Screaming Cups and Orange Burfi

On Thursday, I awoke to a low moaning sound in the house. It became louder as it came closer and sounded like someone was being strangled, a kind of strange screaming.

If I hadn't been lying awake, waiting for the alarm to ring; so that I could snooze it and finally go to sleep...
If I hadn't heard the patter of little feet...
If I hadn't heard the water run...
If I hadn't attended Science Night at her school the previous night, I would have been frightened out of my wits.

But not me! I knew exactly what it was. It was a Screaming Cup, being used insidiously by an 8 year old, who doesn't quite get "die of a heart attack!"

With Hallowe'en coming up on October 31, the Screaming Cup experiment was the most popular at Science Night, and tied closely with Stab the potato with a straw without breaking or bending it, the straw that is.

Definitely try this one at home. It's a hit with the little ones as well as the older balding ones. All you need is

  • a 16 or 24 oz plastic cup - the ubiquitous red kind do really well
  • a piece of string, about 18-24 inches in length
  • water, or if you have a budding violinist at home, violin rosin

  1. Make a hole in the bottom of the red cup and thread the string through it.
  2. Knot the string well on the side that is inside the cup (my husband doesn't agree but this was the only way it worked for me. He insists it works better when you knot it on the outside and pull the string through the cup. These engineers...who cares? As long as it screams!)
  3. Wet the string or rub it well with violin rosin
  4. Hold the string tightly between your thumb and index finger near the bottom of the cup and start sliding it away from the cup. Squeeze the string really hard and as your fingers slip and slide along the string, you will hear the wistful moaning that filled my home at dawn that morning.
Why does this happen, the young inquiring mind might ask. Er...the older one, too. As your fingers slip and slide on the string, there are vibrations in the string. These vibrations make the cup vibrate, which bounce off the insides of the cup and end up creating an amplified sound wave. Or more like a scream that is perfect for Hallowe'en!

What does this have to do with food? Not much. Actually, nothing. I could lie and say that this experiment did not work till I came home and got a bite of my delectable Orange Burfi. But I would classify that act only as one to be abhorred.

I found this little gem in my mother's blue diary. I am not a fan of the Indian halwas and burfis, except for gajjar halwa but I changed my tune when I made this orange burfi. It's very different from any burfi I have ever had till date! I made it for Diwali; Bhau Bheej, really. To raise a toast to all those wonderful male cousins who get away year after year by not giving me that envelope stuffed with money that is rightfully mine!

Orange Burfi

  • 1 cup maida
  • 1/2 cup ghee
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 3-4 drops yellow food coloring (optional)
  • peel of two oranges
  1. Heat the ghee in a kadhai
  2. Add the maida and cook on medium-low, stirring frequently, till the maida is golden in color
  3. Take this out in another bowl and add the milk, sugar, orange juice and orange peels to the same kadhai in which you were cooking the maida in ghee.

  4. Cook on medium-high till you have a syrupy mixture. It took about 12 minutes or so for me.
  5. Add the food coloring and stir. Food coloring is another thing that I am not crazy about but I added about 3 drops nevertheless.
  6. Add the maida and ghee mixture and cook on medium low till the ghee starts to leave the sides...just kidding! till the ghee starts separating from the mixture.
  7. Put the mixture in a greased pan or casserole and spread. I used a small 6 inch by 6 inch casserole. If you use a larger one, the burfi will be flatter. I like mine thick!
  8. Allow the mixture to cool and regardless of what the engineers may say, let it cool completely before attempting to cut it into cubes or diamonds. I let the engineer have his say - he had helped stir, you know! - so the edges of my orange burfi are not as smooth as they could be.
    Some burfi went AWOL when I was not looking!

    There it is! Orange Burfi!

The original recipe in my mother's blue diary calls for 2 cups of sugar. I thought that would be too sweet and used only 1 cup. The consistency of the sugar syrup therefore plays an important role in how firm this burfi will be. If you like it really sweet, go ahead and use 2 cups of sugar. I also think that since the weather is cool enough for to ghee solidify at room temperature in my home, using less sugar worked for me.

This Orange Burfi was given a rating of Yumilicious by both my family and my neighbors. The taste of the orange peel, followed by the orange juice dominate this burfi. The ghee makes it rich. Try it!

On a lark, I am going to send this to VKN's VCC Q3 2006, where the theme this quarter is Festival Foods from the world over.

Orange Burfi? Very festive. Very different.

Update: Even though she didn't taste them, this orange burfi has been to London to see the Queen! All kudos go to Shahpar Selim, of course!


Anonymous said...

Yummy! I'm a sucker for anything orange. Will try this today. Got navel oranges for a buck a pound today. Thanks!

sra said...

