With the passing of our country’s most awesome Tata, the last few days have been a crazy mix of commiseration as well as celebration – loving that people are choosing to dance and celebrate a life well lived :-).
This comes in the middle of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, an international campaign held from 25 November til 10 December to raise awareness about violence towards women and children. The Western Cape Government (yay for my home town!) puts it far better than I possibly could:
The rights of women and children are fundamental human rights entrenched in and protected by the Constitution. Gender-based and child violence, in all its different forms, devalues human dignity and the self-worth of the person and must be stopped in our society.
Ladies and gentlemen (and I mean gentlemen), we need to do something about the oxygen-scavenging scumbags who dare to threaten our safety and security – with so many people and organizations making it so easy for us to contribute, there’s no excuse NOT to participate.
Soooo. In a random fit of last-ditch springcleaning before the festive season, I unearthed from the murky depths of my pantry a motley assortment of odds and bobs. Condensed milk + noodles + nuts + coconut = the makings of the sweetmeat Kunafeh. It was pure coincidence that these are shaped into balls. And that 16 Days of Activism had just started. And that part of the preparation involves crushing nuts.
A word of warning: This is a recipe from a promotional booklet and is NOTHING like the traditional Turkish/Lebanese sweet treat which is made with pastry and possibly contains cheese (the recipes are as varied as the spelling). But that’s ok by me. Calling them “sticky balls” would just sound rude.
They are very sticky and sweet and milky and nutty like any Indian sweetmeat worth it’s salt. Or sugar.
For 16-20 sweet, sticky spheres:
1 packet of 2-minute noodles (approx. 70g)
200ml mixed nuts (I used odds and bobs of raw almonds and cashews)
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
200ml dessicated coconut (I used fine and medium sized bits, because that’s what crept out of the cupboard)
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom – optional. But oh so yummy.
First – noodles. Before you open the bag, use the heel of your hand to roughly crush the noodles without bursting the seams. Voila! – crushed, and no mess. Discard the seasoning sachet. Chicken-flavoured desserts rarely go down well.
Now, think of all the horrible news stories you have heard lately about violence against women or children. Think about the unfairness of it all, and those disgusting excuses for men who so often get away with these sick, sick crimes. Then grab a mortar and pestle and crush the bejeezus out of those nuts. It doesn’t make the problem go away unfortunately, but don’t you feel a weeny bit better? Remember to stop pounding before it turns into nut butter.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, and when it starts to sizzle add the crushed noodles. Fry until nicely golden-brown – 10-15 minutes. Then add the crushed nuts – if they are raw, stir-fry for a few minutes to get a bit of that toasty flavour, about 2 minutes. Add the condensed milk and cook over low heat for 5 minutes until it’s thick and pasty. The more you cook it, the firmer the final result will be. Mix in the coconut and cardamom and remove from the heat – give it a bit of a stir to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Allow it to cool for a few minutes until it can be safely handled.
Have hot soapy water on standby in the sink, because the next part is messy (but so much fun – if you enjoyed play-doh as a kid you will love this). Scoop blobs of the sticky mass into the palm of your hand and quickly roll into a little ball then drop onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. Best to keep them small because they a) they are indecently sweet and b) more realistic ;-).
Allow these sweetly sticky balls to hang out in the fridge while you melt down some chocolate (I used white; I think milk would look far more appealing but, hey, white is what my cupboard spat out). When the balls have set, drizzle chocolate over each and there you have it – sticky, crunchy kunafeh. Remember to wear your white ribbon and hand these out for a Sweet 16 Days of Activism – if in the presence of men, feel free to wax lyrical about the nut-crushing process.
PS: This link contains lots of information about who to call in case of violence towards women or children – good to know.
PPS: Have you been on a self-defence course? What are you waiting for – sign up! I would love to go for the kind like in the movie The Rebound, where you get to beat up a “perp” in a fatsuit. We were taught self-defence manoeuvres in High School, with all of us girls paired up and taking turns being attacker and victim – mostly I remember my much taller partner dropping me on my head.