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Recipes

Pooja's Sindhi Varo (Nut Brittle)

Pooja's Sindhi Varo (Nut Brittle)

Pooja's Sindhi Varo (Nut Brittle)

Recipe By:

Pooja Makhijani

Brittle, often made with ghee and jaggery, is a common sweet treat across South Asia, and varieties are named after the ingredients used, from sesame seeds and puffed rice to nuts and desiccated coconut. My favorite brittle, varo, originates in Sindh, Pakistan’s southwest province, to where my paternal and maternal families trace their roots. Varo was a fixture of my childhood, a perfect comfort food, and both my late grandmothers touted its warming properties, as well as its nutritive ones: the nuts are full of protein! The jaggery is full of iron! - Pooja

Ingredients

  • 100 g (¾ cup) slivered nuts (a mix of almonds, pistachios, or cashews)
  • 100 g (½ cup) jaggery or white or brown granulated sugar
  • 56 g (4 Tbsp.) ghee or unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp. Baraka Cardamom powder
  • 2 tsp. white poppy seeds
  • Pinch of saffron (optional)
  • ½ tsp. sea salt

    Method

    1. Prepare a work surface by greasing liberally with ghee or butter; grease a rolling pin as well.
    2. In a heavy-bottomed pot over low heat, bring ghee and jaggery to a low boil. Stir constantly.
    3. If using a thermometer: When the sugar mixture is just shy of 300F, add salt, cardamom, poppy seeds, and saffron. Keep stirring! Once the sugar mixture has reached 300F, remove from flame and add the nuts. Work quickly and make sure that all the nuts are coated with sugar mixture.
    4. If not using a thermometer: When the sugar has turned amber and a drop of the caramel in ice cold water hardens into a crunchy toffee, add salt, cardamom, poppy seeds, and saffron. While still stirring, remove from flame and add the nuts. Work quickly and make sure that all the nuts are coated with sugar mixture.
    5. Pour onto the greased surface, and roll as thinly as possible, into an 8” by 8” slab. (Again, work quickly.) Allow to set, 30 to 45 minutes, and break or cut into bite-sized pieces.

    Recipe notes: 

    • Varo is made with ghee (clarified butter) and jaggery (unrefined cane sugar), but you can substitute the ghee with unsalted butter and the jaggery with granulated sugar. (Brown sugar preferred, but white is fine if that’s all you have.) Refined sugar doesn’t have jaggery’s earthy and spicy notes, but the cooking chemistry remains the same, and the final product will still be delicious, I promise!
    • Also, it’s crucial to have your ingredients ready before starting; varo comes together fairly quickly, and the sugar can burn if you don’t watch it carefully.