Why does it happen that every time I think about going on a no sugar diet, I end up eating loads of it? Like last week I had decided to go no sugar for one week to start with. You know what they say about keeping short goals and all.
So for a whole week, from Monday to Friday, I didn’t have any form of refined sugar at all. None in tea, coffee etc. And it was all going very well. I did in fact, say no to my colleague when she brought in some cakes for her birthday. I am not a cake person but that was Chocolate by death for Christ’s sake! 🙁
Anyway, so I avoided that. THAT! And then the God played another card and bam! I am suddenly craving to have some Halwa. And I felt like I would faint if I don’t have it then and there. (I am obviously exaggerating, but do you ever feel like that?)
I had to make it at the end. A good Sooji halwa never fails to cheer me up. Even if it has just crashed my diet and my hopes to lose some inches from my belly.
So this one is the simplest version of Sooji halwa or rava sheera as it is called in western India and rava kesari as known as in the southern parts. The method of preparation is more or less similar, with the the other ingredients being changed here and there, keeping rava/sooji (semolina) the key ingredient.
Some people add milk + water and some just add water. In my Mum’s kitchen, it was always the later especially during the Ram navmi Kanjak Pooja when its served with kala chana and poori. I do like both the versions though and this recipe today, has milk in it. so its not vegan in any way. But you can skip the milk altogether and only add 2 cups of water instead.
The rava kesari that is popular in south India, usually has orange synthetic color added to it, especially when you are eating out on shops/restaurants. I havent used any synthetics in the making of this halwa, hence the plain natural colour. Addition of saffron does bring in some yellow/orange shades to the halwa but it still wouldn’t be the bright red/orange we see out. Click to see more South Indian recipes.
Sooji halwa is often made for an auspicious occasion or a Pooja during festivals like Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Pongal etc. If you are making rava sheera for any religious occasions, you could add a pinch of edible camphor in it.
I have a fixed proportion to prepare this easy Sooji halwa as semolina / sugar / water / ghee in 1 : 1 : 2 : ½ . This proportion never fails me and I always get the best of halwa as I like it. Although to be honest if I am preparing it just for us two, I do reduce sugar a little bit and keep it about ¾ cup or less since I don’t like my halwa too sweet.
So go ahead, break you diet for a day and make this easy fool proof Sooji halwa for dessert. You could serve this with masala poori like Methi ki poori or bedmi poori. Or maybe along with some simple Aloo sabzi or simply serve as a dessert after meals. It also serves as a great Travel food since it thickens up in no time and doesnt drip if you carry it in a sandwich bag or even an air tight tiffin box.
Sooji ka halwa | Rava sheera/kesari
- 1 cup sooji/rava fine semolina
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup ghee
- 4-5 tsp cardamom pods crushed or ½ cardamom powder
- 8-10 cashews halved
- 1½ cup water
- ½ cup milk
Heat the ghee in a heavy bottomed pan/wok. Turn to low and add the cashew halves to it. Roast for a few seconds and when they start turning light brown, remove them draining any extra ghee and keep aside in a bowl
In the same pan, add the semolina. Keeping the gas at low settings, roast semolina for about 8-10 minutes till it starts turning light pink and you can smell a nice aroma coming out. Keep stirring the sooji in between.
While the rava is getting roasted, mix water and milk in a pan and heat it a bit. Not boiling, but just hot. Keep aside.
When the sooji gets roasted properly- turn the gas at medium and add this milk + water combo to it stirring vigorously. Be careful as this mixture has the tendency to splutter. Once it settles down, turn the gas to low again, cover the pan and let it simmer for 5-7 minutes. This will make the semolina swell a bit.
Next, open the lid and add the sugar. Mix well. The mixture will start loosening up again while the sugar dissolves itself. Cover and cook for a further of 4-5 minutes. Stir once or twice in between.
Add the cardamom powder or pounded pods now and mix. Finally, when the halwa starts leaving the sides of the pan and kind of moves along with your ladle it means it is ready. Turn off the gas now, garnish with cashews and enjoy this delicious treat.
You could skip the milk completely and add only 2 cups of water to make this halwa
If you want to make this Sooji halwa vegan- use coconut oil instead of ghee.
You could add some saffron into a tbsp. of milk and add it towards the end of the cooking along with the cardamom.
Feel free to use any nuts like raisins (kishmish), chironji etc.
Some more Indian desserts you might like: