In India the summer doesn’t bring strawberries but mangos. Once the heat starts to become unbearable you suddenly see sticky, yellow mangos piling up on the the wooden carts of the fruit sellers. The ripe mango isn’t a fruit which offers any refreshment, instead it’s honeysweet juice will run down your chin and leave you in an ecstatic state of pleasure which will make you forget the heat for a moment. The mango is the indian fruit per se and her heavy sweetness perfectly matches the flavours of the indian sweets which taste of milk, ghee, cardamom, saffron, rose and coconut and also do not have any fresh accent.
One of the sweets which you can find in most Indian states as well as in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Iran and even some East European countries is Sooji ka Halva – a thick, sweet semolina paste made with a good measure of ghee and cardamom. Sometimes it’s eaten already for breakfast together with paratha or some other dishes (for a contrast of sweet/salty) or it’s nice to enjoy a little bowl full in between to sweeten up your day.
Meanwhile I’m a big fan of sooji ka halva, but most of the time it’s a bit sweet for my taste and I prepare mine with lots of mango, nuts and saffron and less sugar. But do not skimp on the ghee (or coconut oil if you want to keep it vegan), it’s essential for it’s rich flavour and mouthfeel.
Mango Saffron Halwa
A rich Indian sweet loaded with mango, saffron and nuts. Best eaten slightly warm.
- 80 gram semolina
- 4 tablespoons ghee (or butter or coconut oil)
- 250 ml mango puree
- 250 ml water
- 1/2 teaspoon saffron
- 1/4 teaspoon cardamon
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 - 3 tablespoon sugar (or honey), per taste
- 2 tablespoon raisins (optional)
- 2 tablespoons cashew nuts (or almonds)
Mix the mango puree with the water and saffron and keep it aside. Put one tablespoon of the ghee in a pot or pan and melt it on medium heat, now add the semolina and roast it till it slightly changes it's colour and starts to smell aromatically (about 5 min).
Reduce the heat to the lowest setting and slowly add the mango/saffron mixture while stirring vigorously with a whisk or spoon. At this point you have to make sure that no clumps are forming. Add the sugar (or honey), raisins (if using) and continue stirring till the mixture has cooked into a thick paste. Now add the cardamon and take of the heat. It will thicken further upon cooling.
Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of ghee to a pan, melt on medium heat and roast the cashews till they are slightly brown.
Mix the melted ghee and nuts into the the semolina paste and fill into small bowls. You have to butter the bowls beforhand if you want to turn them out upside down.
You can make mango puree from fresh mangoes or used tinned alphonoso mango pulp, which every asian store should carry, but make sure there is no sugar added. You can also simply use mango juice and it also tastes nice with pineapple juice or orange juice and -zest.
You need to use fine semolina flour which has the texture of medium fine sand. You should get it in any whole foods market or in Indian shops where it is called suji, soji or sooji.
If you want to use no or less saffron you can increase the amount of cardamon.