At the food bazaars across India and Pakistan social classes are levelled. Here amongst the vast open-air food hustlers, men sit cheek by jowl fuelling on food from the bazaar, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It's a place where social fripperies are cast aside in favour of one thing only … the search for the tastiest khana (food). Large-scale hotplates hiss and blister under the street cooks’ commands, doubling up as communal dining tables, where people stand or sit with other diners scoffing Indian fast food. Cooks belt out their menus above the din of traffic, cajoling hungry customers to eat at their hotplate. ‘Aja nashtar!’ (Come, breakfast is ready!) Suits, flowing salwar kameez, short-sleeved shirts, T-shirts and oil stained overalls join the convocation of young and old to devour halwa poori (sweetened semolina and light fried flatbread),
To every story, there are always two sides. It’s the same with this semolina recipe. Some might think of school dinners from a bygone era, but this dish couldn’t be further from those institutional stodge mountains. It has two sides, because whilst it’s graced with pistachios, almonds and sultanas – all power packed and healthy – it fraternises with its naughtier cousins sugar, cream and butter. But hey, it’s not like this dish is likely to replace your granola and yoghurt breakfast. It’s an indulgence that makes life taste just a little sweeter, especially with soft poori in the palm.
How To Make Halwa
Serves up to 6
- 150g medium-coarse semolina
- 200ml double cream or buttermilk
- 1 tbsp sultanas
- 150g sugar
- 500ml water
- 250g butter
- 50g mixed flaked almonds and lightly crushed pistachios, for dusting
In a large bowl mix the semolina, cream and sultanas, and leave to stand for an hour. Over a low heat, mix the sugar and water, stirring gently until the sugar has dissolved and the water has become syrupy.
In a deep pan, heat the butter until it froths, but don’t burn it. Add the semolina and cook for around 4–6 minutes, stirring continuously as you don’t want it to get lumpy. Pour in the sugar syrup and cook for a further 5 minutes, continuing to stir until the semolina has soaked up the golden butter and is gorgeously tanned. Take it off the heat and dust with the mixed nuts. Eat hot, either with a poori or on its own with a big spoon.
To learn how to make Pooris, click here.