For those from the Sindhi community, Varo is a culinary masterpiece that encapsulates the spirit of winter. With its rich history, distinctive blend of spices, and heartwarming flavours, it is more than just a sweet treat. During winters, this spiced chikki emerges as a beloved companion.
Into Varo Mithai
The roots of Varo can be traced back to the Sindhi community. This mithai stands out as a winter masterpiece. Varo is crafted from a handful of simple yet essential ingredients, each contributing to the unique texture and flavour of this winter delight.
Varo is a Sindhi dessert that is typically prepared during celebrations like Diwali, but its flavour and richness make it a sought-after delicacy all year round. Additionally, this sweet dish employs few ingredients yet has a strong flavour, just like all Sindhi cuisine. Sindhi cuisine, an amalgamation of flavours influenced by the region’s history and geography, has given birth to numerous culinary delights.
Almond, cashew, and pistachio nuts are typically used to make varo because they are excellent providers of good fats, fibre, magnesium, and plant protein. This also benefits from the many health advantages of poppy seeds, which help with digestion.
Varo is crafted from a handful of simple yet essential ingredients. They give a unique texture and flavour to this winter delight. The primary components include sesame seeds, jaggery, ghee and a distinctive blend of spices. Sesame seeds add a nutty undertone, while jaggery lends its natural sweetness, and ghee provides the necessary richness.
Spices play a crucial role in defining Varo’s character. The inclusion of ground cardamom, cinnamon, and a pinch of black pepper elevates the chikki to a level beyond a conventional sweet. This blend of spices not only warms the body during the chilly winter days but also imparts a complexity that makes Varo a sensory delight.
The recipe, while holding its core elements, allows for regional variations and personal touches. Some families may add a hint of nutmeg for an extra layer of warmth, while others might incorporate dried fruits like chopped dates or figs to enhance the chikki’s texture and sweetness.
Crafting Varo is an art passed down through generations. Each family adds its touch to the traditional recipe. This is how you can make Varo:
- 1 cup sesame seeds
- 1 cup jaggery, grated or chopped
- 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- A pinch of black pepper
- In a dry pan over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds until they turn golden brown and release a nutty aroma.
- In a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind the cardamom, cinnamon, and black pepper.
- In a heavy-bottomed pan, melt the ghee over medium heat. Add the grated or chopped jaggery to the pan and let it melt, stirring continuously
- Once the jaggery is melted, add the ground spice blend to the mixture.
- Add the toasted sesame seeds to the pan, mixing them thoroughly with the spiced jaggery.
- Once well-mixed, quickly transfer the mixture onto a flat, greased surface or a parchment-lined tray.
- Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes until it is firm but still pliable. Using a knife, cut the mixture into bite-sized pieces
- Let the Varo pieces cool completely and harden before serving. The chikkis will become crunchier as they cool.
As winter winds blow and temperatures drop, Varo stands as a reminder of the most cherished moments of nostalgia and sweet family time.
Cover image credits: Representational image, Canva