Sooji halva is the simplest and quickest to make of all the halvas made in India, where there are over 20-30 different types of halvas made.
Halva can be made for breakfast, afternoon tea and for unexpected guests at any other time. It is the halva that is made on special occasions and at various poojas (Hindu prayers). Our mother always made it on out birthdays and served in the form of a cake. This was before the days of ovens in every house and bakeries in every little town in India.
When making it for babies and small children, reduce ghee and sugar and do not add nuts and raisins.
In India, it is often spelt as Halwa, but pronounced as Halva.
Edited and pictures changed July 2018
250 gm. medium-coarse semolina or sooji*. You can make it with 200gm. semolina and 50gm. chapatti flour mix
150-200 gm. ghee
500 ml. boiling water
A few strands of saffron (optional)
150 gm. sugar (Adjust according to taste)
50 gm. almonds/cashew nuts, blanched or chopped
1 tbsp. raisins. You can use dry redcurrants or blue berries instead-(optional).
1/2 tsp. green cardamom powder (optional)
* You can use fine semolina, but medium coarse gives better texture.
You can also add freshly shaved dry coconut, as shown in second picture.
Place sugar and saffron in a pan and add measured hot water. Keep aside.
Measure all other ingredients and keep aside, separately.
Heat ghee in a deep frying pan or karahi. It bubbles and splatters during cooking, so shallow pan is not the best pan to cook it in.
Add semolina and fry on medium heat, until it turns golden pink in colour and it gives out a distinctive aroma of roasting semolina. If you make your halva with a lot of ghee, the ghee should begin to separate from the semolina at the edges.
Add sugared water with saffron. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently. Wear oven gloves or wrap a kitchen towel around your hand while stirring, because bubbling semolina splashes all over and may scald your hand.
When the mix becomes thick and begins to come off the pan, nearly ready, add 3/4th of the nuts, cardamom powder, mix and take it out in a serving bowl.
Garnish with remaining 1/3rd nuts.
Leftover halva can be kept in a fridge or freezer. Before serving, it should be defrosted and refreshed by adding a little boiling water and cooking again in a pan. Alternatively, it can be heated in a microwave, on full, for 1 minute per portion, approximately.