Halwa or Halvah or Halva. No matter how you spell it, there is no denying that it brings back a gush of sweet celebratory memories for most of us. I am yet to meet someone from the Indian subcontinent who does not enjoy one or more kinds of halwa. And if you are new to this phenomenon called halwa, let me give you a brief glimpse.
What Is Halwa?
Halwa, much like its Persian/Turkish/Middle-eastern cousin is a sugary, fudgy pudding associated with (but not limited to) celebrations. As per popular belief halwa originally traveled to South Asia with the Mughals who themselves were from Persia. Now, this fact about its origin itself is highly debatable but what is beyond doubt is that the Indians made this dessert their own. The recipe was adapted to make halwa out of even vegetables like gourd and pumpkin. Carrot, semolina, moong dal, and whole wheat flour being some other popular varieties. What is also not debatable is that based on time on hand and level of expertise, there is a halwa for every occasion and every individual.
The semolina or suji halwa recipe I have on the blog is one of the quickest to put together and so is the atta halwa. Carrot halwa is seasonal in nature but our favourite goto dessert on chilly winter evenings when red carrots are abundantly available. But this Moong Dal Halwa, if I may say, is like no other, not in taste and definitely not in the amount of effort that is needed to put it together. All worth the effort in the end though. It truly is unique, tastes divine, and not for the faint-hearted.
Get Your Moong Dal Halwa Right!
I do not make it very often as it needs full attention for almost an hour and there is no multitasking and parallel processing while cooking this deliciousness. It is also quite heavy on the calories. But each time I do, we savour it and enjoy it guilt-free. And that is how my friend you might want to too :))
So, a few points to keep in mind before you venture to cook Moong Dal Halwa:
- Do not be in a rush. Remember good things take time and patience is the key. Always!
- Warning. All the non-stop stirring is a good arm workout. Be ready!
- Do not go easy on the ghee. Not with this halwa. Trust me the results can be disastrous. You can adjust the sweetness to your taste of course.
- We use yellow split moong daal for this recipe, not to be confused with green moong bean.
- When grinding the soaked moong dal make sure you do not make a smooth paste. The halwa makes and tastes best with danedaar (slightly coarse) moong dal paste.
- Ideally, soak moong dal overnight to make halwa. Split yellow moong takes 4-5 hours to soften. This is enough time to soak. You can also soak it in hot water to speed up the process. Make sure to wash it very well before soaking and once or twice before grinding into a paste.
- Keep the flame low the whole time; the dal can burn very quickly on a high flame.
- Do not use too much water to make the paste, just enough to grind it; I used approximately 4 tbsp.
- Relax and breathe and enjoy the process of making the halwa as much as you enjoy the end product. If it was not for all the elbow grease, the process is quite mediative and a task in mindfulness. At the end of each step, the contents in your pan will gently guide you to move to the next step. As someone wise once said one cooks with all five senses. You will know what I mean when you start to make this halwa 🙂
Pictures To Help You Along The Way
So, we start by giving the soaked moong dal one final wash before we grind it into a coarse paste with a few tablespoons of water as we go. For one cup moong dal, I used approximately 4 tablespoons of water.
Then we heat ghee (one cup melted) in a heavy-bottomed wok. Reduce the flame to low and add the dal paste to it. Now let the arm workout begin! Keep roasting with constant stirring until ghee starts to separate on the sides and the texture is no longer pasty or clumpy. In fact, just before adding the milk and sugar solution, the halwa looks quite crumbly. Below you can see the various stages of roasting the dal:
Have a look at the video of the roasted daal. It is now ready for the milk and sugar solution.
The Finishing Touches
Heave a sigh of relief as you are very close to the end. Well done for all the patience and hard work so far! Also, a pro tip. If you like, you can freeze this mixture at this stage and thaw it later for the subsequent steps. A great make-ahead dessert too, isn’t it?
Now, while the dal is roasting, bring 2.5 cups full-fat milk diluted with half a cup water to boil. Turn off the heat once it’s boiled and add sugar as per taste. I added a little more than one cup of sugar. Mix until well combined. Remove a few tablespoons of hot milk in a bowl and to it add a pinch of saffron (10-12 strands) and keep aside.
When the dal is well roasted as shared in the images above, add the boiling hot milk and sugar mixture to it and continue to cook on a low flame till it starts to clump together and ghee starts to separate from the side. Also, add the saffron milk, cardamom powder, slivered almonds, pistachios, and raisins.
- Split yellow moong daal, soaked for at least 4-5 hours- 1 cup
- Water- 1/2 cup and some extra
- Full fat milk- 2.5 cups
- Sugar- 1 cup or as per taste
- Saffron-One pinch (10-12 strands)
- Ghee, melted- 1 cup
- Cardamom powder- 1/4 teaspoon
- Slivered pistachios- 8-10
- Slivered almonds- 8-10
- Raisins or sultanas- 8-10
- Grind the soaked moong daal into a coarse paste using minimal water
- Heat ghee in a heavy bottomed pan and add the moong daal paste; continue to cook on a low flame, stirring regularly
- Continue cooking till the raw smell of the dal disappears, it turns crumbly and ghee starts to separate
- While the daal is roasting, bring 2.5 cups full fat milk diluted with half cup water to boil; turn off heat once its boiled and add sugar
- Remove a few tablespoons of hot milk in a bowl and to it add a pinch of saffron (10-12 strands) and keep aside
- When the daal is well roasted, add the boiling hot milk and sugar mixture to it and continue to cook on a low flame till it starts to clump together and ghee starts to separate from the side. Also, add the saffron milk, cardamom powder, slivered almonds, pistachios and raisins.
- Serve hot, topped with more slivered almonds and pistachios.