Banarasi Tirangi Barfi

One of the most iconic and celebrated sweets of Kashi is Tirangi Barfi. Also known as Rashtriya Barfi, this unique creation is the handiwork of Shri Raghunath Das Gupta of Shree Ram Bhandar in Thatheri Bazar.


The British from the late 1700s right up to the mid – 1940s had managed to successfully loot the ancient temples, desecrate several Hindu shrines of importance, extort from rich merchants, harass the Brahmins living there and interfere in the Gurukul system of education by inculcating their Western ideology, ethics, morals and way of life and mocking Advaita philosophy and the Hindu scriptures. Such was the oppression, that several reputable Hindu families left their ancestral home and the city overnight.


By the 1940s, the anger against the British had reached the tipping point and the British knowing full well that the Indians were poised to fight back passed a law banning the unfurling of the Bhartiya flag as well as eating paan! Their paranoia was a thing of amusement for the locals of Banaras who decided to taunt them in their own way.


Shri Raghunath Das Gupta came up with the ingenious idea to make a barfi representing the colours of independent India and distribute it to all. Soon, the residents of the sacred city began to walk around with a barfi in each hand! This obviously annoyed the British who could not do much.


In its own way, this barfi played an important role in reminding and motivating people to demand their right and fight harder for freedom from the tyranny of the parasitic British. The barfi used to be prepared with badamkaju and pista. The almonds used to be soaked, ground to a fine paste and then roasted in desi ghee. This was then mixed with kesar to form the orange layer.


The white layer was similarly prepared using cashews and the green layer was made from pistachios. However, the cost of preparation increased over the years and modifications needed to be made.


Tirangi barfi is made from khoya, powdered sugar, desi gheekesar, spices and nuts. First, the khoya is grated and kept aside. Saffron strands are soaked in milk for a few minutes.


The grated khoya and powdered sugar are heated on low flame and constantly stirred till it has a smooth consistency. Cardamom powder is added and the mixture is stirred well. It is divided into three parts and kept aside.


Kesar or orange food colouring is added to one part, finely ground pistachios or green food colouring is added to the second portion and grated coconut or coconut powder or finely ground cashews is added to the third part.


The three batters are spread evenly on a greased plate one on top of the other with the orange layer in the bottom, the white in the middle and the green on top.


After it has set, it is turned over to accurately represent the Indian National Flag with orange on the top, white in the middle and green in the bottom. The barfi is garnished with finely chopped almonds and pistachios. Sometimes, the layers are set in individual trays and then placed one on top of the other after it has set.


Written by Lakshmi Subramanian


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