Fluffy semolina, roasted in oil, cooked with sugar and cardamom and garnished with slivered almonds, Sooji Ka Halwa is a national favorite in Pakistan. Popular for Sunday brunch it perfectly balances the spicy chana masala and aloo masala.
The History Of Sooji Ka Halwa
Halwa is derived from the Arabic word "Hulw" which means sweet. Often also spelled as "halva" or "halvah" it is often broadly used to describe dense, sweet concoctions made of a variety of ingredients such as carrots, pumpkin and whole grains to name a few.
It is likely that the earliest halwa was made of ingredients such as dates, milk and sugar in Arabia. With the conquest of Persia, the recipe spread through various parts of Asia and eventually made its home in the Indian Subcontinent during the time of the Delhi Sultanate between the 13th and 16th Century.
According to www.republicworld.com the first known written recipe is featured in a book called "Kitab-al-Tabikh", dating back approximately 1000 years. Literally translated, the name means "book of dishes" and a variety of different halwa recipes are featured in its ancient pages.
Given my personal love of halwas and the fact that they are a very popular dessert in Pakistan in winter you are likely to see many featured here in the months to come. Sooji ka halwa is a year long staple, eaten for bruch and dessert alike.
It's also a great recipe to have on hand if you need to make a quick and easy dessert. I personally like my halwa the old fashioned simple way, but there are some variations to this basic recipe mentioned at the end of the post. Feel free to experiment a little bit once you master the basic recipe.
However you eat it, whichever recipe and variation you decide to look up and go with, you will most likely love sooji ka halwa!
What Is Sooji
Sooji, also known as semolina, rava and farina is a granular wheat. A derivative of the middlings of durum wheat, traditionally used to make this delectable sooji ka halwa
Middlings are a by-product of the milling process that, due to someones creativity, found an alternative use. We're fortunate, as something that would otherwise have been thrown now helps us create mouthwatering and delicious recipes.
I make my halwa with cream of wheat as it's more easily available where I live. Semolina is a harder wheat than cream of wheat and usually the difference in texture does not make the two interchangeable. For example when cooking some foods, such as pasta. I find that in this recipe the swap makes no difference to the final product.
Comment below if you try and like this recipe or share your own unique recipe and ideas with us. We love hearing from you!
Sooji Ka Halwa
- 1 cup cooking oil
- 4 whole pods crushed cardamom
- 1 cup cream of wheat
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 cups water
- 4 drops ½ yellow or orange food color
- ¼ cup slivered almonds
- Mix the sugar, water and food color in a saucepan and heat till the sugar is totally dissolved.
- Heat the cooking oil in a pan and saute the crushed cardamom for a minute.
- Add the cream of wheat to the cardamom infused oil and saute till its a medium brown color (SEE NOTE 1)
- Add the water sugar mixture and cook just till the mixture thickens.(SEE NOTE 2)
- Turn the stove off and leave in covered pan for 5 minutes as the cream of wheat continues to cook even after the stove has been turned off.
- Uncover, garnish with almonds and serve.
- At this stage you need to stir constantly in order to get an even brown roast and prevent the cream of wheat from burning.
- As soon as the cream of wheat absorbs the water turn the heat off. You should have a thick liquidy mixture at this point. Cream of wheat keeps cooking and absorbing water even after the cooking process is complete. If you let the mixture become too thick it will harden and get clumpy rather than light and fluffy.
Add Ons and Swaps
- Ghee or butter instead of oil.
- Milk instead of Water.
- Condensed milk.