Kaju Katli (kaju burfi, cashew barfi) is the only Indian sweet that The Husband likes that I love too, so I try to make every Diwali season. I have made kaju katli twice before this. The first time I made it, I got a perfect batch which I shared with friends but I couldn’t document the process to share the recipe and tips for beginners here, so that was that.
The second time I made it, my kaju katli was a disaster. It turned out like crispy cashew candy which, admittedly, we ate up anyway but I was quite disappointed that my first successful attempt at making kaju katli couldn’t be replicated. That really didn’t make any sense although beginner’s luck is a thing, we all know that.
Then I decided to figure out what went wrong and what I could do differently. There are many great blog posts out there detailing the steps to make the perfect kaju katli. Mine will tell you what to do (of course) and also what not to do, because I have been in both those situations. As I always say, learn from my mistakes!
Tips to Make The Perfect Kaju Katli
- The consistency of the sugar syrup is often talked about and is intimidating to beginners. It’s not hard to get that right, trust me
- As important as the sugar syrup consistency, however, is the texture of your powdered cashew nuts
- Make sure your cashew nuts are good quality, unsalted and unroasted (raw). Pop a few in your mouth and see if it’s crunchy and fresh.
- The nuts also need to be completely dry before you powder them. If using from the refrigerator, keep them outside for a minimum of 4 hours before proceeding to powder them for barfi
- The cashew nuts should be powdered in a totally dry spice grinder or mixer. I sun dry my mixer jar just to be double sure, if it’s a hot day
- While powdering the cashew nuts, use the pulse mode or do it in short bursts. If you grind the nuts too long, they will start releasing oils and turning pasty, which we don’t want
- The other very important step is the kneading of your cashew mixture after cooking. Not kneading the mixture properly will give you a crisp, candy-like texture.
- Knead the mixture when still warm for best results
- Added tip: You can sift the cashew nut flour before using, however, I avoid this step and have had no issues. The texture after grinding/pulsing needs to be as smooth as possible without big lumps or chunks
What NOT to do When Making Kaju Katli
- Do not be in a hurry
- Do not worry about one string consistency of your sugar syrup – great news right?
- Do not panic if your mixture doesn’t look right in the beginning. Follow the entire process and trust the recipe, it should turn out just fine. If not, practise makes perfect 🙂
- Do not over-pulse the cashew nuts, it will turn it pasty. This is worth repeating.
- If the mixture is not smooth and malleable as you knead it, fix it before proceeding to avoid disappointment. More on that below.
Kaju Katli Recipe
- 1 cup cashew nuts raw, unsalted, unroasted
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 teaspoons ghee
- 4 tablespoons water
- Ensure the 1 cup cashew nuts are completely dry before grinding. Place in a spice grinder and pulse at 3 second intervals 3-5 times.
- You should get uniformly powdered cashew nuts that are slightly moist (due to the natural oils in the nuts) and slightly coarse and crumbly
- Do this in smaller batches if needed, do not over crowd the grinder. Once all the cashew nuts are powdered proceed with making the sugar syrup
- Place 1/2 cup white sugar and 4 tablespoons water in a non-stick pan on medium heat
- Let the mixture boil and then keep stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved and you get a slightly thicker consistency of syrup that coats the back of your spatula (took me around 2-3 mins, so not too long)
- Add the powdered cashew nuts and lower heat
- Keep stirring continuously for about 8-10 minutes or until the mixture bubbles up and turns into a thick mass that rolls around the spatula as you stir
- The mixture may look a bit coarse due to the powdered cashew nuts, do not worry about that
- When the mixture starts rolling around and becomes hard to keep stirring, transfer to a plate and add 1 teaspoon ghee
- Let it cool down to a point where you can handle the mixture with your fingertips
- Knead gently, adding more ghee if you need, mixing in all the crusty and dry parts for about 2 minutes
- Do not exert too much pressure when kneading, katlis don’t need the same powerful kneading like rotis do
- You should soon have a very smooth dough that’s still warm
- Place between two sheets of greasing paper and roll into a circle or square that’s about 1/4″ thick
- When still warm, scour with a sharp knife into diamond-shapes
- When completely cool, separate the pieces and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator
- Kaju Katli keeps well for up to 4 days, we have never had them last beyond that
- If the cashew nut mixture feels too sticky and soft, put it back in the pan and cook for another minute or two on low heat
- If the mixture feels too dry or crumbly, add 1-2 teaspoons of milk as you knead it
- Add milk only if needed. If the mixture is moist and you are able to knead it easily, avoid the milk
- Do not scrape the sides of the pan too much once the mixture starts to thicken, the sugar will crystallise and form hard crusts along the edge of the pan and we don’t want this to be in the kaju katli
- The edible silver pieces or vark can be purchased in store and added on if you would like that store-bought look. Personally I don’t like them and request for “without silver” when I buy kaju katli in stores too
- I found this amount of sugar to be quite high, the kaju barfis were quite sheet. Next time, I’d experiment with a lesser amount but I am not sure how that would affect the overall texture. Will update here when I have tried it
Step by Step Images for Making Kaju Katli at Home
In a clean, dry spice grinder, add the cashew nuts
Pulse in 3-4 second intervals until you get moist, cashew nut powder. Do not over grind, it will turn into butter. This is the most important step in making kaju katli. The mixture will be crumbly and moist to touch and that’s perfect.
I did it in two batches since my spice grinder is quite small. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Add the water and sugar to a non-stick pan and keep on medium flame.
Bring to boil, then lower flame and keep stirring until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula. You don’t need to be scientific about this. Once the sugar has dissolved fully and you have cooked the syrup for about 2-3 minutes, proceed to the next step
Add the cashew powder to the sugar syrup. You can do this in two batches – add some first, mix and then add the rest immediately.
Ensuring that the heat is low, mix well until combined
Keep stirring, do not step away. Stir continuously.
The mixture will bubble up and the cashew nut powder will start cooking in the sugar syrup as it reduces to coat the powder. Fun!
Keep going until you see a thick mass forming and it will become quite difficult to stir the mixture anymore. The kaju mixture will start rolling around your spatula and leave the sides of the pan entirely. It took me about 8-10 minutes to get to this stage. The time will, of course, depend on your pan and the heat you are giving the mixture so go by what you see vs exact time
Transfer the mixture to a plate greased with ghee or add a teaspoon on top. Let it cook to just comfortable enough to handle.
Once you can handle the mixture safely, knead gently until all the coarse cashew nuts combine and you get a smooth dough. Do not wait too long or cool it too much, we still need the kaju katli mixture to be warm when we roll it out in the next step.
The mixture may be a bit dry around the edges or seem crumbly which is when you can add some milk. Add milk a little at a time, only use what you need. Rub more ghee on your fingertips to make the kneading easier. You can see how it is smooth in the above picture.
Once you get a smooth dough like above, make a ball, flatten slightly, and transfer to a sheet of butter paper. The dough should still be warm at this stage. If you feel it’s cooling down, act quickly.
Place another sheet over it and using a rolling pin to roll the katli mixture to about 1/4″ thickness. You can keep it thicker if you’d like.
Remove the butter paper on top.
Using a sharp knife, cut out the desired shape. You can do squares, rectangles, diamond shapes (which is probably the most popular), or even use a cookie cutter to cut out your desired shapes.
I went with the conventional diamond shapes. Let the kaju katli mixture cool completely before you break out the pieces. That will ensure the shape holds when you transfer to a storage container.
Warm kaju katli really tastes amazing but you can store these in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days. If you don’t add milk, the shelf life will be longer.
Please leave a comment if you try to make kaju katli at home following my recipe, would love to know your experience and thought about it.