Understanding The 3 Stages Of Sugar Syrup For Indian Sweets
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When the term chashni was first originated in Persia, it was predominantly as a way of reference to just about any condiment that has a fluid consistency. For example, soya sauce or ketchup could constitute as chashni in the traditional usage of the word; these are ingredients or condiments that are typically used to enhance the flavour of food. However, in India, chashni refers to a basic solution of sugar and water, that is boiled until it reaches the desired consistency for Indian sweets.

In recipes, terms like ‘one-thread’ or ‘two-thread’ is often used to describe the consistency of the chashni, making it confusing to understand why it is key to determining the texture of a sweetmeat. Typically, a chashni is equal parts sugar and water – but the proportions and duration of heat application largely dictate how it is made or adjusted to suit a recipe. To check the thread consistency of a chashni, coating the back of a wooden spoon with bubbling syrup and touching it with your thumb and forefinger allow one to determine how many threads appear.

When the syrup is pulled apart, it creates a brittle thread or threads, that essentially indicate what sweets the syrup will be used for. Traditionally, a one-thread consistency is perfect for sweets which need to absorb the syrup – think gulab jamuns or rasgulla. The two-thread consistency, where the syrup is thickened further by cooking, is also called the soft ball stage because when a drop of syrup is dropped into cold water, it forms a ball instantaneously.

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The two-thread consistency of chashni is used for recipes like barfi and mohanthal, where the syrup plays a role in helping the rest of the ingredients take shape and form as they cool down. When chashni is boiled down further, it reaches the hard-ball consistency – also known as the three-thread consistency, where unbreakable threads form as the syrup is stretched. Typically used for recipes like chikki or crackles, the chashni develops a golden-brown tinge and a crunchy texture, when cooled.

Since cooking with sugar can be a tricky process, it is always advisable to start melting it on a low heat application, to be in control of the consistency as well as prevent the sugar from turning burnt and bitter. In case your sugar syrup has impurities, adding a couple of drops of cold milk or lemon juice while it bubbles, gives it a clear, transparent appearance. Compared to the simple syrup that is used in cocktails, chashni has a thicker consistency even at the one-thread stage due to a higher concentration of sugar.