Pistachio Barfi

In Indian and Middle Eastern shops, pistachio kernels are sold which are not the usual roasted, salted pistachios in shells. It is these softer kernels which are used whenever pistachios are called for in recipes.


125 g/4 oz raw pistachio kernels
1 litre/2 pints/4 cups full-cream milk
220 g/7 oz caster sugar
pinch of ground cardamom (optional)
gold or silver leaf (optional)


Drop the pistachio kernels into a small pan of boiling water and boil for 1 minute. Tip into a strainer and run cold water over to set the colour. Slip off the skins and pound the nuts or pass them through a nut mill.

Grease a flat plate and back of a large spoon with ghee and have ready for when the mixture has been cooked.

In a medium to large pan with heavy base boil the milk over high heat, stirring constantly, until it is very thick. Add sugar, lower heat and stir for 10 minutes. Add ground pistachios and continue to cook, stirring, until the mixture comes away from the sides and base of pan in one mass. Remove from heat, sprinkle cardamom over and mix well. Turn onto the greased plate and smooth top with back of spoon. Cool slightly, mark in squares or diamond shapes with back of a knife. Decorate with halved pistachio nuts and small pieces of silver leaf if liked. Before it is quite firm, use a sharp knife to cut along the markings, but leave until cold before separating pieces. May be wrapped and stored airtight for up to two weeks.

Recipe excerpted from Encyclopedia of Asian Food by Charmaine Solomon (Periplus Editions, 1998)