I have a long list of favorite Indian breakfast and Sooji Halwa tops the list especially if served with some Khasta Ajwain Poori (recipe coming soon). Sooji Halwa is also referred to as sheera and is a famous Indian pudding prepared withsemolina. Sooji is semolina and Halwa is sweet porridge or pudding. It’s prepared all over India and has several different names. Rava Halwa, Kesari Bhath, Sajjige and Shujir Payeshare few of those names I am familiar with.
What is Semolina or Sooji
Semolina is flour made from durum wheat and it’s either slightly fine or course. It is used to prepare pudding, sweet or savory porridge and even delicious cakes.
Sooji Halwa is popularly prepared during festive season; Navratri and Durga Puja as an offering to Goddess Durga. I love Sooji Halwa so much, that I can go for it any day either plain or with poori. I do like to load it with raisins and cashew for the crunchy bites in between.
Toasting the Semolina/Sooji:
This step is extremely crucial as it not only adds flavor but also avoid the final texture of the halwa turning into muggy and at times even tasting raw.
I prefer to dry toast the sooji in a medium hot pan until brown in color and then add it separately to the ghee.
You could also just toast the semolina straight away in the ghee while preparing the halwa.
Sooji Halwa needs water or milk?
This is common question people ask when preparing this for the first time. You could use either or both. I like to add both in equal portion as milk makes it creamier.
Adding the sweetener
Typically, Sugar is dissolved in water, milk or a mix of both by simmering it for a while. It is then poured on the toasted semolina to prepare the halwa.
Simultaneously you could add sugar later too after pouring the milk to the toasted semolina.
Sooji Halwa is prepared with ghee
It is the ghee that brings out flavor and richness of the sooji halwa. You cannot substitute it with oil. Equal portion of ghee and semolina makes the best halwa. But I avoid adding so much ghee. I also don’t like over the top sweet, so I cut down sugar too. I do add more water and milk because I like halwa creamy and soft. Don’t even mind if it’s a little runny.
So, definitely adjust the quantity of the ingredients accordingly as per you liking and taste bud.
What you need for Sooji Halwa
- Bay leaf (this is not typically added, but my Bengali taste bud loves bay leafs in any pudding )
- Few green cardamoms
- Milk or water or a mix of both
- Mix of cashew, almonds and raisins.
How to prepare Sooji Halwa
Dry roast the sooji until it’s golden brown in color. I like to roast it dark as it gives a darker shade to the pudding too. It’s extremely important to roast the semolina or else the texture will turn out muggy and flavor will not be there.
Mix water with milk, if using both and add the sugar. Simmer for a while for the sugar to dissolve. Keep in mind you are not making any syrup here.
Then cook the roasted sooji in ghee along with the cardamoms and bay leaf. Pour the warm water and milk and keep stirring until the semolina is cooked through.
KEYNOTE: Keep in mind that based on the kind of semolina you are using; you might have to add more water to get the right consistency of the pudding. Also, as the pudding sets and cools down, it keeps absorbing moisture and the texture can get very thick. I always prefer to leave it little runny so as it cools down, it’s still has enough moisture left in it.