Holi isn't just about being smothered in a myriad different colours. As with all Indian festivals, food is an integral part of the celebrations.
Swati Pareek explains.
Moong Dal Halwa is one of my favourites and an extremely relishing delicacy from North/West India.
This rich dessert is generally present in most Indian celebrations like weddings, and Diwali/Holi. Since it is served warm, rich and on the heavier side, people tend to prepare/relish this dessert especially during winters.
However, I have no qualms about having it year round!
Moong Daal halwa has a very special place in my world of cooking – when I started cooking for the 1st time, this was the first sweet/dessert that I tried. Luckily it was a success first time round.
The key to making a great Moong Daal halwa is patience – it takes a lot of time; you have to be continuously stirring the Daal over a medium flame.
You can store it in the refrigerator for several weeks – just add a little milk to the halwa before reheating it.
- 250 grams of Moong Daal (split yellow lentil)
250 grams of clarified butter (ghee)
250 grams of Khoya (A dairy product widely used in South Asian cuisine, made of either dried whole milk or milk thickened by heating in an open iron pan).
250 grams of sugar
15 - 20 Almonds
15 - 20 Pistachios
3 - 4 whole Cardamoms
A pinch of food colouring (Optional)
Wash the daal and soak in water overnight.
After soaking, grind the daal in a mixer using very little water - the final texture depends on whether you prefer a grainy Halwa or one made with a smooth paste.
Heat the Ghee in a wok. Add the daal and stir continuously; ensure that there are no lumps forming and the daal doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.
Stir and cook continuously till the raw smell is gone and it becomes brown in colour. The daal will take approximately 25 - 30 minutes to cook completely.
A good tip to ensure that it is cooked is when the daal doesn't stick to the frying pan and the ghee can be seen separated from the daal.
Now add the khoya and stir continuously until the khoya and daal are well mixed in and the end product takes on a brown colour.
Add half the almonds and pistachios and let it cool.
Making the Sugar Syrup:
Heat a pan with sugar and 1 cup of water. Mix food colour in 1 tsp of water and add it into the sugar syrup. Cook this sugar syrup till you get 1 thread consistency.
Making 'One Threat' sugar syrup - essential for a host of Indian sweets.
Boil the water and sugar together in a pan, until sugar dissolves and it reaches a rolling boil. Now turn the heat down to keep it boiling gently.
When the sugar is fully dissolved, add 2 tsp of milk to the syrup (the milk causes any impurities to come to surface so that they can be removed) and allow to boil some more.
A scum will form on the surface. Remove this scum by skimming the syrup with a spoon.
Dip a spatula in this syrup; lift it out, and touch it with the tip of your forefinger to pick a drop of the syrup. Be very careful – it can burn your finger! Touch your forefinger with your thumb and pull apart slowly, to see how many threads are stretched between your finger and thumb. When you see one thread it means your one thread sugar syrup is ready!
Let the sugar syrup cool down a little bit and then add the daal and mix it properly. Now add cardamom powder, the remaining almonds and pistachios and mix it well.
Your delicious Moong Daal Halwa is ready to be relished.
You can add more khoya, if you want a richer halwa. Similarly you may add more sugar, if you like more sweetness in the halwa. Sugar syrup and daal mixture both should not be too hot, when you are mixing in the last step; otherwise it will become chewy.