Traditionally, this halva would be made on holy days as a prasad, an offering to the gods, which once blessed we would eat. It is a really quick-to-make pudding in a world where desserts can take hours or even a day. I remember as children we used to love watching Wimbledon and would always watch the finals at our cousins on the Sunday. It was often the case that we would support opposing players and the atmosphere would get really competitive. There was always a crescendo of noise and tension as the match came to the end; feathers would be ruffled and egos bruised. My aunt (or mother, I can’t remember) would bring out this halva and we would bury our differences in this delicious, humble but comforting pudding. It is simple but we all love it. This is based on my mother recipe and the gram flour is a secret, really delicious, addition. Anjum Anand, Anjum's Australian Spice Stories
This halva isn’t sexy or pretty but it is delicious and a favourite.
- 200 ml hot water
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 50 g semolina (see Note)
- 1 heaped tbsp gram flour
- 45 g sugar, or to taste
- 15 g roasted cashew nuts
- pinch of saffron strands
- small handful raisins or sultanas
- small pinch ground green cardamom
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Add the saffron to the hot water and leave to infuse.
Melt 1½ tablespoons of the ghee in a small saucepan over medium heat, add the semolina and stir for 6-7 minutes or until it is a medium golden colour. Add the gram flour and stir for another 2-3 minutes or until it is well roasted and has darkened a little more. It should be quite deeply golden.
Add the sugar, cashews and sultanas and stir for 30 seconds or so. Add the saffron water and cardamom and cook for a few more minutes or until it all comes together and leaves the sides of the pan. Add the remaining ghee, remove from the heat and serve hot or warm.
• Ideally, use medium grain semolina rather than the coarse or very fine semolina that is also available.
• You can spruce the halva up (if you double the recipe) by spooning the pudding into a small cake tin and allowing it to set. Cut into squares or diamonds and serve with some plain or spiced ice cream. We usually eat this in small bowls, but you can double the quantities for larger portions