Pineapple Sooji (semolina) Halwa.
“Mom, mooooommm ,what are you making?”, cries my daughter as she flings her school bag on the sofa and rushes into the kitchen where I am busy preparing snacks for my energetic children who are always agog to know what new snack I have up my sleeve or rather on the platter. “Wooow you are making my favourite sweet dish!!” squeals my daughter out of sheer joy. My son too joins in and says “It’s my favourite too you know”. I smile fondly at them and gently shoo them to the living room while I commence the preparation of their favourite dish, rather our favourite family sweet dish Pineapple Sooji Halwa. In a matter few minutes the kitchen is full of varied aromas gently wafting to every corner of the house, and my children’s intermittent oohs and ahhs from the living room are audible whenever a whiff of the roasted semolina, or the clarified butter happen to cruise past their nostrils or of the freshly chopped pineapple sizzling away merrily in the clarified butter, of the nuts being fried to a beautiful golden brown colour. With their tickled taste buds doing a skip and dance my children are all ready to relish the dish.
Predominantly a delicacy of the South, this dish has now gained popularity all over India, mainly for its simplicity and its divine taste. This dish enjoys many names i.e. Rawa kesari in Tamilnadu, Kesari bath in Karntaka, Sheera in Maharashtra and so on. Each household cooks it in a style lending it an individual touch of its own; for instance some add milk instead of water while some people add both. Oh yes, this dish is an all time favourite in our country and is prepared during festivals and religious or casual occasions. .
When it comes to making this sweet dish or any dessert which specifies a generous amount of clarified butter I never in any way compromise on it as it enhances the taste and brings out the authenticity of the dish prepared, but health conscious people can reduce the quantity of ghee though I would rather one didn’t as the base of this sweet rests on the generous amount of ghee used for it to taste good and at the same time elongate its longevity. While some add synthetic colouring while preparing this dish I prefer using natural colouring agent, Saffron that gives a yellowish orange colour to the halwa. This halwa can be prepared in bulk and can be stored for about two weeks in an air tight container, if cooked well using adequate proportion of ghee thus increasing its longevity when refrigerated. I can vouch for it as I have tried and tested it even to the extent of deep freezing it (even for a month) in batches and as and when required taking out each batch, to microwave or reheat on the stove before serving.
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Now that we have gathered adequate information of this entrancing dish ready to take a look at the recipe? Here goes
Time: 25 minutes.
1 ½ cup, Sooji* (Roasted in ¼ cup of Ghee*)
¾ cup, pineapple, finely chopped
¾ cup, sugar (can be adjusted according to your taste)
¾ cup, Ghee
3&1/2 Cups, water
½ Cup Pineapple Juice (I used fresh pineapple juice, in case not available you can use canned juice instead but be alert about the quantity of sugar while preparing the halwa.)
A generous pinch of Saffron
2 teaspoons, of Cardamom powder
¼ cup, Cashew nuts and raisins fried in 2tbsp of ghee
Slivered nuts to garnish.
In a heavy bottomed pan/kadhai, heat ¾ cup of Ghee.
Add the chopped pineapple and sauté on high flame for a minute.
Add pineapple juice and cook on high for another minute.
Add Saffron and sugar and cook until sugar melts completely. Cover the pan with a lid and let the ingredients simmer on low flame for about 6-7 minutes until the pineapple pieces become soft and the sauce thickens.
On high flame add water and bring it a boil. Add Sooji stirring continuously to avoid any lumps. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes until the Sooji is cooked well.
Add Cardamom powder, fried nuts and raisins. Mix well and cook for a minute, till the ghee starts to ooze out. Garnish with slivered Nuts.
Note: The English names for these ingredients:
Ghee*- Clarified butter.