This vegan version of Barfi, a classic Indian sweet, is made with just five ingredients, including nuts and cardamom. It comes together in under 30 minutes, and it's the perfect way to ditch the dairy while keeping your holidays sweet.
I'd call a barfi a fudge-like sweet, but that wouldn't do this delightful Indian treat any justice. While a fudge is spectacularly one-dimensional (sugar, anyone?), a barfi has a certain complexity to it, an ineffable deliciousness that makes it a food fit to sweeten your most special celebrations, from weddings to birthdays to the couple of dozen Indian festivals that dot the calendar each year.
Before I go any further, let me clarify, for anyone who doesn't know, that a barfi is not a single kind of a sweet: rather, it's a family of sweets, like cakes or cookies are. There are barfis made with milk, probably the most ubiquitous, barfis made with nuts, barfis made with chickpea flour, barfis made with all-purpose flour or maida, barfis made with rice flour, barfis made with coconut... you get the idea.
And the texture of a barfi varies just as greatly as the flavors do, from the firm but velvety bite of a kaju katli to the soft, cloudiness of a malai burfi to the melt-in-the-mouth brittleness of a Mysore Pak, and everything in between.
Barfis are not a particularly difficult sweet to make, but they are not always easy to veganize, because even the versions that don't rely heavily on milk do call for the use of ghee, with the ghee used more as a flavoring agent than as a fat. And while it is true that ghee adds a certain flavor many identify with Indian sweets, leaving it out, in my opinion, does not make your vegan barfi any less delicious. And you'd be doing that poor cow -- and your waistline -- a favor.
This Barfi recipe I have for you today comes together in under 30 minutes. But these are 30 dedicated minutes, so if you're planning on catching up with the laundry while the Barfi cooks, ditch that plan. Or this. Other than that, and some exercise for your right arm, this is a recipe so easy, I'm tempted to say a child could do it.
Tips for making a great vegan barfi:
- The almond flour and cashew flour should both be very finely ground. You want your barfi mixture to come together and hold together so you can cut it into squares.
- Make sure you stir your barfi mixture constantly while it's on the stove-- this will likely take about 15 minutes. Nuts have a tendency to burn because of their high fat content, and you don't want burnt bits in your barfi.
- Work over low or medium-low heat. Again, because you don't want anything to burn.
- Once your mixture starts pulling off the sides of the pan, continue stirring until your mixture goes from translucent to opaque and is not sticky anymore. Getting that stickiness out of the equation is really important or your barfi will be gummy rather than tender.
Ingredients for the vegan barfi:
- Almond flour
- Raw cashews (you will need to powder these really fine. If you can find very finely ground cashew flour, that would work too)
- Sugar (try and use a vegan cane sugar, mainly for the aesthetics. Turbinado or coconut sugar will add a dark cast to your barfi, but they are perfectly acceptable)
- Coconut oil
- Nuts for garnish -- pistachios, almonds, cashews are all fine here.
Looking for more vegan Indian sweets?
- Vegan Kaju Katli
- Vegan Carrot Pudding
- Vegan Almond Kheer
- Vegan Gulab Jamun
- Vegan Butternut Squash Cashew Halwa
- Vegan Phirni
- Vegan Gajar Halwa
- Vegan Kalakand
Vegan Barfi Recipe
- 1 cup almond flour (superfine flour works best for this)
- 1 cup raw cashews (finely powdered)
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup water
- 1 teaspoon green cardamom powder
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 tablespoon nuts (chopped, for garnish, optional)
- 2 tablespoon cashew cream (made by blending 2 tablespoon cashews into a very smooth paste with 2 tablespoon water)
- Place the water and sugar in a heavy-bottomed wok or skillet (non-stick works best for this). Add the cardamom and let it come to a boil.
- Turn the heat to low or medium-low. Add the cashew flour and almond flour and mix. Continue stirring at very frequent intervals, making sure your flour is not sticking to the bottom. If it is, scrape it up rightaway.
- Within a few minutes, the mixture will begin to pull off the sides and bottom of the pan. Add the coconut oil at this point. The mixture will be quite translucent and sticky at this stage, which will make stirring it a bit of a pain, but persist. Since stoves vary, you might want to turn up your heat just a teeny bit if this is taking too long, but around 12-15 minutes after you began cooking, the mixture should turn opaque and dry (meaning it won't be sticky anymore). If you make a ball, it should hold together. Turn off the heat at this point and remove the mixture to a bowl.
- As soon as you can handle the dough, knead it into a smooth ball. I like kneading in a little cashew cream into the mixture at this time because it just makes the barfi softer, which I love. You can skip this step.
- Lay a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet or a flat baking pan. Pat out the barfi mixture on it in an even layer, about six inches square (or thinner, if you want thinner barfis). Press the sides to make them as even as possible.
- Press some nuts for garnish on the top and let the barfi cool completely. When cool, cut the barfi into pieces. The barfi will store in the refrigerator for at least a week.
How long can you store the barfi And how would you store it? In fridge?
Hi Anita, it should be fine for about a week in the refrigerator.
Hi Vaishali :
I love this recipe and planning to make the second time.
