Halwa or Halvah/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 kind of halwa. And if you are new to this phenomenon called Halwa, let me give you a brief glimpse. 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 travelled 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 much like everything else that comes to them and then adapted the recipe to make halwa out of even vegetables like gourd and pumpkin. Carrot, semolina , moong daal 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 halwa for every occasion and every individual.
The semolina or sooji halwa recipe that I have on the blog is one of the quickest to put together and so is the aatta halwa. Carrot halwa is seasonal in nature but our favourite goto dessert in chilly winter evenings when red carrots are abundantly available. But this Moongdaal 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.
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 and it is also quite calorie heavy . 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 Moongdaal Halwa:
- Do not be in a rush. Remember good things take time and patience is the key. Always!
- Be ready for a good arm workout as loads of nonstop stirring is involved
- Do not go easy on the ghee. Not with this halwa. I made this mistake the first time I ventured into making this halwa and the results were borderline 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 daal make sure you do not make a smooth paste. The halwa makes and tastes best with danedaar ( slightly coarse) moong daal paste
- Ideally overnight soaked moong daal is used to make halwa but split yellow moong takes 4-5 hours to soften so even that time is enough or you can 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 daal 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 the 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 🙂
So, we start by giving the soaked moong daal one final wash before we grind it into a coarse paste with a few tablespoons of water as we go. For one cup moong daal I used approximately 4 tablespoons of water.
Then we heat ghee( one cup melted) in a heavy bottomed wok on and then reduce the flame to low and add the daal paste to it and then starts the arm workout. 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 daal:
Below is a clip of the daal roasted and ready for the milk and sugar solution:
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 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 (I added a little more than one cup sugar) as per taste and 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 daal 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.
Below is a short clip of how the halwa looks once done.Serve hot topped with more slivered almonds and pisatchios:
- 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.