Orange scented Cashewnut barfis (Cashew squares or Kaju Barfi)

I am a self-confessed cashewnut addict.  I love it plain, fried, salted, even soaked! That does not mean I use it in all my cooking. Jr.H is allergic to them (she says it has not been proved, but I am a cautious mom). My son seems to have inherited my love for these nuts and I have successfully passed it on to my husband of over ten years. As Diwali, the festival of lights approached closer, my husband realised that I would need a lot of cashews. Though I say so myself I make the best barfis, and I have tasted quite a few. My friends and family swear by my recipe for nut barfis. I am told it is moist, firm, and melt-in-the-mouth. So, a couple of weeks prior to the festival, when P travelled to Mangalore he returned with 3 kilos of the best quality cashews he could find.

I love traditional sweets but often traditional recipes come laden with ghee (clarified butter) and sugar. I like mine with just the right amount of sugar to help build the firmness, and I like trying out new twists every now and then. A week before Diwali arrived I tried making the traditional cashew burfis with ‘reduced’ orange juice (a sort of syrup). The result was excellent. It was tangy, sweet and vibrant orange in colour, but the barfis turned out like katlis – soft, malleable and a little sticky. My efforts to get firm ones did not work. The next morning I made the barfis again, this time using only the zest I saved from the previous day’s oranges, and the barfis turned out zesty, tasty, flavourful. The barfis did not turn bright orange but carried the faint colour. I do not recommend addition of colours, but if you would like to get a more vibrant colour, I suggest that you use saffron threads. It will alter the flavour slightly but it is infinitely better than using colour. I used navel oranges as the skins are orange in colour. The zest from these oranges are more flavourful than the Indian oranges and not as bitter. For raw consumption I prefer the Indian variety, and I consume a lot of fruits.

Because I used raw sugar (bhura or burra shakkar), the time needed for firming was slightly reduced. If using white sugar it would take a minute or two more to reach the one thread stage.

For plain cashew barfi please follow the recipe here.

Recipe:  Orange scented Cashew barfi (Cashew Squares / Kaju Barfi)
Vegan | GFCF | Dairy – free


Coarsely powdered cashewnuts – 1 level cup, loosely packed
Raw Sugar (Bhura or burra chini) – 1/2 cup, less 2 tbsps.
Water – 1/2 cup
Orange zest – 2 tbsps.


Rub the zest into the powdered cashews with light fingers. At this point you will find your house filled with the perfume of oranges. (Mine did. My daughter was drawn to the kitchen.)

Place the sugar and water in a heavy based pan on heat to form a one-string syrup, stirring a few times in between. This is achieved in about 7 to 8 minutes of heating on medium flame. To test for consistency stir, remove the ladle, allow the syrup to drip, blow and touch a drop of the syrup with your index finger. Press lightly with your thumb and pull away slowly. The syrup with stretch as a single string between your fingers for about 1/2 a centimetre. The string will not hold beyond that and break.

At this stage add the powdered cashews zested with orange. Fold the powder into the syrup and stir till the powder starts leaving the pan in a clean sweep, about 3-4 minutes on low flame.

Pour the thick cake immediately onto the pan and spread it lightly. Pat with the greased back of a bowl or place a foil over the cake and pat into an even layer. Cool for a few minutes and cut into squares or diamonds. After it cools completely, about 10 minutes, remove the cakes carefully with a pancake turner.

If you want to add colour, warm a few strands of saffron, crush with your fingers and add it to the syrup while it boils.

All those who ate one piece helped themselves to a couple more!  The faint burst of fresh oranges is divine.


Keep your ingredients measured and ready to go. This sweet is made very quickly and if the ingredients are not ready to be used you might end up with sweetened cashew powder instead of neat squares.

Keep a lightly greased plate or jelly pan ready. This makes about 12, 1.5″ pieces so a small pan would be just right.


Harini is a vegan food photographer, writer and recipe developer. She also loves feeding birds, reading, watching crime thrillers, and travelling amongst other things.

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  • Shoba

    Hi Harini,

    I love anything with orange zest. It looks amazing and I am sure it must take awesome!


  • Tiana Gustafson

    Thank you so much for this amazing looking recipe! I love healthy recipes and I will look forward to trying it out and sharing it with my followers at As Arnold says “I’ll be back” 🙂 Thanks again!

  • Shruti

    Lovely!!! I can have this plate anytime of the day… 🙂

  • ??? ??????

    i love your blog a lot.

  • Anitha Raj

    As usual, I love reading your recipes! This is definitely a twist in the usual recipe, must try.

  • Shema | LifeScoops

    Love this unique twist to cashew burfi !!

  • Soma

    Looks so nice. I love anything with orange or orange zest in them. I make a payasam with orange and it’s my winter favorite. I think the saffron will mask the orange-y flavor a bit, no?

    • Harini Prakash

      I did not add the saffron as I have written. I just added that for readers who might want more colour. Yes, it would reduce the flavour, just a bit, like you correctly observe, Soma. I make an orange pulav and add it to payasam too! We are orange crazy, aren’t we? 🙂

  • PG

    the Burfis are looking too good, Harini! And i like the idea of using orange zest in them a lot. I think they are looking beautiful enough for one to add colour to them. Mouthwatering!

    • Harini Prakash

      Thanks, PG! I second that opinion. They are pretty enough without colour. These ended up being addictive.

  • Jayasri

    First of all lovely clicks as always, My kids love kaju katli, & next time would love this twist, must be delicious, when I saw your link on fb I thought you must have used Orange juice, ok you tried that as well, I should give a shot on both these versions let’s see what my kids will like & will write back to you

    • Harini Prakash

      I will try with the juice again, Jayasri. I am sure there should be a way around to get that right. The taste was so good, it reminded me a better version of the famous ‘santra barfis’ from Nagpur. Meanwhile, this is a very delicious alternative. I would like to know your results when you try. 🙂

  • Lata Raja

    I am one of those who will swear by your kaju burfi. This one with the orange zest will be even more popular when I try it. I see that you have pounded the cashews very coarse. is that for the texture?

    • Harini Prakash

      Lata, thanks! I would generally refrigerate the cashews for a day or for a night prior to making the barfis, in a plate without a lid. This helps the cashews become really hard and when you powder it it would be fine crumbs. When I made the barfis this time I forgot to refrigerate the cashews, and if I ground it as well as I do the refrigerated ones, it would turn oily and pasty. I do not like the pasty ones so decided to grind it to a coarser powder than the regular ones.

  • Anjali

    So beautiful! and as a lover of orange zest I can tell that I will love this marriage of flavors. This barfi has the texture of my peanut fudge and I like that bite in the barfi. I got large quantity of cashews from Konkan too.

    • Harini Prakash

      I makes them with peanuts too, Anjali. Now that you have them, probably you will also try making these. I love oranges as it is and the zest is just too good!

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