Warming up the winters with Sooji ka Halwa and chai

Published: December 11, 2014
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Semolina halwa is especially cooked in Pakistan on Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) birthday and distributed amongst neighbours and poor households. PHOTO: AMBREEN MALIK

Sooji (semolina) halwa was amongst the first few things I learnt to cook primarily because it took less time to cook and I loved its mild sweetness. I was never much of a halwa puri breakfast fan as the deep-fried puris don’t sit very well with my tummy. The halwa, however, if homemade, was my favourite with some tea during cold winter afternoons.

Sooji halwa is especially cooked in Pakistan on Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) birthday and distributed amongst neighbours and poor households. Given the fact that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was born and passed away on the same day, the sweet halwa is cooked in the morning to mark the celebration of his birth. In the evening, a salty, savoury rice pilaf is cooked to mark his passing. This is one Pakistani tradition I particularly miss being a Pakistani expatriate.

I am on an extended stay in Pakistan these days and the approaching winters are making me long for things I have long forgotten. M* insisted that I make some halwa because she was dying to have some, and so I did.

Here is how I went about it;

Ingredients:

Semolina (Sooji) – 1 cup

Sugar – ½ cup

Whole milk – 2 ½ cups

Butter – 100 grams

Egg – 1

Dried coconut – 3 to 4 tbsp (flaked)

Raisins – 12 to 14

Almonds – 12 to14 (chopped)

Edible silver – 2 to 3 leaves

Photo: Ambreen Malik

Method:

1. Melt the butter in a pan and mix sooji to it once melted. Once mixed well, it will become like wet sand.

2. Cook on high heat till sooji changes colour and you can smell the fragrance of the cooked sooji. It’s similar to cooked flour in butter for béchamel sauce.

Photo: Ambreen Malik

3. Mix half the milk with the beaten egg in a separate pan. Remove the sooji mixture from the heat and add the milk and egg mixture into it and mix vigorously. Put the pan back on high heat and mix further. Now add the remaining milk and sugar, and mix well.

4. Add raisins to the mixture.

Photo: Ambreen Malik

5. Keep mixing till the milk dries up and the halwa starts sticking together like a bread loaf. This will take about three to five minutes.

6. Remove from the heat and spread it out in a tray lined with parchment paper. Let it cool. The cooking time in total is about 15 minutes.

Photo: Ambreen Malik

7. Once cooled, garnish with chopped almonds and coconut. Cut in bite size pieces and dress them with edible silver.

Photo: Ambreen Malik

Photo: Ambreen Malik

Since winters are here again, why don’t you guys give this recipe a try? Trust me, sooji ka halwa and a nice cup of tea on the porch is pure bliss in the winters.

This post originally appeared here.

Ambreen Malik

Ambreen Malik

The author is a Microfinance Banker, food blogger, LSE Alum and a dragon in training. She tweets as @ambreen_malik (twitter.com/ambreen_malik)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.