weird unusual not to post a dreamy chocolaty dish or one with strawberries for Valentine’s Day. Well, I have never been good in following the conventions anyway, so don’t be surprised upon seeing a halwa post for the Valentine’s. Remember, my post on Coconut Laddu? The one that got lost in transit from my previous blog address to this one. Well, I realised that it was not the only post, this halwa post was another casualty of that process. My previous post on this halwa, was a tribute to my late mother whom I lost to cancer nine years back. That is the reason why I chose this post for uploading for the Valentine’s Day. We were besties and losing her was very hard hitting. Never does a day pass without her being in my thoughts. When I started blogging her absence was so conspicuous since she was a very passionate cook and loved experimenting with food; trying out new dishes and giving them her own twist. I believe she would have been thrilled to see my blog and also to learn that there were so many wonderful passionate food bloggers out there. I also wonder her reactions to my blog – what inputs she would have given, what critique she would have summed up, what dishes she would have offered to cook and most of all, which one would have been her favourite post/s! This halwa has a strong connect to my childhood coz this was, and still is, hands down my favorite among all others that she used to dish out – Suji Halwa, Gaajar halwa, Aate ka halwa, Petha Halwa. This post also coincides with my monthly post for Hopscotch, an online store, which sells baby and kids brands from around the world, but not in the traditional sense. Every day, the store launches new limited-time boutiques. Boutiques last for a limited time. Members receive a daily email revealing the latest boutiques. You can find more details here. Hopscotch has introduced a new feature at their Facebook & Instagram account where along with their merchandise, they also share recipes for kids every month.
My parents were both born in pre-partitioned India. Lucky for them, the families moved to India just a few days before the partition was officially announced and the mayhem & savagery began. They were amongst the few lucky families who could all cross over without any casuality. Like all immigrants, they could carry nearly nothing along with them except for gratitude that the family was safe. Besides that I guess they carried memories – some bitter, some sweet. However, also came along with these immigrants were some particular food habits and recipes. Although there is seemingly not much difference in the culture and cuisine of Pakistan and Indian, since they were once upon a time one country, yet there are some recipes that are distinctive to that particular area. Interestingly, I can’t recall anyone towards my dad’s side of the family making this halwa or even my Punjabi friends knowing of this halwa. This dish is a heirloom recipe from my mother’s side of the family. In a manner of speaking one would say it is just another suji halwa but such is not the case. It is indeed a suji halwa no doubt, but with a unique and unusual method of preparing and cooking. I absolutely loved this dessert for its inimitable flavors. As a kid, I even had a moniker for it – ‘orange wala halwa’ (the orangish halwa) due to its orangish hue. This halwa is so ‘complete’ in itself that it requires no nuts or any other embellishments to make it taste better.
1 C Suji/ Sooji/ Rava (semolina)
3 tbsp Maida (APF)
1 plus 1/3 Cup Milk
1C scant, Sugar
¾ C Ghee
Remove 3 table spoons of semolina from one cup of semolina. Replace it with 3 tbsp of APF / maida. Transfer this mix into a bowl and add milk. Whisk them together and set aside while you begin to prep for caramelizing the sugar.
Heat a heavy bottomed wok (kadahi) or pan add ghee and once it begins to get hot (not smoking), reduce the heat to medium. Add sugar and level it in ghee using a spatula . After five minutes stir the sugar using a spatula (using spatula helps ensure that the caramel won’t stick to it). Keep stirring once in a while till the sugar starts caramelizing as it melts. (The color of the caramel should not deepen or darken in color as this will lead to a bitter tasting halwa)
Give a quick stir to the flour-semolina batter and slowly add it to the caramelized sugar.
Now, starts the tricky part. Hold the wok or pan firmly using a cloth or holder (to avoid the heat) so that you can work your way with the batter. Using ladle (a large heavy spoon/ kalchhul), carefully yet swiftly start mixing the batter into the caramel. The batter will seem to turn lumpy but nothing to worry. Increase the flame to medium and using the back of the spoon keep smashing the batter, especially the whitish lumps, till the whole batter gets completed assimilated and incorporated with the caramel and the halwa wears a homogeneous look.
This process will take approximately 3 – 4 minutes. You will also notice that the halwa releases the oil as it begins to come together as evenly toned mixture. At this point, remove excess oil in a small bowl and again roast the halwa for 3 – 4 more minutes. Switch off the heat and push the halwa towards the edge of one side of the wok to allow any excess ghee to drain in the center. Once the ghee leaves the halwa, drain it out in the bowl. Halwa is now ready to be served! I prefer to serve it not too hot.
Please DON’T forget to read the notes.
Note: Keep the ladle ready before you add the paste to the sugar oil mix.
Note: Do not reduce the amount of ghee. This much amount is required to help melt the sugar and also for easier assimilation of the semolina paste. Once the halwa gets cooked, it will automatically release the extra ghee. I removed nearly ¼ cup amount from the halwa.
Note: Ensure that you do not overcook the sugar or be tempted to deepen the color of the caramel, else the halwa can turn bitter in taste
Note: This halwa keeps well, refrigerated, for a week to 10 days depending on weather. You may add a few tablespoons of milk while reheating it.
Note: Although this halwa uses approximately half a cup of ghee, it is a rich halwa nevertheless. A little goes a long way.
Serves: 4 – 6
Do also give a shot to this very exquisite Badam Halwa (Almond Fudge)
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