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  • Sooji ka Halwa

    YIELD: 2½ cups / 590 mL
    TOOLS: You’ll need a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan with a lid; a plate; a medium stockpot; and a mortar and pestle.
    VEGANIZE IT! You can easily substitute vegetable oil (canola, vegetable, or grapeseed) for the ghee. We also tried substituting Earth Balance vegan margarine but the result was a little salty.
    MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: Substitute cream of rice cereal for the cream of wheat and follow the same instructions.

    When most Indians think of halwa, they think of this version made from cream of wheat. It’s delicious and a wonderful splurge after dinner or as a snack.

    • 3/4 cup /130 g coarse cream of wheat
    • 1 1/2 cups /350 mL water
    • 1/2 cup /100 g granulated or raw cane sugar, such as Sucanat
    • 2 tablespoons golden raisins
    • 1/4 cup /60 mL ghee or unsalted butter
    • 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. Place the cream of wheat in a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan over medium–high heat and dry roast for 2 to 3 minutes, until it is just toasted and lightly brown. During the entire cooking time, shake the pan every 15 to 20 seconds to prevent burning. When dry roasting, never leave the pan unattended—the cream of wheat can easily burn. Remove from the heat, transfer to a plate, and set aside to cool for 15 minutes. Wipe the sauté pan clean. At most Indian grocers, you can purchase cream of wheat preroasted. If you do so, simply skip this step.
    2. In a medium stockpot over medium–high heat, combine the water, sugar, and raisins. Using Sucanat will give the halwa a brownish color. Bring to a boil.
    3. Reduce the heat to medium and gently simmer while prepping the remaining ingredients.
    4. Return the heavy-bottomed, 4-quart / 4-L sauté pan to medium–high heat, and add the ghee. Once the ghee has melted, stir in the roasted cream of wheat and cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, for 10 minutes.
    5. 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.
    6. With the lid of the sauté pan handy, carefully and slowly pour the contents of the stockpot from Step 2 into the sauté pan containing the mixture from Steps 4 and 5. 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 2 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!).
    7. 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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