So our very first taste of suji ka halwa (Indian semolina pudding) was at the Hindu temple our grandparents used to frequent in Southall and occasionally drag us to on Sundays. Part of the ritual involved being given prashad from the priest – the sacrament, or the physical presence of God’s blessing. It could be a banana or apple (yawn) but famously, and on our favourite days, it was a small bag of suji ka halwa each. Cold (although it can be eaten warm too), fluffy, sweet and with nuts – we usually inhaled it during the ride home. Maybe it’s the sweet, fluffy blandness of it or our memories of being doted on by various family members/”aunties” at the temple, but, to this day, we associate this pudding with that warm fuzzy feeling.
It’s also one of the desserts that you make to celebrate special occasions in India, particularly in winter, to stave off harsh north Indian winds. Certainly not the kind of thing you eat (much less make!) at 10pm on an unusually hot and humid summer’s night in England, when ice cream is more appealing. But we ran out of ice cream and our mother, who was visiting, required dessert (it’s genetic).
So after rummaging through our cupboards, we came up with vegan suji ka halwa (aka we ran out of butter). Traditional halwa is made with ghee/clarified butter but we made this with coconut oil and it’s just as good. Really really! We ate it hot because we’re greedy but cold is good too! You can also add sultanas, saffron and other types of nuts – feel free to be creative 🙂
Makes 4-6 portions
1 cup coarse semolina
1/2 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup caster sugar
3 cups water
a few drops of cardamom essence
handful of cashews
- In the biggest cast iron or heavy pan you can find, heat the coconut oil on high heat for 10 seconds and then add the semolina. Lower the heat and cook (stirring from time to time) until the semolina is golden in colour.
- In a separate pan, make a sugar syrup by cooking the water and sugar on a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Then slowly – and carefully – add the sugar syrup to the semolina one ladle at a time. Every ladleful will create a lot of steam/splatter!
- Add the cardamom essence (or ground cardamom if more convenient) and cashews. Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Then bring the mixture down to a simmer and cook until the liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently.
- Serve immediately and enjoy or store in the fridge for a couple of days.
So what do you think? Feel free to share your questions and comments below! We’d love to hear what you have to say.