Kesar (saffron)-mango halwa. A Diwali special!

Diwali, the festival of lights is one of the major holidays celebrated by Hindus worldwide and starts in a couple of days. The festival spans across 5 days and symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. The lighting of the traditional earthen oil lamps and lanterns is symbolic of dispelling the darkness (metaphorically and literally), by illuminating every corner of one’s home. Elaborate rangolis adorn verandahs and courtyards, while home-made paper lanterns in spectacular colors dot rural and urban landscapes, gently swaying in the breeze, as children and adults alike light the ubiquitous firecrackers that are such an integral part of how this colorful festival is celebrated in India.

Saffron-mango halwa. © Copyright, November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Saffron-mango halwa.
© Copyright, November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Nostalgia lane: I have vivid memories of my grandmother and mother “cooking up a storm” in the weeks leading up to the festival, as they prepared scrumptious sweets and savory snacks to share with family, friends and neighbors on this holiday. The most divine aromas wafted down hallways as cinnamon, nutmeg and saffron were sprinkled into traditional Indian sweets, and sandalwood was combined with whole turmeric to create a fragrant home-made paste that was applied to the face before the traditional oil bath, and before dressing in your “Sunday best”.

© Copyright, November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

© Copyright, November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

On this auspicious occasion, I would like to post a recipe that is fitting, I hope, for this occasion. The featured saffron-mango recipe is called a “halwa”. Somewhat similar to a pudding, halwa is a traditional Indian dessert often made by cooking carrots (carrot halwa) or semolina (suji halwa) with sugar, milk and fragrant spices. The featured recipe adds a festive touch to the traditional semolina halwa by blending the aromatic and luscious mango pulp and saffron strands with the semolina and milk base, to create a virtual “melt in your mouth” dessert.

© Copyright, November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

© Copyright, November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

No of servings: 3, ½ cup servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coarse rava (semolina)
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp alfonso mango pulp, canned (available in Indian groceries)
  • a few strands of saffron
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
  • slivered almonds 3-5, and/or cashew halves for garnish
  • Dried cranberries for garnish (optional)

Method:

  • Heat the oil in a small, thick bottomed pan.
  • Add rava to the pan and sauté on low heat for a few minutes, stirring constantly until the faint aroma of roasted rava begins to emanate from the pan.
  • Watch for signs of burning and adjust heat accordingly. In the meantime, heat the ½ cup of milk in a microwave. (Please note that you need a 1:1 proportion of rava and milk, so I used a ½ cup of milk using the same solid measuring cup as the one used to measure the rava)
  • Heat on high power for about 90 seconds or more if need be, until the milk is steaming hot.
  • Stir in the saffron strands.
  • Add the hot milk with saffron to the rava in pan, stirring rapidly on low heat to allow to blend and being careful to ensure that the rava does not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • At this time, the rava should lose it’s grainy and raw texture. (Figure 1)
After adding milk, the semolina should lose it's raw texture. © Copyright, November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Figure 1: After adding milk, the semolina (rava) should lose it’s raw texture. © Copyright, November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

  • Remove from the stove and gently mix in the 2 tbsp of mango pulp until thoroughly blended and the mixture takes on a golden- yellow hue.
  • Return the saucepan to the stove top and stir in the sugar on low heat until blended. The halwa will begin to look smooth by now. (Figure 2).
After adding sugar, the halwa should look smooth as shown here. © Copyright, November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Figure 2: After adding sugar, the halwa should look smooth as shown here. © Copyright, November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

  • Using a grater, grate a pinch of fresh nutmeg directly into the pan.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Serve warm or cold garnished with slivered almonds or cashew halves and dried cranberries.
A Happy Diwali and Happy Holidays to all! © Copyright, November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

A Happy Diwali and Happy Holidays to all! © Copyright, November 2015, Sangeeta Pradhan, RD, LDN, CDE.

Chef’s tip: Please note that it is very important that the milk is steaming hot when added to the roasted rava, otherwise some grains will remain raw. Likewise, make sure that the milk has been completely absorbed by the rava before adding the mango pulp as the hot milk may curdle if it comes in contact with the mango pulp. Also, remove from heat before adding the fruit pulp.

Registered Dietitian’s tip: Like all traditional holiday desserts, the original version of this dessert is laden with ghee, sugar and whole milk. I have reduced the sugar by at least ½, using a small amount of the mango pulp to offset the reduction in sugar, switched to peanut oil rich in mono unsaturated fats instead of ghee, and used fat-free milk instead of whole milk to reduce the overall caloric density without reducing taste. A very Happy Diwali and a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year to all my fellow bloggers and readers!!

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is strictly for informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor or Registered Dietitian for recommendations tailored to your unique needs.

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About Sangeeta Pradhan RD, CDE

Hi there! Welcome to my blog! If you are confused with all the conflicting messages you get bombarded with every day on carbs, fats, proteins, gluten and anything you can think of related to nutrition, look no further! The purpose of my blog is to cut through all this clutter, utilizing scientific, evidence based guidelines to help you, the consumer, navigate the complex, dietary landscape, and thus empower you to make informed decisions.
This entry was posted in Desserts, Get cooking and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Kesar (saffron)-mango halwa. A Diwali special!

  1. Ma’am in the “share” list can you pls add option for email too? It’s useful for sharing the post with those not on FB, Twitter, etc. Thank you for a lovely recipe and your great posts. Pranaam

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Kamalji. My blog is relatively new and I have been thinking of adding more options. Your suggestion is excellent, really appreciate it. Will work on it and let you know. Namaste:)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How nice. Its a lovely blog . so useful to us. Many thanks for sharing your delicious recipes and knowledge 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The pleasure is mine. If readers and fellow bloggers find the content of my blog helpful, then it has served it’s purpose:). Namaste and Happy Diwali to you and your family!

    Like

  5. Sheryl says:

    I enjoyed learning about the Diwali festival and some of the foods that are typically eaten during it. The halwa looks wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you, Sheryl. Love the feedback. BTW, the halwa takes only about 15 minutes to prepare, forgot to mention that on the post. Happy Holidays:))

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thanks for your likes of my various blogs. I always enjoy reading yours, with its wonderful recipes. Today it is especially heartwarming to read of the Hindu holiday, Diwali, which celebrates the triumph of good over evil…something we all endorse!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you, Mary. I love visiting your blog too and reading your posts:). Yes, we all need the reminder that eventually good will prevail, and to have unflinching faith in that belief, don’t we? Warm regards:)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Leyla says:

    I would like to try this recipe 🙂 Looks delicious!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks, Leyla. It’s relatively simple. The trick is to add boiling hot milk to the semolina so it cooks instantly. Hope you like it😊

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Leyla says:

    Thank you 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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