Semolina Halva with Golden Raisins
A popular item on a wedding or banquet menu, I have seen this halva made in enormous bowl-shaped iron pans with two or three pairs steadily stirring the semolina while it plumps to tenderness. With stoves and pans large enough for the job, this dessert can be made from start to finish in one hour –for 300 people. It is best served hot, or at least warm; as the butter cools to room temperature, the consistency firms up and loses its fluffy texture. Served as a dessert, it can be dressed up with a dollop of whipped cream or even a spoonful of custard.
Preparation and cooking time (after assembling ingredients): about 25 minutes
• Water – 2 cups (480 ml)
• Sugar – ¾ cup (160 g)
• Ground Cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon – ¼ teaspoon (1 ml)
• Crushed cardamom seeds – 1 teaspoon (5 ml)
• Saffron threads – ¼ teaspoon (1 ml)
• Strip of orange zest – 3 * ½ -inch (7.5 * 1.5 cm)
• Golden raisins – 1/3 cup (50 g)
• Ghee or unsalted butter – ½ cup (120 ml)
• Fine-grained semolina (pasta flour) – 1 cup (185 g)
• Sliced almonds or chopped Brazil nuts – ¼ cup (40 g)
• Whipped cream – 1 cup (240 ml)
1. Combine the water, sugar, ground spices, cardamom seeds, saffron and orange zest in a heavy 2 –quart/liter saucepan over low heat and, while stirring, dissolve the sugar. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Gently boil for a few minutes, then add the raisins. Strain through sieve and set aside, covered.
2. Heat the ghee or butter in a large nonstick saucepan over moderately low heat. When it is hot, add the semolina and rhythmically stir-fry until the grains swell and darken to a warm golden color, about 10 minutes. (To make white halva, reduce the heat to a very low setting and cook for about ½ hour, stirring now and then until the grains expand, invisibly toast, and slightly color).
3. Stirring steadily, gradually pour syrup into the semolina. At first the grains may sputter, but will quickly cease as the liquid is absorbed. Place the pan over very low heat and, stirring steadily, cook uncovered until the grains absorb the liquid and the texture is fluffy up to 10 minutes. Serve in dessert cups or stemmed glasses, garnished if desired. If necessary, reheat slowly in a double boiler, mashing and stirring to lighten the texture.
6 to 8
By Yamuna Devi Dasi