Navarathri Special Day 5: An utterly delectable, crumbly and melt-in-the-mouth Moong Dal Halwa!
A ‘halwa’ is a traditional sweet pudding, made with ghee (clarified butter), and garnished with a mixture of fried nuts. It may not may not require additional flavouring, in the form of essence, extract and juices. Halwas can be made from a variety of base ingredients: from flour (maida, atta, custard powder), from lentils/legumes/millets (moong dal, chana dal, ragi/finger millets), from oats, fruits (mixed fruits, apple, banana, pineapple), and even vegetables (carrot, beetroot, ash gourd, pumpkin, lauki, sweet potato etc.)
Moong dal, or split green gram whose skin has been removed and polished, lends itself beautifully to one of the really simple, utterly smooth and delicious halwas. This is a breeze to make if you have everything on hand. Just make sure you never step away from the kadai ! Use a non-stick pan, preferably, so that the halwa does not stick to the bottom of the pan. Read on for the recipe!
- Moong dal – 1 cup
- Ghee – 1/2 cup + 1/2 cup
- Saffron – few strands, soaked in 2 tsp of warm milk
- Milk – 1 cup
- Sugar – 3/4 cup
- 1 tsp of mixed nuts like almonds and pistachios, chopped finely, for garnish.
- Soak the moong dal for about 4 hours.
- Drain the water, and transfer to a mixer jar. Grind coarsely without any water preferably (use about 1-2 tsp if necessary)
- Heat kadai until hot, on medium flame. Add 1/2 cup of ghee to the kadai once hot. Lower flame to med-low.
- Add the moong dal mixture to this ghee, and fry nicely for about 5-7 minutes on a medium-low flame until the mixture turns crumbly and the colour deepens to golden yellow. Check if the raw smell of ground moong dal is gone, and you get a nice roasted aroma.
- Add the sugar, give it one mix.
- Add the milk and saffron milk, and mix well to incorporate evenly
- Keep mixing using your spatula, until the mixture starts cooking and coming together
- Add the other 1/2 cup ghee at this stage and mix well
- Keep mixing for about 3-4 minutes, you will see the consistency changing and the halwa thickening, with the oil leaving the sides of the kadai
- Once the halwa has thickened and left sides of the vessel, switch off the stove.
- Garnish with mixed nuts and serve warm.
TIPS & TWEAKS
- The colour of your halwa largely depends on how much you fry your ground moong dal mixture in ghee, at the beginning. The more you roast it in ghee, the deeper colour the moong dal gets. I stopped when it was roasted well, but just slightly golden. However, if you continue roasting, the cooler will progress from a golden yellow to a golden brown, and then a rich caramel colour. So the end result depends on how well you do the firsts stage 🙂
- Do NOT skimp on the ghee – for one, it coats the pan and keeps the moong dal from sticking to the bottom. Two, it really adds a robust flavour and cooks the moong dal well. If the moong dal is not well roasted in enough ghee, you will definitely get the raw smell in your final halwa.
- Some people say that you can fry the soaked & drained moong dal in ghee, and then grind it to a mixture. Apparently this reduces cooking time (although I haven’t tried it myself yet).
- Saffron lends enough colour and aroma to this dish; I used saffron powder (one of my relatives gets us every year from Switzerland) diluted in milk. You can use saffron strands soaked in warm milk, this will release colour as well.
DH was absolutely adorable today in that he shot all the pictures, while I did the cooking and staging 🙂 Try this recipe and let us know what you thought!!