Sooji Halwa or Semolina Pudding is the recipe of the week! There were no fancy cakes and desserts when we were kids and mom used to make Halwa in order to celebrate any occasion. Sooji Halwa or Semolina Pudding is considered a treat even today for its rich taste. In a Sikh family like ours, the Kadha Parshad was a regular feature as we had a small Gurudwara in our house itself. I grew up with the roasty fragrant smell of the Halwa tickling my nose and waking me up almost every day. My dad who could barely make a cup of tea used to make a perfect Kadha parshad. The recipe for it is written in the Guru Granth Sahib and is made the same everywhere for centuries.
It is winter and in Noth India, halwa is made to keep the body and soul warm and cocooned in its goodness. I made Sooji Halwa or Semolina Pudding as an adios signature dish in Guadalajara, Mexico. My grandson and DIL have a sweet tooth and I wanted the sweetness to linger long after I am gone. The Sooji Halwa or Semolina Pudding turned out perfect with milk, saffron, almonds cardamom and of course ghee or clarified butter and sooji. It is said that it was introduced into India by the Moguls in the 16th century.
India holds by far the most unusual recipes for this most popular sweet and the colour changes according to the topography of the country. I do not like to add any colour but I do add Kashmiri Saffron. The Indian Sooji Halwa strangely contains many of the same ingredients most Greeks associate with Halwa, including semolina, sugar, and butter. But sometimes the dessert, India style, is peppered with raisins and cashews and even coconut and is indicative of cardamom. In North India, it is one of the main foods given to nursing mothers.
Recipe for Sooji Halwa or Semolina Pudding
1 cup Semolina (Rawa/Sooji)
½ cup Ghee
2 ½ cup Milk
5-6 saffron strands
1/2 tsp Green cardamom powder
1 1/2 cup Sugar
2 tbsp. Almonds chopped for garnishing
Heat ghee in a non-stick pan and add semolina. Roast on low heat till fragrant. Follow your nose to decide if the sooji is roasted.
Heat milk in another pan. Add saffron and cardamom powder to the milk.
Once the semolina is roasted well add the flavoured milk to it, mix nicely, cover and cook on simmer for 5 minutes
Add sugar, mix nicely and cover. Let it cook until sugar melts.
Turn off heat and transfer to a serving bowl.
Serve Sooji Halwa or Semolina Pudding, hot, garnished with almonds or nuts of your choice. Dig into it while it is steaming hot and feel it warm the cockles of your heart.
Tip: Like baking, a perfect cake needs good measurement, Sooji Halwa or Semolina Pudding will turn out perfect if you stick to the measurements.
A savoury version of Sooji is Upma and is really very tasty. Recipe for Upma is here