a non-stick pan till you get a sugar syrup with one-string consistency. To test one string consistency, place a droplet of sugar syrup on your thumb and press your index finger on it and then pull them apart – a string of sugar syrup should connect the two.
- Reduce the flame to low. Add the cashew + milk powder mixture to the sugar syrup.
- Add 2 teaspoons of ghee along with cardamom powder. Continue to cook until the cashew mixture starts leaving the sides of the pan.
- Take a small amount of cashew mixture and try to roll it into a ball. If it does not stick to your fingers, the mixture is cooked. Turn off heat.
- Grease a silicone mat or parchment paper with ghee. Transfer the mixture onto the mat. Allow it cool for 3-4 minutes till it is cool enough to handle.
- Knead the dough for about 2-3 minutes till it is soft and pliable.
- Cover the dough with parchment paper.
- Using a rolling pin, roll the dough to your designed thickness ( I prefer 1/2 inches thick at least).
- Cover it with parchment paper and let it cool for about 10-15 minutes.
- If you are using silver leaf, delicately place it on the rolled cashew dough.
- To get the diamond shape, first, cut it vertically and then cut in a diagonal fashion. Use a pizza cutter or a sharp knife for best results.
- The barfi will harden in a few hours and will be perfectly soft and fudgy.
- Store it in the refrigerator for about 7-10 days. Let it come to room temperature before serving.
Disclaimer: Approximate nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.
This recipe was first published on Oct 22, 2014, and updated with text and instructions on November 09, 2020.