Suji Ka Halwa/Kesari Bath/Sheera

Updated: Apr 8, 2021

Before we actually get into the guts of this post, I just wanted to take a step back and reflect on something - this is going to be the first time in over 50 articles on this blog that the two of us have combined to write a post. While we collaborate a fair bit on the content behind the scenes, we have never actually co-authored a post until now. We are up to 30 posts each, give or take, and this will be the first one together. Here's to many more together and hopefully, the first of many collaborative articles with other contributors.






Suji (Semolina) Halwa is pretty famous in the Indian subcontinent and is especially served on auspicious occasions or festivals. A while ago, we touched on a dish that was so common in Indian households yet hardly ever served in restaurants. I am fairly confident we can add this one to the list as well.

The original recipe dates back a thousand years where initially mashed dates and milk were mixed. Over a period of time, this recipe was refined by adding semolina or flour. Initially, in the middle east countries, flour was roasted in butter. In the Indian subcontinent, however, Ghee was used instead of butter.

The term "Halwa" was introduced around two centuries back, and its roots are in Arabic, which means sweet. My early childhood memories of Halwa are that it used to be served on the last day of Navratri (a Hindu festival that lasts for 9 days) with Puri -a deep-fried fluffy bread made from wheat or flour. Since this is a dessert, the only thing to keep in mind is the ratio.

We will have two separate takes on this Halwa - the first one is the more traditional one that people in India are more likely to be familiar with. The second variant is common amongst the Indian community in Fiji - they do it somewhat differently, and I felt it is worth sharing.




The Indian recipe we have listed below serves 2-3 people with a 5-6 min preparation time and a 10-15 minutes cooking time.

The key ingredients for this dish are patience and commitment. The rest can be bought online or from your nearest supermarket.


Ingredients

  1. Suji/Semolina - 1 cup

  2. Sugar - 3/4 cup

  3. Ghee - 2 tbsp ( you can add more )

  4. Milk - 1 cup

  5. Elaichi/Green Cardamom - 4-5 crushed

  6. Kesar/ Saffron strands - 4-5 ( soaked in hot milk for 6 hours)

  7. Almonds - 6-7 (finely chopped)

  8. Pistachios - 6-7 (finely chopped)

  9. Coconut Shavings - 3 tbsp

* you can add any nuts you want.


Procedure

  1. In a pan, add Suji, almonds, pistachios, coconut shavings. On a medium flame, keep toasting the ingredients for 5-7 mins till you see them slightly brown. Keep stirring them continuously.

  2. Add ghee and mix them again for another 2-3 mins.

  3. Then add milk and saffron. Using a silicone spatula, mix the ingredients evenly to make sure that no lumps being formed.

  4. After the milk is mixed and you get a semi-solid texture, bring the gas down to low, add sugar and mix well.


 

Time for the second take - the way Suji Halwa is prepared in Fiji. The fundamental difference is that they do not use sugar. Instead, they use condensed milk, which adds creaminess and sweetness to the dish.


Ingredients

  1. Suji/Semolina - 1 cup

  2. Ghee - 1/2 cup ( you can add more )

  3. Milk - 2 cups

  4. Condensed Milk - 250g. If this doesn't feel sweet enough, feel free to top up with sugar.

  5. Elaichi/Green Cardamom - 4-5 crushed

  6. Almonds - 6-7. How you chop almonds up is completely up to you.

  7. Pistachios - 6-7

  8. Nutmeg - 1/2

  9. Coconut Shavings - 3 tbsp

  10. Salt - 3/4 tsp, but can adjust

Procedure

  1. Crush the pistachios and the nutmeg into a coarse powder. Remember to sift away the hard skin of the pistachio. Keep this aside, we will use this later on.

  2. If you prefer toasted almonds, toast them on a dry flame and then keep them aside. If not, you can skip this step completely.

  3. Heat Ghee in a pan or wok on medium heat. Do not let it burn.

  4. Once the Ghee is hot, add in the Suji and the salt. Toast the Suji until it turns to a golden colour. At this point, the Suji will also release its characteristic aroma.

  5. Now the milk and condensed milk can be added in.

  6. Stir with a spatula as it starts to solidify. Ensure there are no clumps.

  7. Now add in the coarse powder from step 1 and mix them well with the Halwa. As the dish solidifies the pistachio and nutmeg will be evenly distributed throughout.

  8. When the dish reaches a semi-solid texture. kill off the heat altogether. Allow the dish to firm up with the heat of the pan.

  9. Garnish with coconut shavings and the almonds from step 2.

So there you have it, two different yet equally delicious ways of preparing Halwa by two cultures presented by two different authors :) If you have a different approach to create this dish, as always, we are all ears and would love to hear your take in the comments section below.


See you in the next one!


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