Sooji Halwa in Berlin, Germany

The first time I made suji ka halwa (semolina dessert) was in Cologne. I found out that N loved it, and broke the cardinal rule of never making desserts (because I have a sweet tooth the size of Africa and very little self control) for the first time. Halwas weren’t something made often in my own home in Karachi, so instead of asking Mother India for the recipe, I turned to YouTube.

I found a recipe by an Indian chef on YouTube, which looked easy and closest to what I had seen in Pakistan. I wrote down the ingredients and went shopping. There was an Indian store close to Neumarkt in Cologne, owned by a Sikh uncle, and I usually got my desi supplies from. He was very sweet, and always helpful. I went in, said hello, and started looking for ingredients. I couldn’t find suji, so I asked him for guidance.

“Ji beta, coarse chaheye ke fine?” (yes dear, do you need coarse or fine semolina?)

Ammmm. I don’t know? I told him that I want to make halwa, and he said you can make halwa with both of them. So, I bought fine semolina, a small can of ghee (clarified butter) and a pack of white sugar, and came back.

Here’s the thing with online recipes and me – first, there is an assumption that the person watching has some idea of what’s going on. Also, sometimes, ingredients mentioned are either unavailable here (in Germany) or in such abundant variety that I wish the YouTuber has mentioned brands used. How do I know which one is better? Or which one works better in this particular case?

Well, if you feel the same way sometimes, high five! I have been making suji ka halwa with different recipes and I think I have found salvation in Food Fusion’s recipe. It is SOOOOO good! So I thought to share the exact ingredients/brands that I use, and tiny swaps to make it more suitable for my palate.

Side note – I switched to Food Fusion from the previous recipe for two reasons. First, it used two pans (one for roasting semolina and the other to make sugar syrup). I realised that it works just fine when all is added into one pan (hence, less dishes to watch). Also, Food Fusion’s ratio of semolina with sugar worked better for me.

It is Food Fusion’s recipe, made with ingredients available in German supermarkets:

Ingredients:

  • Desi ghee ½ cup (solid form). I use 1/4 pack of President’s Feine Butter (gesalzen) instead (bought from Real).
  • Choti elaichi (green cardamom) 3-4 (available at most Pakistani/Indian supermarkets. I bought mine from Spice Village on Tempelhofer Damm).
  • Suji (semolina) ¾ cup. I use TRS Coarse Semolina (available at most Pakistani/Indian supermarkets. I bought mine from Spice Village on Tempelhofer Damm).
  • Cheeni (sugar) 1 & ¼ cup. I use Diamant Rohrzucker in the same quantity (bought from Real).
  • Pani (water) 3 cups.
  • Food color (Zarda ka rang) ½ tsp or as required (available at most Pakistani/Indian supermarkets. I bought mine from Spice Village on Tempelhofer Damm).
  • Kewra essence ½ tsp (available at most Pakistani/Indian supermarkets. I bought mine from Spice Village on Tempelhofer Damm).
  • Dry fruits as required (for garnishing) – I use raisins, coconut flakes, crushed almonds and hazelnut.

Directions:

  • In wok, heat ghee and add green cardamom, sauté for a minute.
  • Add semolina and roast on medium low flame until colour change and fragrant. I set a timer for 10 minutes.
  • Add sugar and give it a good mix.
  • Add water and food color, mix well, cover and cook on medium low flame for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add kewra essence and mix it.
  • Cover and simmer for 1-2 minute.
  • Garnish with dry fruits.

I personally like it once it has settled for a few hours (like 6 hours or so).

What do you love and find it difficult to make in Germany due to lack of ingredients’ availability?