Thursday, October 28, 2010
Sooji ka Halwa
For all our love of sweets, sooji ka halwa as we call it (or rava kesari as the husband calls it or goda sheera as I call it) is something that I had made very, very rarely in the first few years of marriage. Yes, I know how ridiculous it must sound. After all, sooji ka halwa is so easy to make, it tastes divine and almost everybody loves it.
The problem with sooji ka halwa is that though it is easy to make, it is as easy to mess up.
And, well my first attempt at making it was quite a disaster. I think the husband must have been quite scared off by that attempt for whenever I would offer to make sooji ka halwa, he would always come up with some alternatives. "Why don't you make some fruit salad instead? Or, how about some payasam? Or, let us get some ice cream." You get the drift, right?
"Hmmm...now this is going to be interesting!"
I don't think he missed eating sooji ka halwa. I mean, if he did, wouldn't he have asked my MIL to make whenever we went visiting or when she came over?
Then, my daughter had sooji ka halwa on a playdate and took a liking for it. When she started demanding that I make it at for her, the husband very amused.
A long call to mom and some detailed instructions later, I was all ready to tackle sooji ka halwa. Turned out that making sooji ka halwa was after all really very, very easy.
Here's how I make it:
Semolina: 1 cup
Milk: 2 cups
Water: 1/2 cup
Ghee/Clarified butter: 3 tbsps + 1 tbsp
Sugar: 3/4 cup (you could also increase it to 1 cup if you like it sweeter, I use 3/4 cup)
Cardamom powder made from crushing about 8-10 cardamom pods)
Salt: a pinch
some raisins, cashewnuts and almonds
Banana: 1 medium sized
In a small vessel, combine the milk and the water, toss in the raisins, if using, and bring it to a boil.
While the liquid boils, pour the semolina into a wok and start roasting it. Once it is warmed, say 2 minutes later, add 3 tbsps ghee to it. Continue to stir - and stir constantly (a little inattention and the semolina can burn) and roast till the semolina turns light brown in colour and emits a wonderful aroma.
(My mom says that when the aroma can be detected from a distance is when the semolina is roasted right).
Once the liquid comes to a boil, slowly pour it into the roasted semolina, stirring constantly. (Careful when pouring as a plume of steam rises up when the milk hits the semolina in the pan).
Stir well and flatten lumps, if any, with the back of the spoon. Then cover the pan and steam on a low heat for about 4-5 minutes.
Stir again, scrapping off any semolina stuck to the bottom of the pan. Then add the sugar, cardamom and nutmeg powders and a pinch of salt. Cover and steam again for another 5 minutes.
Then add in the mashed banana, if using, and give it a good stir. Finally, add a tbsp of ghee, mix well and serve hot.
"Don't feed me baby food!"
I tasted the halwa and did a little celebration dance in the kitchen. It was delicious! I expected him to similarly exult, but he had was a puzzled look on his face. He tasted it and then tasted it again. “Bananas?” he frowned. “Oh I get it. One of your 'make everything healthy – sneak in fruits and vegetables wherever possible' experiments!”
“Experiment? What are you saying....wait a minute....haven't you had sooji ka halwa with bananas before?"
Turned out that indeed he had never had it. Yeah, go figure that!
"Whaaaattttt.....you are not really serious, are you?"
Even with the bananas, he did relish the sooji ka halwa but halfway through his serving, there came on his face a look of complete disbelief and a mild disgust. He was looking at my bowl as if a cockroach had fallen into the bowl! But the only thing that was there in my bowl was some mango pickle. He simply couldn’t believe what he was seeing.....halwa with pickle? I was equally perplexed at his disbelief. I mean how can anyone not like sooji ka halwa with mango pickle?
It is without doubt the best way of enjoying the halwa – in a spoonful, there is a medley of flavours – the sweet halwa, the sour and spicy pickle and the gentle whiff of bananas – all coming together in a taste experience that is tongue tickling and unlike any other.
So, the next time you make sooji ka halwa, forget garnishing it with almonds and cashewnuts. Use some pickle instead. You’ll love it, I promise.
This is my entry to Sharmi's CFK - Festive Foods that Suma is hosting this month.
It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!