Suji halwa - a delicious eid treat
Updated: Dec 11, 2018
Halwa is popular all over South Asia and the South Asian diaspora. It marks occasions such as Eid, Diwali and other festivities and is generally eaten to celebrate good news. Sometimes and I mean sometimes, it's eaten for no apparent reason at all (enter Dina on a bored day). A Bangladeshi household is just incomplete without it.
Best eaten warm, it's probably unlike anything you've eaten previously - soft, unctuous and sweetly fragrant from roasted warming spices such as cinnamon and cardamom. You can add any combination of nuts and dried fruits - whatever your heart desires! Saffron is sometimes added, which provides a nice colour and distinct flavour but I wasn't able to go out and buy some so I've left it out. Even if you don't have a sickly sweet tooth like yours truly you can still enjoy this as it needn't be too sweet. Try the recipe and if it's too sweet adjust for next time.
Suji Halwa is the first sweet dish my mum taught me to make. Like a lot of Bengali/South Asian desserts it requires a small labour of love, as the cooking process takes place stove top from start to finish, as opposed to prepping for the oven when you are baking. This one's not for you slow cooker types who want to grab a magazine and put your feet up while in front of the TV. Measurements are really simple. A teacup sized measuring cup usually serves four. I used a largeish ramekin to measure my ingredients so feel free to put away the weighing scales if you're feeling confident.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 Stick cinnamon
6 cardamoms slightly crushed
1 bay leaf
1 cup semolina (about 150g)
3/4 cup sugar (about 110g)
2 cups water (400ml)
2/3 cup milk (170ml)
1/2 cup melted butter (100ml)
1/4cup almonds and cashews slivered (2 tbs each)
1/6 cup raisins (2 tbs)
Heat butter in a large pan on a low flame and when it melts add the spices and stir for around 10 seconds then add the nuts. Toast nuts for about 30 seconds then add raisins and toast a further 10 seconds. Add semolina and roast over low heat 6-8 mins until nutty aroma is released and it takes on a light golden colour.
Take off heat and add sugar, water and milk - very carefully as it will spatter! Turn up heat for a medium flame and return the pan to the stove. Continue stirring – 5-7 mins until the moisture is absorbed and the halwa is thickened to a soft dough like consistency.
Turn off flame and cover and leave covered for few mins before serving. Garnish with flaked almonds, if desired.