Wednesday, August 17, 2011

August 13, 2011: Halava (breakfast serial part xiii)

Here's a recipe that will be recognised by anyone who's ever frequented a Krishna restaurant - halava, or semolina pudding. I first encountered it as a student visiting Govindas in Brisbane and have long had a recipe for it stored away in Kurma Dasa's Vegetarian World Food. I got to witness its making in a cooking class with Kurma last year and now, finally, I'm trying my own hand at it.

If you've not come by it before this is a fluffy, grain-based pudding studded with dried fruit and often served with custard. While this recipe uses raisins, walnuts and dates I suspect you could try almost anything. Just this morning I saw a fabulous-looking version with pineapple juice, cashews and saffron (wow! saffron!) on Veggie Belly. Kurma also helpfully notes that you can use polenta instead of semolina for a gluten-free version.

I actually had intentions of eating this for breakfast and so reduced the amount of sugar involved by a third. Regardless this remained intensely sweet and dessert-like, and I enjoyed it most with a large mug of hot unsweetened tea. Halawa keeps just fine for ages in the fridge (and might even survive a while at room temperature) but the texture's never quite the same as when it's freshly steamed and stirred - it gets pretty dense as it cools and/or gets packed away for storage.

(slightly adapted from a recipe by Kurma Dasa)

3 1/4 cups water
1 cup sugar (I used 3/4 cup jaggary and 1/4 cup castor sugar)
1/3 cup raisins
grated zest of 2 lemons
180g butter
1 1/2 cups semolina
1/3 cup walnut pieces
3/4 cup dates, chopped

In a medium-large saucepan, stir together the water, sugar, raisins and lemon zest. Bring them to the boil, with a couple of stirs along the way to dissolve the sugar, then turn the heat down to low and cover with a lid.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the semolina and gently roast it in the butter for 20 minutes, stirring regularly for even cooking. Add the walnuts at the 10-minute mark. It should smell great once it's done!

Bring the sugar syrup back to a rolling boil and pour it into the semolina, stirring as you go. (I did this in about 4 doses.) Keep stirring the pudding, letting the grain soak up all the liquid. When it's all absorbed fold in the  dates, cover the saucepan with a lid and take it off the heat. Allow the pudding to steam like this for about 10 minutes. Then fluff up the grains a bit with a spoon and serve it out. Serve a little less than you expect - it's surprisingly rich and if you want to, you can always go back for seconds.


  1. I use saffron when I make it. It doesn't require much, a big batch requires only 10 stamens. You put them in the water and the water turns golden.

    It also works quite well with nuttelex instead of butter.

  2. Oh. My. Excited. Pants. How have I never had this before? As someone who has oatbran 'most every morning topped with chocolate and peanut butter, I know I will adore this. Bring it on.

  3. I have only had this once or twice but was pleasantly surprised - will have to try it myself

  4. Thanks for those tips, Danni! I had been wondering about how best to make a vegan version. Can't wait to try out some saffron too. :-)

    Hannah, I'm pretty sure you will dig this, and think of all sorts of goodies to stir into it!

    Johanna, you might even consider trying the Veggie Belly version I linked to - it looks like having a shorter prep time.