A festive essential in India, especially during the fall and the impending winters, this rich moong dal halwa (husked green lentil) redolent from the desi ghee and almonds will surely remind you of your fondest childhood memories. Bonus: Needs only 8 ingredients (including garnish) and just about 45 mins!
Diwali is almost here. How can you tell if you are not keeping count of the days? Well, almost everyone I know is shopping, me included!! We are shopping ethnic clothes for Diwali, gifts for friends and family and of course shopping for home. Which is probably my favorite kinda shopping. I am getting new white sheer curtains with gorgeous damask prints, a couple of gorgeous designer platters and tumblers to serve the guest, a fun ceramic pot for the latest blood red anthurium now proudly sitting in my living room and finally a super gorgeous hand knotted woolen kilim!! (I had been lusting after one for ages, finally loosening up the purse strings to splurge on that!).
The moment you go out you will witness a sea of clay diyas popping up on the road sides like brown mushrooms! The streets are high on some elusive energy that makes even the weary laborer come alive at the end of a long day and smile. The fruits have been gently nudged aside in favor of colorful rangoli powders piled high in huge woven baskets, and you can find cheap plastic garlands in every shape and color you wish for stringed up high and shining under the harsh yellow lights. The stores of the city are decked up as lavishly as a new bride, glittering with their best. Not to be left behind in this mad case of Diwali fervor, the jewelery shops are busy enchanting people with their latest “Divyam” collections. And of course, there is the reel life to get your cue from too. Every second ad will spell the word Diwali or sale or festival. Every second ad will try to show a meaningful side to Diwali, and a few will gently urge you to rethink the way you have been celebrating Diwali till now..and may be , think about Mother Earth and go noiseless for once.
And if you still blindly choose to ignore all these not so subtle signs, I am sure you will NOT be able to miss the sudden plethora of enticing sweets your friendly neighborhood store started stacking!! Not to mention us bloggers flooding the news feed with such lusciousness 😉
This is also invariably the time I give into the latent halwai in me and try to get the gumption to make some Indian mithai. I am not saying mithais are terribly hard to make or take forever. Its just that I am not too much of a sweets person and when I do feel the urge, I would rather just eat my favorite Hershey or Lindt or heck even my trusty Crackle as it is. Thank you very much. But then Diwali’s sensuous addictive catcall is hard to ignore. As are the suggestive “mummy used to make this” of P or D’s declaration that she wants only my haath ka Butterscotch Rabri!!! I mean come on..thats just not playing fair. I can fight the world, but these two…. Ah well. I gave in. I tried not to think of the amount of weight (read : insulation) I will be piling on in the next three months and then quietly and simply proceeded to make this.
This Moong dal halwa.
“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” – Laurie Collins.
True to that sentiment I found myself in the company of my MIL and granny(Ma) as used to call her while making this. With my MIL’s voice guiding me through it, I knew I would have no problem. Its a real easy and much quicker version of the halwa. I took 45 mins from scratch. I have heard of some halwas which take 2 hrs!!! Although if you do want to indulge in a slow cooker festive dessert, I would seriously suggest giving my granny’s Rice Pudding or Kheer a shot. It takes 2 hrs but is beyond amazing. Its a must for every occasion at my home, and I have always, always been asked for second and third servings.
Enjoy this ubiquitous, simple halwa that I know will leave you reminiscing about those fogged up winter evenings, listening to granny’s stories huddled with cousins on a charpayi (rope bed) under the family mango tree, a starlit sky with half a moon shining, cups of steaming adrak wali chai in one hand, a few shared mathris/crackers being passed around and bowlfuls of this sweet, rich fudge-y lentil halwa being slowly relished. And of you,smiling.
Spreading only happiness and happy memories all around. That is the essence of Diwali to me. Hope you make your share of beautiful,happy memories that will keep you warm in the darkest of days.
- ½ cup husked green lentil (moong ki dal) - pre-soaked in water 5-6 hours
- ½ cup ghee or clarified butter.
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ cup milk
- 1 cup water
- ½ tsp powdered chhoti elaichi
- 4 Tbsp slivered and roasted almonds, raisins handful if desired.
- Wash dal and grind coarsely in a food processor or mixer.
- Mix the milk and water in a saucepan and heat it.
- Add the sugar to the mixture, bring to a boil, make sure the sugar is dissolved and keep hot till needed.
- In a heavy kadahi, or copper bottomed degchi, mix ghee and dal, and stir fry over low heat till fried well. Make sure you keep stirring the mixture so that it doesn't stick.
- Add milk mixture to the fried dal and stir well to mix together.
- Cook over low heat till the liquid is absorbed.
- Keep cooking or stir-fry till the fat separates. You can literally see the ghee at the sides of the dal.
- Mix in the cardamom powder and half the almonds.
- Transfer on to a serving dish, decorate the Moong Dal Halwa with the rest of the almonds,raisins, add a small piece of varq and serve hot.
- Goes really well with a side of chai and masala mathri. Or even with some vanilla ice cream.