Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Dal for Dessert anyone? Moong Dal Halwa

A study in contrast applies perfectly to this famous dessert. My dad used to call Moong daal a poor man's feast. According to him, it was the most abundant produce in the state of Haryana in Northern India while he was growing up, and hence the cheapest. And yet, it is used to make the most coveted sweet of that region. The recipe is simplicity personified, and yet so hard to master! I could never understand why my mom only made it on birthdays and Diwali, seeing that it only used 3 basic ingredients. Now, I do. This has got to be the most tedious, time consuming and fattening dessert ever! Don't get me wrong- I still love eating it. It is just that, making it is so....tedious (did I mention that before?)

So, I learnt from my mom and only make it for Diwali (not even birthdays are that important now!) However, all said, it is still worth the effort. This dish is so rich, that it hides small imperfections very well. So you can't go wrong with it. Even if you don't do it exactly right, it will still turn out delicious! Unlike my mom, I make a small(er) batch of Moong Daal Halwa - it saves me time and effort. Larger quantities of the daal take that much longer to roast. Remember that when you decide to make your Moong Daal Halwa. If you can do a larger quantity, then the good news is that this keeps very well in the fridge or freezer. Here is how I make this yummy dessert.

Moong Daal Halwa

Yellow moong Daal 1cup
Ghee/ clarified butter 1cup
Sugar 1 1/2 cup Besan/
Gram Flour 2 tbsp
Water 3-4 cups
Saffron 8-10 strands soaked in 1 tbsp cold milk (optional)
Raisins, almonds and cashews to garnish
  1. Soak moong dal in 3-times the amount of water overnight (You dont have to be very accurate here, just eye ball it).
  2. Drain and remove as much water as you can, then coarsely grind the daal. You don't want to have a very runny mixture, so try to use as little water as possible.
  3. In a heavy bottomed kadai, heat the ghee till you see bubbles rising. Add two tbsp besan (chickpea flour), and brown it.
  4. Now add the daal while stirring continuously. Initially the mixture sticks to the bottom of the pan, so make sure you force it off while stirring.
  5. Roast this mix (on medium heat) till the daal changes color and becomes deep brown. At this point, it will also separate from ghee, so you will know.
  6. Now add the water, saffon-milk and sugar' again stirring till you attain the desired consistency.
  7. Garnish with raisins and nuts and serve!
My two cents: it took me about 40 min to roast the quantity of daal I mention here. It should turn a deep brown, but not be burnt. But of course this time depends on your stove and pan, so keep a watch. Allow the ghee to be very hot before you add anything. The 2 tbsp of besan is my mom's trick to minimize daal sticking- believe me, it works. And make sure you keep scraping off the pan while roasting the daal, if anything sticks to the bottom, the rest won't roast properly resulting in a sticky, gooey Halwa. Less is more; so eat in moderation! And Finally, this recipe is my entry for Jeanne's 16th helping of My Legume Love Affair, a continuation of the series started by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook and also to the monthly Families Recipes event hosted by Laura of The Spiced Life this month.