Cherry Halwa

By • June 25, 2010 14 Comments

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Author Notes: Sweets made with various combinations of semolina, sugar and spices can be found across India, Pakistan, Turkey and Iran. The Indian version, fragrant with cardamom, nuts and raisins, was always a favorite of mine growing up. Versions made richer with milk and ghee (clarified butter) in place of water and oil are prepared to take to the temple as an offering to the gods.
Here I have created a version using cherries in place of raisins to make a delicious seasonal dish for June. Dried cherries can be used when fresh cherries are not available. To make sure the dish is sweet and not tart, use the sweet dark red cherries. For those who like their dessert more sweet, the sugar can be increased to equal or even double the amount of semolina. Pistachios can be added or substituted for toasted almonds. - CafeAnna

Food52 Review: Is it possible to feel nostalgic when tasting something that you had never tried before? Perhaps it was the warm, cozy, comforting deliciousness of CafeAnna's Cherry Halwa that overlapped with memories from some other place and time. At the stove, the nutty fragrance of the toasting semolina releases almost instantly, and a heady dose of cardamom will envelop you completely (it is certainly no chore to breathe it all in while you diligently stir). In the bowl, plump fresh cherries add nice juicy fruity bites, and some whole milk stirred in is a last perfect luscious touch. CafeAnna's halwa is light, spoonable, and sure to be as lovely for breakfast as it is for dessert any day of the year. - Jennifer AnnThe Editors

Serves 4-6

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom (grind the seeds from fresh green cardamom if available)
  • 1 cup semolina
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 8-10 cherries pitted and halved (or 1/4 cup of dried cherries)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons almonds toasted and chopped roughly plus a few extra toasted almonds for garnish
  • 1/2 cup milk or condensed milk (optional)
  1. Measure all your ingredients first--you won't be able to multi-task when you are making the dish!
  2. In a small pot add water and sugar and heat until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and set aside.
  3. In a flat bottomed skillet add oil and heat on medium. Add the bay leaf and semolina. Keep stirring the semolina to brown it slowly without burning. After about10 minutes, add the cardamom to the semolina Keep stirring for another 8 to 10 minutes until the semolina turns a golden brown color. (This requires patience…it will brown, just give it some time!)
  4. Once the semolina has browed, keep stirring and slowly add the sugar water syrup into the semolina. Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a simmer and stir continuously until all the liquid is absorbed. Fold in the cherries and chopped almonds (leave a few whole almonds for garnish). Turn off the heat and remove the bay leaf. Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with a few almonds. Top with warm milk for a richer taste (fit for the gods!) The halwa is delicious served hot or cold.

Tags: Bengali, indian, sweet

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Comments (14) Questions (0)


about 5 years ago yummyehw

Oh, I'm so excited to have a cherry dessert to try. Semolina--yum! Thanks for sharing this recipe.


about 5 years ago Delish

Although I'm a big fan of raisins, I think the cherries make this dish really special. In addition to adding their summery sweet and tart flavor, they add color and pizazz.


about 5 years ago theicp

Wow - what a great idea. Would LOVE to try this!


about 5 years ago CafeAnna

Thanks for saying. I hope you do try it--it is a pretty quick and satisfying dessert for nonbakers like me!


about 5 years ago culinarycallie

The subtle mix of sweet and earthy is enticing. The cherries provide a juicy, refreshing burst of flavor. Delicious.


about 5 years ago CafeAnna

Thanks for your addition of the word "earthy." I like it!


about 5 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Love the cherries + bay + cardomom combination in a sweet! My cherry jam of choice the past few years has included bay . . . .will have to add some cardamom to a batch this year. Yummmm! ;o)


about 5 years ago CafeAnna

That sounds like a great jam. Hope you post your version with cardamom and let us know how it turned out!


about 5 years ago CafeAnna

I hope you add it to your summer cooking! Let me know how it works out with your dishes.


about 5 years ago aargersi

Abbie is a trusted source on General Cooking.

I love these flavors - is it eaten sort of like a pudding?


about 5 years ago CafeAnna

I hope you try it--the spice and fruit combination is nice. Yes, it is like a pudding (even called Indian style pudding sometimes!) If you add the milk/condensed milk it makes it a more fluid type of pudding texture. Let me know if you try making it.
I saw your breakfast polenta--this is definitely the recipe I am going to make to start my experiments with polenta! Thanks!


about 5 years ago ChezSharon

This is delicious! Very fresh tasting. The American palate may find it not sweet enough, especially if you use milk or soy milk, not condensed milk.


about 5 years ago CafeAnna

Thanks, that's probably true! When my sweet tooth needs a little more, I either increase the amount of sugar or drizzle maple syrup over it.


about 5 years ago grilljen

This looks delicious! Can't wait to try this....a great summer desert.