My mom said suji halwa (pronounced soo-jee hull-vuh) is more of a holiday dessert (often for festivals like Diwali), but to me it’s an “anytime my mom or anyone else who knows how to make it will make it” treat.
For those who are unfamiliar, it’s made from semolina flour, the same type used to make cream of wheat. I’ve also heard the dish described as semolina pudding, which seems about right, although the halwa I’ve typically encountered has a denser consistency than most pudding I’ve tried. It’s rich and buttery and I’ve pretty much always loved it.
My mom was in town recently, so I thought I’d take advantage of the opportunity and have her share the recipe. It was the only Indian dish I asked her about that didn’t take an hour and a half to prepare. In fact, it’s done in less than 20 minutes! So it’s an all-around winner. —Natalie
*Note that the recipe generally calls for 8 tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter), so if you keep ghee on hand, go for it. I don’t, so we used regular butter instead. And since I figured I’d end up eating a lot of the batch myself (as per usual), I opted for 5 tablespoons instead of 8, which makes for the yummy, more crumbly texture shown here.
Crush cardamom pods with mortar and pestle to separate the pods from the seeds. Set aside.
Add 2 cups water, plus sugar and cardamom pods (not seeds) to saucepan on medium-high heat. Let water come to a full boil, stirring occasionally to ensure sugar melts into the water. Then reduce heat to medium-low and let it continue to boil gently.
In a large frying pan, dry roast suji on medium heat until light brown and fragrant, stirring constantly. This will take 2 to 4 minutes.
Add butter, cardamom seeds and 1 tablespoon almonds to frying pan and cook for another 2 to 4 minutes until the butter is fully incorporated into the semolina, stirring constantly.
Reduce saucepan heat to low and remove cardamom pods. Slowly add water-sugar mixture to frying pan little by little (since it will sizzle), stirring often. Continue to cook and stir for 2 to 4 minutes. It’s done when the water is absorbed and the halwa mixture separates in a mass and leaves some butter visible at the sides of the pan.
Let cool just a tad and scoop into dishes. Then crush pistachio with mortar and pestle and use it to garnish, along with remaining almond slivers.