South Asian-Inspired Chickpea Milk Cake (Besan Burfi)

Prep Time
40 min
Cook Time
40 min
36 to 48 portions

This nutty cake blends beautifully with the hints of saffron and cardamom that add a hint of spice. Besan is a type of bean flour made from brown chickpeas, where some groceries carry only white chickpea flour. If you can’t find gram flour, you can use the white chickpea flour but the taste and texture may be a little more coarse (besan is finer).

Related: You Won’t Believe These Fluffy Chickpea Pancakes are Totally Gluten-Free




cup ghee
2 ⅓
cups besan (gram flour, from brown chickpeas) or white chickpea flour
tsp ground cardamom
cup coconut milk (tinned)
threads saffron (optional, for colour)
cup water
cups granulated sugar
cup chopped roasted cashews, for decor
cup sweetened flaked coconut, for decor


Step 1

Lightly grease and line a 9-inch (23 cm) square pan with parchment paper so that the paper comes up the sides.

Step 2

Melt the ghee in a large sauté pan over medium heat and add the chickpea flour. Stir this steadily with a wooden spoon for about 25 minutes (you can step away here and there, but don’t go too far), until the mixture turns the colour of pale peanut butter – you may need to reduce the heat to medium-low so that the flour doesn’t colour too quickly. As the mixture cooks, it will change in texture from thick and crumbly to thin and smooth. Add the ground cardamom after the first 15 minutes.

Step 3

Have the coconut milk on hand and if you wish to add colour, drop the saffron threads into it and let this sit. Once the chickpea flour is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the coconut milk – it will tighten up, but that is expected.

Step 4

In a medium saucepan over high heat bring the water and sugar to a full rolling boil without stirring. Boil the sugar until it reaches 242°F about a minute from when it begins to boil, and then remove this from the heat.


Step 5

Slowly pour the hot sugar into the chickpea mixture while constantly whisking, until evenly combined. Pour this into the prepared pan and spread it into the corners. Sprinkle the top of the burfi with cashews and coconut, let cool to room temperature and then chill for at least 2 hours before slicing into small squares.


besan burfi on a plate

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