This is my take on the famous North Indian Sooji Halwa where I add my some bits of my Bengali version of Sujir Payesh! The end result is a creamy, rich and melting in mouth sooji ka halwa that you can eat on its own or with poori.
What is Sooji Halwa
Literary translating to semolina pudding, sooji halwa is a famous North Indian dessert, often served during festive seasons and enjoyed even for breakfast.
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.
It pairs very well with Masala Poori
Ingredients you need for Sooji Halwa
Semolina - You can use either fine semolina or a grainier texture. Both will make great taste of the halwa, but the texture will differ based on what variety of semolina you use.
I like to toast semolina extra dark for the toasty flavor. Also toasting semolina, avoid the halwa from getting too muggy or mushy.
Sugar - I used light brown sugar as I toasted the semolina, and the brown color add to the over all look. Traditionally, white sugar is used.
Assorted Nuts and Raisins - Nuts and Raisins are totally optional, but I will highly recommend using for the sweetness and crunch you will get at every bite.
Bay leaves and Green Cardamoms - North Indian Sooji Halwa uses only cardamom, some even uses the black cardamoms. The Bengali Sooji payesh always uses couple bay leaves for the perfumy flavor. And I love that too.
Ghee - All halwa is prepared in ghee as it not only adds creamy texture but also richness and flavor to the dish. You will not get the same flavor or taste by using oil.
Milk - Traditionally North Indian style sooji halwa doesn't call for milk, but once again I took a side track and used milk like how we use in Bengali sooji payesh. I love how mil adds that creamy consistency to the halwa.
The exact measurement is mentioned in recipe card below.
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 and then add it separately to the ghee.
You could also just toast the semolina straight away in the ghee while preparing the halwa.
Steps to prepare
- Toast the semolina in a clean heavy bottom pan by stirring constantly at medium low heat until it looks even brown.
- Take the toasted semolina off the pan and add ghee to the pan along with the assorted nuts and raisins. I used cashew and finely sliced almond. Stir in low heat for few seconds and then take the whole things to a different bowl.
3. Add more ghee to the same pan and saute the bay leaves along with green cardamoms for few seconds.
4. Scatter the toasted semolina and make sure to keep the heat at medium low
5. I like to toast the semolina in ghee for a minute or two once again. You can skip step 1 and directly toast the raw semolina in ghee until golden.
6. Add enough water to cook the semolina. It will take roughly 5 minutes.
7. Pour milk if using and continue cooking the semolina by stirring occasionally.
8. Once the semolina is cooked, add the sugar. I used light brown sugar here, but you can use white sugar too.
9. Also scatter the toasted nuts and raisins that were kept aside and mix it around.
10. Taste for sweetness and add more if needed. The semolina will look very creamy and runny but as it cools down, it will thicken a bit more.
As you can see from the steps I used here, it is a mix of North Indian Sooji Halwa and Bengali Sooji Payesh. It's absolutely delicious and you must try!
Reheating Sooji Halwa
You can easily reheat in microwave, however if the halwa was stored in the fridge overnight, it will look little dry. So, add little milk or water while reheating and add a small about of ghee to bring the fresh flavor back.
This is a 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.
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.
It is the ghee that brings out the flavor and richness of the sooji halwa. You cannot substitute it with oil. An equal portion of ghee and semolina makes the best halwa. But I avoid adding so much ghee!
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 a little runny so as it cools down, it still has enough moisture left in it.
Try these Indian dessert
- ½ cup semolina
- ⅓ cup sugar (brown or white)
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup milk
- ¼ cup ghee
- 3 green cardamoms
- 3 very small bay leaf
- ¼ cup Assorted nuts, cashew and sliced almond
- 2 tablespoon raisins
- In a heavy bottom pan, dry roast the semolina in medium low heat until it's brown, then take it off the pan.
- To the same pan, add half of the ghee and roast the nuts and raisins for about 1 minute. Then take it off to a bowl.
- To the same pan pour the rest of the ghee, along with bay leaves and cardamoms. Stir it around for a few seconds, then add the roasted semolina.
- I roast the semolina for a couple more minutes in the ghee before pouring the water. Let the semolina cook in water for about 5 minutes. Then pour the milk and continue cooking. Keep in mind it will splatter, so keep the heat at medium low as you stir occasionally, and you can choose to cover the pan too.
- Once the semolina is cooked, add the sugar and mix it around. Add the roasted nuts and raisins and stir it around. Taste for sweetness and add more sugar if needed.
- Sooji Halwa texture will thicken as it cools down to room temperature.
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