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  • Atta ka Halwa

    YIELD: 2 cups / 470 mL
    TOOLS: You’ll need a medium stockpot; a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan with a lid; and a mortar and pestle.
    VEGANIZE IT! You can easily substitute vegetable oil (canola, vegetable, or grapeseed) for the ghee. The first time my mother and I tried substituting with oil, we were amazed at how much we preferred the taste. It tasted cleaner, but still felt authentic. We also tried substituting Earth Balance vegan margarine, but the result was a little salty.
    MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: I was hopping up and down when I successfully made my favorite dessert without wheat gluten. Substitute quinoa flour for the atta and follow the steps, but change the cooking time in Step 3 to 8 minutes. Quinoa flour is a little thinner and more delicate, so I found that I had to stir constantly during Step 3 to make sure it didn’t burn. But, take it from me, it’s delicious—I couldn’t tell the difference.

    The story goes that when my mother first visited my father’s village as a new bride, she was surprised when she was offered this seemingly crass version of halwa. In her larger town, it was made from cream of wheat rather than just wheat flour. But, it took just a few bites to convince her that this village version of this dessert used in prayers and made during festivals is actually superior in taste to any other you will ever eat. My mouth still waters thinking about the hot, warm ball of sweet dough made sweeter by the occasional juicy raisin. Run—don’t walk—to your kitchen to make this.

    • 1 1/2 cups /350 mL water
    • 1/2 cup /100 g granulated or raw cane sugar, such as Sucanat
    • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
    • 1/2 cup /120 mL ghee or unsalted butter
    • 3/4 cup /100 g chapati flour (atta)
    • 6–8 almonds, roughly chopped
    • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder, ground as finely as possible in a mortar and pestle
    • Ground pistachios and/or almonds, for garnish
    • Fresh Puris and a curry, for serving (optional)
    1. In a medium stockpot, combine the water, sugar, and raisins. Using Sucanat will give the halwa a brownish color. Bring to a boil.
    2. Reduce the heat to medium and gently simmer while prepping the remaining ingredients.
    3. In a separate heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan over medium–high heat, warm the ghee. Once the ghee has melted, stir in the chapati flour and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, for 10 minutes.
    4. Add the almonds and cardamom powder and stir well. It’s best when the cardamom is ground into a very fine powder, so be sure to put some muscle into the mortar and pestle. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, until the mixture becomes very aromatic and begins to pull away slightly from the sides of the pan.
    5. With the lid of the sauté pan handy, carefully and slowly pour the contents of the stockpot into the sauté pan containing the mixture from Steps 3 and 4. Everything will initially steam and splash up, so be ready to quickly cover it. Once the mixture begins to settle down, remove the cover and stir constantly as you cook for 5 minutes, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Remove from the heat, cover, and set aside for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the halwa to settle (if you can wait that long, that is!).
    6. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with the pistachios and/or almonds and serve warm as a dessert or as a side dish with fresh Puris and a curry. We love sweet and sour tastes, all in one bite.

Indian For Everyone by Anupy Singla. Copyright © 2014 Anupy Singla. Published by Agate Publishing. All rights reserved.

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