Journey Of Dodha Barfi: From A Wrestler’s Snack To A Sweet Meat
Image Credit: iStock, Dodha Barfi

A quick glance at any Indian sweet shop gives enough proof about the love that Indians share for desserts. Amongst the plethora of mithais, barfi finds a special place. Usually cut in square shapes, barfi is a milk-based dessert that is dense and sweet. However, not all barfis have a tale to tell like this dodha barfi. For the unversed, it is a fudgy barfi with a chewy and grainy taste. Made with mawa, jaggery and nuts, this is a rich and heavy sweet meat that fills up the stomach very quickly. While sweet meats are generally associated with festive occasions and celebrations, found at halwai and mithai shops, the dodha barfi was first discovered in a wrestler’s kitchen. 

As early as the Harappan civilization, sweets in India were made with dairy products. The idea of making a dessert was as simple as pairing yoghurt and sugar with fruits. Some say that the Dodha barfi takes inspiration from peda. Nevertheless, this gooey dessert comes with a peculiar history about its invention and creation. Dated in the Pre-Partition days in 1912, the legend suggests that a wrestler by the name, Harbans Vig lived in Sarghoda district of Punjab. To add nutrition to their diets, the wrestlers of those times consumed large quantities of milk and ghee. 

However, Harbans got bored with these two essential components of his diet regime and he decided to head to the kitchen. Through his experimental efforts of combining, malai, sugar, ghee, milk and lots of nuts, he ended up created a fudgy and gooey dessert. The resulting sticky and chewy sweet meat quickly gained prominence and a lot of wrestlers gave their approval for this barfi. When Harbans introduced it in his family sweet shop, it sold like hot cakes and continues to do so. 

Source: iStock

There are several other stories around the invention of dodha barfi which iterate that it is inspired by the Mathura peda in its most primitive form. However, it is the wrestler’s legend that seems to be the most plausible and well-accepted one. Not just mithai shops, dodha barfi can be made at home with this easy recipe. The mawa is roasted in ghee until it turns golden-brown, after which milk and cream are added to it. Next, sugar and nuts are thrown in for a rich and sweet flavour, post which it is spread on a greased plate and cooled down. Cut into small squares, the dodha barfi is set to be devoured.