Ramadan Recipe Series part 3 – Sooji Halwa (Sweet Semolina)
Last night was a particularly auspicious night in the month of Ramadan. The 23rd night of Ramadan, known as Laylat al-Qadr is believed to be the night that the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Mohammed.
The Bohra community regards this important date with a night-long of prayer. And food, to keep the pace of prayers going (you knew I’d be getting to the food didn’t you…) Every household has its own collection of food items that are prepared. At my home, apart from the traditional dried fruits and nuts, sweetened saffron milk, copious amounts of coffee and the star of the night, a Sweet Semolina pudding are served.
Sweet Semolina known as Sooji Halwa in Hindi, is a dish prepared on most auspicious and religious days in my Muslim sub-community. What I find really interesting is, that Hindus, Gujaratis and many other religious communities also prepare this very dessert on their religious occasions. In India, the food of every religious group really lends from one another. It goes without saying then, that the lady of an Indian household must know how to prepare this dish.
But apart from its religious significance, it is a truly delicious and nutritious dessert. Semolina, as we all know is made from wheat. What also goes in, is saffron, sliced dried nuts and raisins, all cooked together with milk and sugar. Here’s how you make it:
To make Sooji Halwa for 2-3 people, you will need:
- 1/2 cup fine Semolina – you will get the coarse and the fine variety in grocery stores. Buy the fine semolina
- A mixture of 1/2 cup water and 1 cup milk, mixed and kept aside
- 1/2 cup ghee or clarified butter
- 4 tbsp of sugar, or more to taste
- A pinch of saffron for color and fragrance(optional)
- Sliced almonds and pistachios, as per preference
- A few golden raisins
- In a saucepan, bring the water and milk mixture to a boil, with the sugar and saffron. The milk will turn a lovely amber color because of the saffron
- In another pot, heat the ghee to medium-high heat. Once heated, toast the semolina in it on medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Cook until the semolina is a light brown and very fragrant
- Turn off the heat, and slowly add the milk mixture, stirring simultaneously. Turn the heat back on low and keep stirring, breaking any lumps that are formed. Keep cooking until the volume of the semolina reduces, and the ghee starts to separate from the sides of the pot.
- If you feel the semolina needs some more water to cook, add a little cold water and continue to cook till the semolina is fully fluffed and cooked. To know whether the semolina is cooked, its should taste soft like pasta. If it has a bite to it, the semolina needs more cooking
- Garnish with sliced nuts and raisins. Serve warm