Monday, October 3, 2011

Sooji Ka Halwa (Semolina Sweet Dessert)

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Today happens to be Maha Ashtami (the eighth day of the Navratri festival) and it is fairly common in the Northern Part of India for households to celebrate Ashtami by doing the Kanjak Ashtami Pooja. Since these nine days of the festival are dedicated to the Hindu goddesses, on Ashtami people break their fast by calling young girls home and treating them as goddesses. These "Kanjak Devis" are called home, their feet are washed and they are offered the ceremonial food, which consists if puri (fried bread), chana (gram) and halwa. Apart from this they are also offered bangles, red chunni and some token amount known as a shagun.
Halwa means a dense sweet preparation and derives its name from the Arabic word Al Halwa meaning "Sweet Confection". Though there are numerous kinds of Halwa, made with different exotic ingredients, the ones made with Sooji (Semolina), Carrot (Gajar), Almond & Moon Dal (Mung Bean) are most common and popular. You also find a pistachio based halwa commonly in India, but people are unware that it is a kind of Halwa. It is called Soan Papdi in most places and its more denser preparation is called Patissa. In fact, if you have anyone going towards Doda in J&K, you should request them to get you some Patissa from a place called Kud. It is like nothing you ever tasted before. Similarly, if you manage to go down South of India or have some one going, Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu is a place to visit. Called the Halwa City, it is famous for it's sweet wheat based halwa.

Sooji ka Halwa

Semolina - 3/4 Cup
Sugar - 3/4 Cup
Ghee (Clarified Butter) - 6 Tblsp
Water - 1.5 Cups (Most suggest using Milk, but I prefer using water)
Almonds - 1/4 Cup
Cashews - 1/2 Cup
Raisins - 1/2 Cup
Pistachios- 1/4 Cup
Green Cardamom Powder - 2 Tsp

1. In a small sauce pan, combine water and sugar to make a light syrup. Keep aside.
2. Also, chop the nuts, keeping some aside for garnish. Fry the nuts in 1 Tblsp ghee. Keep aside.
3. Heat 4 Tblsp of ghee in a wok.
Add the semolina and mix well.
Roast the semolina while stirring consistently (to prevent sticking) till it attains a light biscuit color.
4. Add in the fried nuts and mix well.
5. Add the sugar syrup to the sooji (Semolina) and mix well.
Keep stirring and cooking till most of the water has been absorbed and the mixture has achieved a wet pasty form.
6. Add in the remaining 1 Tblsp of ghee. Mix well and take off flame.
7. Garnish with fried nuts.


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