Updated: May 13
Suji halwa is a warm Indian dessert flavored with cardamom and almonds. I introduced it to my friends in college, and it became a tradition to make massive servings late at night and eat it together in the communal kitchen right out of the pan.
Suji halwa only takes 5-10 minutes to prepare, making it one of my favorites for dinner parties or unexpected guests. When buying semolina (which is now available in all big supermarkets), be sure to purchase the fine grain flour because it produces a better consistency for the dessert. I recommend measuring out all the ingredients beforehand because the cooking process is very quick.
•fine semolina flour
Melt a tablespoon of butter on medium heat in a saucepan. Measure one cup of fine semolina flour and add it to the pan. Cook away the floury taste of the semolina for about 90 seconds; be sure to whisk the butter and semolina well so nothing burns.
Slowly add 1/4 cup of milk to semolina mixture and whisk rigorously (like when making a roux). The semolina will thicken almost immediately, so continue to slowly add milk till the consistency is thick like porridge. Add 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder and a handful of slivered almonds. Mix everything together till the halwa holds its shape, but isn't dry. Remove from the heat.
Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with extra almonds and serve with tea and biscuits.
A note on food coloring: my mother normally adds a bit of yellow food coloring because Indian halwa normally contains saffron, turning the Indian version characteristically yellow. The Mauritian's changed the flavors in their adaptation and removed the saffron. However, Mauritian cooks still want their halwa to look like the Indian counterpart so they compensate with some natural food coloring. Personally, I don't use food coloring, but this is an entirely aesthetic choice. Food for thought.