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Chicago Area

Saffron/pistachio kulfi, fresh litchees, fluffy burfi- a Devon St. Stroll (long)

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Saffron/pistachio kulfi, fresh litchees, fluffy burfi- a Devon St. Stroll (long)

Michael M. | Jul 13, 2003 04:22 PM

Though I use this board all the time, I have (guiltily) never contributed, but my recent laptop and wireless router purchase gives me no reason to not "give back" anymore. Saturday was a perfect day for a short Devon Street Culinary Walk, so my companion-in-eating and I went off to indulge. Our afternoon:

First visit was Kamdar Plaza, a grocer-slash-fast food store with a bakery/“deli” on one side, and dry goods taking up the rest of the store. I’m a sucker for sweets, but the Indian burfis, laddoos and halvas I’ve had in the past were always too heavy and oily for me, weighing down both the flavors and my stomach. But I was encouraged to see no neon green or electric orange in the bakery cases, implying none of the artificial colors whose plastic taste turns me off, so I ordered a selection of nut and milk burfi.

I was prepared to be disappointed, but my first bite of the pista burfi was a surprise. I don't think it was milk-based, just a ball of ground pistachio nuts, held together with ghee and coated in a crackling crust of sugar, looking like an Indian take on the spiced donut holes I grew up with. But unlike the sweets from my memory, this had no heavy texture, no grease masking the flavor It was a delightfully light mix of nuts and sweetness!

Next was a milk burfi flavored with saffron - again, not like the heavy,doughy burfis from my memory, but a light (dare I say fluffy?) treat with a nice saffron bite. “Fluffy burfi” is not only fun to say, but it was more fun to eat than the leaden squares I’ve had in the past.

A small chocolate burfi square was also delightful - a cocoa flavored layer on top of a contrasting milk layer. But the best was a huge square that the man behind the counter said was made from ricotta. I think it was a kalakand, but I don’t remember. I know in India milk-based sweets are made with khoya, or condensed buffalo milk, and that in the states people substitute condensed milk, milk powders or cooked down ricotta. It was a light, frothy mouthful of Indian cheesecake-with-no-crust, topped with almonds and flavored with a bit of rosewater. Yum - I’ll be back here.

Further east was the International Produce Market (think that’s the name), a more mainstream grocery specializing in produce. They have a nice selection of Indian and Mexican veggies and fruit (nopales, serranos, Indian eggplants, fresh taro leaves etc.). Though their prices were slightly higher than other grocers along the strip, their produce seems fresher. They’re also the only grocer I’ve seen in this area (meaning the general north end of the city) with fresh jackfruit; one will run you around $6. We picked up some fresh litchees for $2.99/pound (1 lb. = about 20 little tasty fruits) and continued east.

I wanted to make soccas, so I went to get chickpea flour at Patel Brothers, a large market many here are aware of. They have a small produce area and row after fragrant of row of beans, spices, pickles and those spicy snacks made from various bean flours which I’m addicted to. I had to sort of purposefully linger around the labelled-in-a-foreign-language bean flour area until I heard English being spoken so I could ask somebody, “Which one of these is chickpea flour?”

“Chickpea?”

“Umm...these things.” I thrust a bag of spicy chickpeas I’d luckily just scooped up. Gram flour, for future reference. Picked up a case of 12 Kent mangoes for $4.99 on the way out.

Luckily, we were not too burdened down with goods to make one last stop, at Sukhadia’s Sweets and Snacks, mentioned on this board for their kulfi. I tried something that might have been taro leaves wrapped around...something tasty...that was both spicy and sweet (but primarily a savory item). I’d get this again, even if the woman behind the counter and I couldn’t understand each other enough for me to identify the ingredients.

But the language barrier was low enough for her to tell us that the kulfi under the “homemade ice cream” sign wasn’t made there anymore. These weren’t the dayglo-colored versions I’ve seen elsewhere, so we tried the saffron/pistachio and were impressed with the creamy texture and good nutty/saffrony flavor, a perfect end to our trip. Except that I’m snacking on their red-pepper-coated cashews as I type this.

Kamdar Plaza
2646 W. Devon
(773) 338 8100

Patel Brothers
2610 W. Devon
(773) 262 7777

Sukhadia’s Sweets and Snacks
2559 W. Devon
(773) 338 5400

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