I love homemade Halwa whether it is made of Aata (Whole wheat), gajar (Carrots), besan (Gram flour) or the omnipresent Sooji (semolina). Growing up, a special occasion in the house meant that halwa would definitely be made!
I have sat on the kitchen countertop numerous times smelling it, watching it being roasted, washed with sugary water and simmered to perfection. The harsh sound of a steel spatula scratching a kadhai to move the powder in the ghee, the sizzle of the water being poured in the hot kadhai, and the eventual bubbling of the frothy mass when it simmers; watching halwa being made is the ultimate food porn for me!
And no surprises here that I am a bit of a halwa snob!
These are criteria to consider while making the perfect flour-based Halwa:
How well is the flour roasted, is it underdone or burnt (gasp!) or just right? Roasting halwa properly requires a lot of patience; you have to stir it often enough so as to not burn the flour mix. But if it’s underdone and you have added the water, then it cannot be saved! The nutty flavour in the halwa comes only through properly roasting the flour to a golden brown. If the halwa looks white or pale, it is just undercooked.
What is the proportion of flour, water and sugar. The sugar of course varies according to one’s preference but when you’re handling Sooji (semolina), the halwa requires a proportion of 4 cups of water to 1 cup of sooji. That is because Sooji absorbs more water than other flours. For Besan the proportion is 2 – 1//2 to 3 cups of water for every cup of Besan. Besan Halwas usually have a bit of sooji and atta mixed in them. If the sooji halwa has less water it will seem dry and have crispy bits as against the desirable creamy. Too much water in a Besan halwa will just take you forever to reduce to the right consistency.
The amount of ghee in the halwa. A good halwa requires a generous dose of ghee while roasting the flour. If you’re stingy on the ghee the halwa would be lumpy and dry. And the ghee is actually not that bad for your health.
I learnt this recipe by watching my mom and grandma make this halwa over and over again. I’ve eaten halwa made by other people but nothing ever comes close to how the Punjabis make it! I have two other recipes for halwas on the blog to which you’ll find links below. Proportions change when you’re making atta halwa or besan halwa. But sooji halwa is a more common dish as compared.
Follow this recipe to the T and you will know what a North Indian halwa should taste like!
I know I sound really cocky right now but there’s a reason for it . Told you I was a snob! 😁 Something you’ll understand only once you taste this halwa!
1 cup Sooji (semolina)
2 tablespoons Besan (gramflour/chickpea flour)
1 tablespoon Aata (whole wheat flour)
3-4 tablespoons of Ghee/ Clarified Butter (atleast!)
A handful of nuts – chopped ( I use only Almonds)
8-10 raisins (washed and soaked for 10 mins)
2 cardamom pods – crushed
4 cups of water
3/4 to 1 cup of granulated sugar
Roasting and Prep
Measure a cup of sooji and place in a big bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of besan (gram flour) and a tablespoon of atta (whole wheat flour).
In another bowl, add a cup of granulated sugar. You can use less sugar if you don’t want the halwa to be very sweet. I usually use 3/4th of a cup. Add 4 cups of room temperature water to the sugar. Mix in the sugar to dissolve it in the water. It need not be fully dissolved but stir for as long as you can. Pound the cardamom pods roughly in a mortar and pestle and put in the water.
Wash the raisins and add to the sugary water.
Chop the nuts and keep aside.
Place a heavy bottomed kadhai on a medium-low heat.
Put the ghee in the wok and wait for it to melt.
Once melted, add the flour mix in the Kadhai (Indian wok) and stir well so the ghee is soaked in. If the mix seems too powdery or crumbly, add a little more ghee, maybe half a tablespoon at a time. The flour ghee mix should be like almost like a paste.
Start stirring the mix around the Kadhai and do not leave it unattended.
Soon you will be able to take in the aroma of the roasted flour. Do not change the level of heat on your stove. The colour of the flour will change slowly to a light golden.
Keep stirring the mix and be careful to not let it burn. This is the most crucial step and requires patience. When the flour is golden add the chopped nuts and stir well. Cook the nuts in the mix for not more than 2 minutes now.
Adding the sugar syrup
Pour the sugary water into the kadhai in a steady stream with one hand while gently stirring the flour mix in the kadhai with the other. It’ll be hot so be careful of the steam and splashes. Stirring helps to prevent lumps in the halwa.
You’ll find a watery mix where sooji particles are settling down if not stirred.
The stirring can be in intervals now but you can still not leave this unattended.
Wait for the halwa to come to a roaring boil. It will start bubbling soon (be careful!) and the there will be a white frothy layer soon because of the sugar has started cooking.
Keep stirring the boiling halwa till it becomes thicker. Once you are happy with the consistency shut the heat and let it cool a bit before serving.
If you cannot wait for it to cool down, serve it in a small plates. It cools faster that way.
Serve this Sooji Halwa with a side of sookhe chane and freshly made pooris to make the meal complete!