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Our South Indian recipes

Puffed Buckwheat Bars

Neeru Ravi

buckwheat bars, healthy, onelifetwoways, south indian, vegan, recipe

Crunchy, crisp, sweet and moreish. These absolutely hit the spot when you're looking for that slightly sweet snack - and our recipe saves you the guilt by using unrefined sugar!

One of our favourite South Indian snacks is the 'pori urandai' – a.k.a puffed rice ball. These sweet spheres are commonly made around November to celebrate the South Indian festival of lights - Karthikai. No not Deepavali - we have another festival of lights! Apparently one isn't enough.

In this recipe, we've swapped the puffed rice for puffed buckwheat to shake things up and add a different flavour dimension. In case you haven't tasted it before - it's a bit like popcorn! 

Buckwheat is a naturally nutritious grain with 'buck'et loads of goodness, which when popped results in crunchy little pillows. And it's gluten-free too! 

Toasting the puffed buckwheat means it stays crisp once combined with the sweet syrupy mixture and retains its crunch perfectly once set.

These bars are studded with juicy raisins and crunchy almonds for extra taste and texture. We've used one of our favourite unrefined sugars from down South - Jaggery, a dark earthy sweetener made from sugar cane. To pack in a different kind of sweetness, we've thrown in some dark agave nectar and finished it off with lots of ground cardamom for festive measure.

Shape them however you fancy- baubles, bars, triangles... and if you store them in an airtight container, they'll last you all week. Feel free to swap in whatever dried fruits or nuts you fancy. Cashews, cranberries, pecans and sultanas could all work well.

Toast, mix, set and enjoy!

Love,

N & N

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Time: 35 mins
Makes: 15-20 squares

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups toasted puffed buckwheat (You should be able to get this in most health food stores. If you can't find it, feel free to use any other puffed grain: rice, quinoa...)
  • 3/4 cup jaggery 
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 4 tbsps water
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted almonds
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 tsp coconut oil for greasing

Method:

  1. Toast the buckwheat in the oven at 180°C for 5 mins or until crispy (it shouldn’t colour or burn)
  2. Grease a metal dish (around ½ inch deep) with coconut oil
  3. Heat the water in a pan along with the jaggery and the agave nectar
  4. Mix and melt. It need to reaches a certain consistency in order to stick the buckwheat together and set properly. This can be a little tricky to spot. So to test if the sugar syrup has reached the correct stage, drop little spoonfuls of the hot sugar syrup into a cup of cold water. If you’re able to roll it into balls in the water then you’re good to go. Cooking isn't just about seeing, smelling and tasting, you also need to use other senses, and touch is the perfect one here!
  5. When the sugar syrup reaches this stage, add in the cardamom, toasted buckwheat, raisins and almonds and stir well to mix.
  6. Pour into the greased dish and flatten out. Or you can even shape them into balls – but be careful, the mixture will be hot!
  7. Let it set for 10 mins and then cut into squares.

Crunch away!

Spice Advice - Jaggery

Jaggery is a dark, earthy, unrefined sugar, which is made from sugar cane juice, date palm sap or a combination of the two. Unlike regular sugar, Jaggery is rich in minerals and iron. It also has a more complex structure, so is digested more  slowly and helps prevent sugar highs and lows. You should be able to find it in an Indian/Sri Lankan/Ethnic store. We suggest finding the real deal instead of trying substitutions!