The 'wistful' 'moaning' reminded me of Myrtle (is SHE the loo ghost?) in Harry Potter! Anyway, I saw a variety of fruit burfi on a recent trip to Pune, there was mango, Alphonso, orange, pineapple and custard apple, the custard apple taste really came through. That was the first time I saw fruit burfis! Your pix r nice.

Anonymous said...

I love the screaming cup. It also works as a telephone if the knot is on the inside and the cup held over the ear.And the orange barfi looks very nice too!

Anonymous said...

Wow, burfi with orange, looks delicious manisha. And I am going to do the screaming cups for my nieces and nephews.. it'll be past halloween, but I don't think they'll mind!

Anonymous said...

I loved the orange burfi. I am going to try it,especially since it is from your mothers recipe book.
Loved the pics!

FH said...

Very festive and very approprite orange thingie ie Burfi for Halloween! and screaming cup?! HOHO ! IDEA for tomorrow!!:))

Swamy VKN said...

Hi Manisha - we are going to try out both the screaming cup and the majestic orange burfi. Burfi looks sooo divine especially characterized by a great display.

Thank you for participating at VCC Q3 2006. You have a winner recipe here. All the best. See you at the show. Cheers!

Krithika said...

delicious looking barfi !

Foodie Jr. said...

Cool recipe

Anonymous said...

I was going through your recipe and noticed that you have not mentioned at what stage the orange juice is to be added.While it figures on ingredient list,it does not come into play later.
The reason why I was curious is that for some reason,I dont think that milk and orange juice go together- or atleast thats what we were told growing up- and was wondering how you were going to use the OJ.if you are supposed to boil it with the milk..than doesnt it cause the milk to curdle?

Anonymous said...

Pranita, welcome! Do let me know whether the orange burfi tickled your tastebuds or if the combination did not work for you. I know a lot of people who don't like the idea of fruit in burfis and halwas.

SH, I couldn't stop laughing!! I'm in the same boat as you, love handles and all!

Sra, Myrtle is the spectre in the restrooms! Now that you mention it, it does sound like her! I'd love to try the sitaphal burfi. After mango, sitaphal is my to-die-for fruit.

Jyotsna, thanks! And, yes! I remember playing 'telephone' with cups when I was a kid.

Mandira, I don't the kids will mind one bit! But you know, after a while, you might!! The best thing to do is to show them this trick just before they are leaving your house. :D

Gini, I am really touched! You are just so sweet! But do re-check the recipe as I omitted the OJ in teh instructions, as the last person to comment before me pointed out. I've fixed that now.

Asha, I never realized how I played into the Hallowe'en theme! Must be the subconscious at play! Did your cups scream?

VKN, thanks! Pleas re-check the instructions before trying it out!

Krithika and Foodie Jr., thanks!

Anon, you are so right! I missed saying when the OJ should be added. It should be added with the orange peels, sugar and milk. I've updated my post to that effect! Thank you so much for pointing that out to me! Next time maybe I should copy the recipe word for word from the diary!!

I was a little concerned about the milk, too but I think the sugar saves it from curdling. I don't quite know the chemistry of it but it is something to experiment with! So, no, the milk did not curdle.

Shammi said...

Oh man, that sounds gorgeous! Orange anything is one of my favourite flavours :) I hope your orange burfi turns out to be the winning recipe!

Anonymous said...

Shammi, it is delicious, especially the orange peel! Yum! I don't know about winning - there are a bunch of fabulous recipes that have been entered! The biryanis are blowing me away as are the spicy treats!

Anonymous said...

Manisha, i tried the orange burfy today. It was so delicious that i'm planning to make another batch this weekend. And maybe mango burfi too :). Thanks for the recipe. Old is gold.

Anonymous said...

Manisha, this sounds wonderful! I have never made burfis at home, and I am definitely going to try it. What ingredients other than orange peel do you think it would work with? As in, does kaju burfi follow the same recipe, but with pureed kaju?

(the word verification for this comment is "heoee" and it sounds just like the scream you describe in your post!)

Anonymous said...

Pranita, I am thinking of making it again, too. But I am going to let a couple more weeks go by so that I don't feel that guilty! I am so glad you enjoyed it. Please let me know how the mango burfi tasted, and whether you used fresh mangoes or canned pulp. And yes, old is gold, indeed!

desiknitter, like Pranita said perhaps mango might be something to try out. Saffron Hut has a great recipe for Kaju Kathli. It sounds very simple. The process is different though and it has no ghee or milk or maida, just sugar, cashews and water! She also has a recipe for Badam halwa, which is similar to my orange burfi. However, don't change the proportions or substitute any of the ingredients. Shanta of A-S ran into problems when she did that.

Anonymous said...

awesome blog - found you on

My mom also has a 'blue diary' filled with!

Pelicano said...

Wow...these really were to London to see the Queen...that makes me one person and one burfi away from royalty! :-D