Halwas are easy and delicious Indian desserts that have a pudding-like texture. They can be made with all kinds of ingredients (even ones normally associated with savory foods) ranging from lentils and veggies to fruits and grains.
This recipe for sooji ka halwa ("made with semolina") is a popular version with many families because it is one of those simple but very satisfying desserts that hits the sweet spot every time.
The trick to getting sooji ka halwa right is in the browning of the sooji (semolina) and in the proportions of liquid to grain, so follow this recipe exactly to get the best results.
- Heat a deep pan over medium heat and when it is hot, add the ghee. When the ghee melts, add the sooji and stir to mix well.
- Roast the sooji (stirring frequently) until it begins to turn a very light golden color and gives off a faint aroma. This aroma is enough to make your mouth water! The roasted sooji will have the grainy consistency of wet sand at the beach.
- Add the cashews and raisins to the sooji and mix well.
- While you are roasting the sooji, in a separate pot over medium heat, bring the water, milk, sugar, and cardamom to a rolling boil, stirring often.
- This next step involves much bubbling and splashing so be prepared and careful! When the sooji is roasted, gently add the water-milk mixture, stirring all the while to prevent lumps from forming. Sometimes it helps to have a cooking partner who will pour while you stir.
- If any lumps do form, make sure to break them with the back of the stirring spoon so you get a smooth paste-like consistency.
- Cook the mixture until it is thick and begins to come away from the sides of the pan.
- Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm. Serve in individual bowls, garnished with coarsely chopped dried fruit or nuts if desired.