With its roots in the Persian word ‘barf’ which means snow, barfi is no stranger to the dessert scene in India.
It is believed that the art of sweet making originated eight centuries ago when the people of the Indus Valley Civilisation fermented sugar and blended it with milk, thus creating the first-ever sweets.
As Sumedha Verma Ojha, author and a history writer write, “Sharkara” or shakkar is originally an Indian product made from sugarcane. Different varieties of sweets were made by mixing this with sesame seeds, wheat, rice or barley flour. Of course, rice cooked in milk and sugar — payasa or kheer has never lost its popularity.”
However, the modern-day barfi was serendipitous, when a wrestler from Punjab, Harbans Vig, decided to experiment with ingredients and created a tasty snack.
Though this was in 1912, people in Harbans’ hometown in Punjab still follow the traditional way of making the dodha barfi with germinated wheat flour, buffalo milk and sugar along with nuts and ghee and sometimes even dahi.
The sweet has many versions today and one of them, the khoya barfi, is offered in various temples in India as prashad. It is also one of the most important elements in the ‘bhog’ (offering) offered to Goddess Laxmi and Lord Jagannath.
How did this sweet become so loved?
Find out from this video.
Edited by Asha Prakash