Halwa/ sheera / kesari is a much loved dessert and one which most people relate to, as comfort food. The aroma of semolina toasted in shudh desi ghee perfumed with saffron and cardamoms, sweetened with sugar or jaggery is heaven on plate. It comes as no surprise that it is the most favoured dish that is served as prashad i.e. an offering made to God. I first had Pineapple halwa twenty years back, possibly at Dasaprakash. Located in Ambassador Hotel, they served amazing south Indian food but it was closed–down for some reason although I believe now they have several outlets in NCR.
Pineapple Halwa, just like the Saffron Suji Halwa, was instant love. I find the sweet fruity scent of pineapple in the halwa quite irresistible and almost addictive. For me, having pineapple halwa comes to a point of ‘pet bhar gaya per neeyat nahi’ (rough translation: appetite is satisfied but the craving is not) situation. I especially enjoy having a warm bowl of this halwa during the monsoon season here. But I am sharing it here today for the upcoming festival of Baisakhi.
Fresh juicy ripe pineapples are best for making this halwa but if you cannot procure it, then go for canned ones.
1 tbsp Milk
A pinch of Saffron, crushed
1½ Cup Water
½ C Sugar
175 – 200 gm fresh Pineapple, cored and chopped in inch size pieces
¼ tsp Cardamom Powder
3 tbsp plus 1 tsp Desi Ghee
½ C Semolina
1 – 2 tbsp roasted Nuts of your choice
Warm one tablespoon milk and add crushed saffron to it. Set it aside. (I usually allow the saffron to soak for an hour)
Place a small saucepan over stove and keep the heat to maximum. Add water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add pineapple pieces and cook for a few minutes or till the pineapple just about softens (Cooking time will depend on how ripe your pineapple is and how thick you have chopped it. It took me exactly five minutes.) Remove from heat.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the pineapple pieces from syrup. Squeeze excess water and blend the pineapple pieces to attain a rough puree. (You will need hardly two to three seconds of pulsing to attain rough puree)
Add cardamom powder to the syrup. Cover the saucepan and set it aside.
Heat a kadahi or wide and heavy bottom pan and add ghee. Add semolina and roast it on low heat till the semolina just about begins to turn golden. Took me approximately ten minutes.
Carefully add sugar syrup to roasted semolina, stirring all along. Be careful while adding water since the contents will splutter. Increase the heat to medium and cook the contents for half a minute. Add pineapple and keep stirring till the halwa begins to come together.
Switch off the heat and immediately add the saffron milk along with a teaspoon of ghee and nuts (reserve some for garnish). Keep cooking and stirring the contents in the residual heat.
(When I am unable to get my hands on a ripe and sweet pineapple, I sometimes add a few drops of pineapple essence to the halwa to enhance the flavours. Grilling the pineapples also helps enhance its flavour.)
Stir well and serve hot or warm. Enjoy!
Serves – 4
Note – Depending on how ripe and sweet your pineapple is, you may have to adjust the amount of sugar, adding or removing a tablespoon from the given amount.