In one of her episodes in Nigella Bites, she shows how the mamma bear makes a comforting dinner for her and two cubs; wherein she poured milk over some pieces of stale bread and sugar… Though I love adore and worship her in my kitchen, but I couldn’t help smirking that this was a comforting dish for mamma bear, (involves no cooking at all), but the cubs.. Would they enjoy it as much??
I don’t think anyone can appreciate the texture-less soggy bread and milk. It’s easy to make. Yup!! But what about flavours??
For me, my comfort dish has to be the infamous sooji ka halwa or sheera, or semolina porridge. Infamous for all the calories it tends to put on your body in form of fats that will never be used. But, nonetheless, if you can enjoy a buttery piece of croissant or a sugary piece of creamy pastry, then definitely you can enjoy a katori (bowl in Hindi) of this lovely halwa. I have worked on the calories and tried to keep it to the minimum most. But remember, it is a dessert and it is wonderful to taste buds!!
- ¼ cup oil
- ¾ cup Semolina/sooji/raava
- ½ cup sugar
- A pinch of saffron
- ¾ cup milk
- 6 pods of cardamom, a bit punctured to release the flavours but not the seeds.
- A handful of your favourite assortment of nuts; I used almonds and walnuts roughly chopped
- 1 tsp of ghee/ clarified butter to end it with a subtle flavour (optional)
- A pinch of salt
In a pan with high sides, mix in the milk, saffron, cardamom and sugar. After stirring briefly for 30 seconds to give saffron a head start in getting dissolved in the milk, put it on a low –low flame and let it heat gently.
In another pan with high sides or a wok, pour in the oil and let it heat up slightly.
Now fry the chopped nuts (saving some for garnish later on) in the oil for about 30 seconds or so, till it gets a bit of colour.
Pour the sooji/semolina in the oil with nuts, while you constantly stir it around. Its very important to keep the flame on medium to medium low as semolina has a tendency to catch and burn easily. A wire whisk would be the perfect tool to stir the porridge around.
Once the semolina is fragrant and light brown in colour, carefully pour in the hot milk & sugar mix. Please note, the sooji is gonna bubble to madness when you add in the milk, so a careful approach would be to take it off heat, mixing the milk & sugar all in, and then putting it back on heat.
On the medium flame, keep stirring the porridge around till the liquid kinda evaporates and porridge forms a bowl in the centre of the pan/wok.
Keep cooking it till you see the oil separating from the porridge. At this time add in the teaspoon of ghee and stir well to combine. Let it off the heat and serve in a pretty dish garnished with the remaining chopped nuts. Cheers!!
P.S.: Traditionally, the halwa is made in ghee or clarified butter and the liquid added is always water. Obviously, the flavour of the ghee and sooji is mind-blowing and the porridge tastes amazing. Having said so, this way of adding this small amount at the end and heating it through also gives off a great flavour profile, while you lessen the calories and fat substantially. Adding milk enriches its flavour and somehow suits the saffron more than water. I have always felt saffron is better coupled with warm milk rather than warm water. But to each, his own
If you guys try my recipe than do let us know about it and how it went; here: https://www.facebook.com/zouqh.thetaste