Could I grind the cashews with 1/4 cup water and remaining 1/4 cup water melt the sugar ?
Also could I substitute sugar with Monk sweet sugar which might help me being diabetic ?
Thank you so much !
Hi Kimm, the cashew flour does need to roast a bit to get to the right consistency, so I am a bit wary about the idea of blending the cashews with half the water. That said, I think it's worth experimenting to see if it might work--the water is not much so it would evaporate quickly.
I think subbing the monk fruit sweetener would be fine but sugar also adds some moisture to the recipe so you might get a dryer barfi.
If you do try these tweaks, I'd love to hear how it goes, and other readers might benefit too!
LCV in Vermont
I had a little mishap with over cooking, first. It sort of seized and dried out. So I put everything back in the blender with a little water and cooked a bit longer. The second time I may have pulled it off the heat too soon, because it was still a sticky. But, the result was delicious and I'm sure I'll get the consistency right with practice. ?
Hi, yes, it does tend to dry out if left too long in the skillet. Glad you could salvage it. 🙂
Great instructions and the clarification about measuring the cashews before grinding was helpful. Thanks for this wonderful sweet option for vegans! It's a little exotic piece of a larger escape plan! LOL
So happy you enjoyed the barfi. A favorite around our home for sure!
Hi. Am making this for the first time, great easy recipe and instructions. One? When cooking, my mixture has turned brown, in your photos the barfi is normal white colour. What did I do wrong?
It's possible you let your sugar cook too long, which will cause it to caramelize.
Instead of vegan butter or coconut oil try with almond butter and cashew butter and I use saffron and edible camphor which gives it a rich flavor and taste try it you’ll love it.
Want to clarify ... if I grind my own cashews, do I start with 1 cup of raw cashew pieces (that's what I have on hand) or do I want one cup once they are ground? Or, if I use purchased cashew flour, 1 cup? Thanks!
Measure the cashews first, then grind them.
Hey Vaishali, we’ve allergies to all nuts except almonds. What can I use in place of cashew powder? Would coconut flour work?
Hi Meena, I am not sure how coconut flour would stand up to the heating. It could burn. If you can use almond powder, try that instead.
super cool recipe! Just one silly question though,is it possible to substitute the nuts flour with oat flour? Or any other nut or gluten free flour?
Thank you so much for this great recipe, it was a success!!
Hi Alessia, you could, but the results would be very different and not like a barfi at all.
Thank you so much for this excellent vegan recipe! I made it today exactly according to your recipe and it turned out very well.
If I don't have a blender to grind cashews fine enough, can I use just almond flour?
And is cashew cream and butter the same?
Hi Sharmila, it should work with almond flour. And no, cashew butter and cream are not the same. Cashew butter is made much like peanut butter, by grinding the nuts alone. Cashew cream is made by blending raw cashews with a liquid to create an ingredient that resembles cream and can substitute for it in recipes. Hope that clarifies things!
Thank you Vashali, I tried the recipe today with all the recommended ingredients, quantities and method. However, the colour was quite brown and there was a lot of oil after 10-15 minutes of cooking, is this normal?
Also, to make it more creamy and white in colour do you think a plant based milk instead of water could work?
The recipe was easy to follow. Thank you
Hi, it could be because you used almonds--they tend to color darker in recipes, from what I've experienced. You can try using plant-based milk but I don't think that'll really change the color much if you're using almond flour.
Thanks, I used almond and cashew flour both are whiteish but went dark after a few kinds of adding to the pan. Also do you think the oil was from the nuts?
I will definitely try again with plant based milk and maybe just cashew flour and minus the coconut oil.
Thank you! 🙂
Wow, such a brilliant combo of flavors! I’ve never tried barfi but I’m so eager to give this a try. I believe all the ingredients really work together and create a meal that tastes incredible. This would be perfect for any occasion. Plus, the recipe is really easy to follow. Can’t wait to taste it. Really in the mood for something like this. Btw, do you think this will turn out as delicious if I replace white sugar?
Thank you for this treasure and all of your helpful tips for making the perfect vegan barfi. Look forward to your new recipes. Your blog is wonderful. I really appreciate all the hard work that goes into it. Keep it up!
I thought these were great. Your instruction descriptions are also very helpful. If, like me, anyone thinks that something described isn't going to happen then stay patient, it will! Next time I make these I'll know what to expect and when.
I used vegan butter and different spices (cinnamon, cloves, ginger) and this was still an (inauthentic!) success. Brilliant as a quick treat with a cup of tea. Thanks!
I do agree. Would love to have white sugar substitutes. I cannot make the wonderful recipes which contain all this white sugar
What a yummy idea!
I spent some time in India and it was so much fun to explore the food and be in such a beautiful culture.
I have a diagnosis now which makes sugar a prohibited ingredient. Oils also are taxing.
I wonder if you can please experiment with monk fruit or stevia for sweetener for those of us who are restricted due to health concerns.
I am also gluten free and vegan.
Have you ever tried making brown rice Mochi?
You give so much joy in what you are presenting!
I hope to actually try more cooking at some point.
Thank you for so much expression of creativity and love! ?
Looks like an easy and yummy recipe!
I’m looking forward to trying it!