It’s Not Diwali Without My Mom’s Sooji Halwa

published Nov 13, 2020
Sooji Halwa

Sooji halwa is a halwa made with semolina flour, ghee, and sugar that's topped with dried fruit and chopped nuts. It's a cozy and comforting warm dessert.

Serves4 to 5

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Credit: Rachel Gurjar

Sooji halwa, a simple dessert made with semolina flour, ghee, and sugar, is made widely across India for various religious and special occasions. It’s no secret why it’s so popular: it tastes delicious, uses humble ingredients, and can be dressed up in any number of ways depending on whatever is accessible to you (although it’s often topped with dried fruit and chopped nuts).

When I was growing up, my mother always made sooji halwa during Diwali, which is a big celebration for the South Asian community. Everyone dresses up to take part in the festivities, and visits each other’s homes to enjoy an array of sweet and savory snacks. Even after all these years, sooji halwa still holds a special place in my life, and I always make sure it’s part of my Diwali festivities.

Although I threw a big bash last year and attended a few parties around New York City, this year I’m keeping it super laid-back — due to the ongoing pandemic — and hosting an intimate dinner for a few friends. My mother sent me a big Diwali care package all the way from India, with handmade snacks that I’ll serve at the dinner along with a warm bowl of sooji halwa for dessert!

Credit: Rachel Gurjar

The color of this dish depends on your own personal preference of how toasted you like the semolina, which is why you’ll see variations ranging from a light cream to a deep nutty brown or saffron-infused yellow. The most important part is that you stir it continuously when toasting it in the ghee, because much like using the broiler, if you walk away even for a second it will burn (I learned this the hard way).

This dessert also falls into the breakfast category and can be enjoyed as you would a bowl of porridge. It’s cozy and comforting — so really, it’s perfect for any meal you like.

Sooji Halwa

Sooji halwa is a halwa made with semolina flour, ghee, and sugar that's topped with dried fruit and chopped nuts. It's a cozy and comforting warm dessert.

Serves 4 to 5

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 3 cups

    water

  • 1 cup

    granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup

    ghee

  • 1 cup

    sooji (rava or semolina flour)

  • 1/4 cup

    dried, finely shredded (desiccated) unsweetened coconut

  • 1/3 cup

    sliced almonds

  • Fresh edible rose petals, for garnish

    Instructions

    1. Place 3 cups water and 1 cup granulated sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. When the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat.

    2. Heat 1/2 cup ghee in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup sooji and cook, stirring constantly, until deep golden brown, about 18 minutes.

    3. Add the sugar water and cook until the liquid evaporates and the mixture starts resembling a thick cake batter, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with 1/4 cup desiccated coconut, and stir to combine.

    4. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup sliced almonds and garnish with rose petals. Serve immediately.