Barfi, barfee, or burfi is a dense milk based sweet confectionery from India, a type of mithai. Originally from the northern part of India, the name is a derivative of the Hindi word for snow and ice. The name also originates from the Persian word barf, which means snow. A few of the famous varieties of barfi include besan barfi (made with gram flour), kaaju barfi (made with cashews), pista barfi (made with ground pistachios), and sing barfi (made with peanuts). The main ingredients of plain barfis include condensed milk and sugar. The ingredients are cooked in a vessel until the mixture solidifies.
The flavor of a barfi is often enhanced with fruits (such as mango or coconut) or nuts (such as cashew, pistachio, or peanut) and spices (such as cardamom or rose water). Barfis are usually coated with a thin layer of edible metallic leaf known as vark. They are typically cut into square, diamond, or round shapes. The sweet is easily adapted for casual occasions to the most formal event, which explains its great and enduring popularity. Different types of Barfi vary in their color and texture.
The most popular spice used to flavor this dessert is cardamom. However, dependent on where it is prepared, many different flavorings are added to this simple but popular dessert. Adding edible silver leaf (vark) to the edges of barfi is popular when the sweet confection is to be served at an important event such as a wedding or other such occasion. For added flavor and to provide a colorful contrast, often it is rolled in crushed nuts before it is served.
The confection is served in India, all year round, but especially consumed during the holiday seasons, wedding ceremonies, and the religious festivals. Barfi is served quite often at Diwali. This is the celebration of the Hindu festival of lights. The traditional Hindu cuisine is an important part of these annual festivities, along with firework displays and specially crafted decorative lamps.