Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sooji ka Halwa

"Why don't you make something else instead?"


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:

Ingredients:


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

optional:

some raisins, cashewnuts and almonds
Banana: 1 medium sized


Method:

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.


14 comments:

  1. Never had sooji halwa with pickles, will try out next time..cute looking halwa..

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  2. nice recipe,..will try ur version,,:-)

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  3. I have never heard of halwa with bananas, let alone pickles :-) I did have the rawa kesri with pineapple, so now i understand the combo of fruit with it.

    My kids love sooji halwa too, breakfast, snack and dessert kind of love. which is really good right? I sneak healthy stuff too; I use almond meal and cook it with sooji . If I did not tell you, you would not know it is there.

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  4. Wow.. Aqua.. that's exactly how we make it and eat it too! :D Banana, pickle, the works! I didn't realize till I read your post that this was so unusual. Lovely description of your interactions in this post! :)

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  5. Sooji halwa with pickles is a wonderful combination. I just love it.

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  6. Pickle and halwa!!!!! oh my god. thats a totally new combi and makes me feel interested about it. I love such crazy combination :) got to try it out next time :)

    BTW the first pic looks fantastic :)

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  7. Outrageous! :) I've never heard of this halwa-pickle combination, though I have heard of other such combinations. Like papad and payasam! Have never had that myself.

    When a friend from the TN-Kerala border told me of savoury wheat upma mashed with ripe banana and eaten with sugar, I told him not to kid me! :)

    And it was only through the blogs that I came to know of sooji banana halwa. I know of pineapple rava kesari, of course - a staple at weddings in one part of the South!!!

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  8. Thanks for the lovely entry. We love banana halwa too. It's a regular one at my home.

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  9. Sooji halwa with pickle...now thats something I haven't heard or tried.

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  10. Priya, you are one amazing foodie and I am sure you will quite enjoy the combo.

    notyet, thank you for trying it out.

    SS, I think this combo is very Maharashtrian and not very common anywhere else. Thank you for liking the post.

    Bergamot, glad to come across another person who digs this combo.

    Soma, almond meal sounds like a fantastic idea. How much would you suggest I put in halwa made from 1 cup of semolina?

    Nithya and Rachana, for someone who has not heard of it before, I am sure it must sound weird, but do go ahead and try it!

    Sra, you won't believe this, but once I (force) fed my daughter some coconut milk payasam and the only way she would have it was in between some bites of a papad!
    But the the savoury wheat upma with mashed banana....sounds well, intriguing!

    Suma, glad you liked the entry.

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  11. hi aqua,
    Love to read ur post and I'd maintain this always :)
    I agree with all the major tips on the sooji halwa and can vouch for it.
    We make banana sooji halwa for sathya narayan pujas here in SouthIndia, and it's always a special preparation!(I make it whenever a craving creeps in :))
    Crzy combinations...again am with u..I've tried halwa with pickle, ketchup and chutney powder too ;)
    so does that reach the height of craziness..lol

    Wishing wellness, prosperity and happiness this Diwali to u and ur loved ones!
    Have a beautiful celebration!!
    TC

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  12. bananas in halwa ? No never heard of it! But I love halwa with Pickle! Thats the best way to eat it...

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  13. Yummy halwa...an anytime comfort food.

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  14. I will try making it ...but leave all that away ...i want to say to you one thing I really really enjoyed reading your entire narration of how to make sooji ka halwa :)

    You have a great writting skill i must say :)

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