Halwa is a famous dessert that is prepared all over the world with various ingredients and in countless forms. This 20-minute recipe is prepared with semolina in the Pakistani and North Indian style.

Sooji ka Halwa in a gold rimmed bowl garnished with sliced almonds.

“This was my first time making halwa and it turned out delicious! I’m not a big fan of halwa so was making it for the family but I ended up eating a bunch with a spoon after it was done lol. It’s so yummy!”

Esh

The History of Halwa

You know how Tolstoy famously said, “there are as many kinds of loves as there are hearts”? Well, I’m going to not-so-famously say “there are as many kinds of halwas as there are countries”.

Apparently, there are few countries in the world in which halwa (or halvahalwah, halvehhelvahalua, and the list goes on) is NOT a traditional dessert. It’s a kind of centuries-old global sweet. The word halwa comes from the Arabic root “helw”, which means “sweet”, and many middle-eastern cultures like to claim it’s their original concoction (hey, I would want to take credit for coming up with like that too). Nonetheless, if a dessert has been carrying on for centuries, it must be pretty good, right? It’s so simple, it’s genius, not to mention easy to prepare.

Sooji ka Halwa in a gold rimmed bowl garnished with sliced almonds.

How to Make Sooji Ka Halwa

I must confess, it took me a couple (okay, several) tries to perfect this Sooji ka Halwa recipe. I’ll go on to embarrass myself by pretty much giving away how I messed up each time; so go ahead, make it and impress everyone with your halwa skills at my expense.

Two gold rimmed bowls with Sooji ka Halwa garnished with sliced almonds.

I present to you the 5 commandments of Halwa-making:

  1. Thou shalt embrace stirring. Seriously, you’re going to be stirring constantly.
  2. Thou shalt thoroughly roast the semolina, without burning it.
  3. Thou shalt boil the sugar and water mixture separately instead of being lazy and throwing it in with the browned semolina.
  4. Thou shalt not attempt to be overly healthy and skimp on the butter.
  5. Thou shalt use fine quality semolina.

If you follow the 5 commandments, you will be treated to a dessert that will feel like heaven on earth (sorry, I had to).

More Pakistani Desserts You’ll Love

20-Minute Seviyan (Sheer Khurma)
The Best Instant Pot Kheer (Restaurant Recipe)
Instant Pot Carrot Halwa (Gajar ka Halwa)
Easy Jaggery Rice in the Rice Cooker – Gur Wale Chawal

Sooji Semolina Halwa
5 (8 ratings)

Traditional Sooji ka Halwa (Semolina Halwa)

Halwa is a famous dessert that is prepared all over the world with various ingredients and in countless forms. This 20-minute recipe is prepared with semolina in the Pakistani and North Indian style.

Ingredients 

  • 1/2 cup butter, both salted and unsalted work depending on preference
  • 1 cup fine semolina, sooji
  • 2-3 cups water*
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar or cane sugar, or to taste
  • 4-5 cardamom pods, slightly cracked open
  • 1/2-2 tsp rose water, depending on how strong your rose water is
  • pinch saffron, optional
  • slivered almonds, for garnish** (optional)

Instructions 

  • Melt the butter in a non-stick saucepan on medium-low heat and add the semolina.
  • Stir the semolina continuously until it roasts evenly and turns golden in color, about 10-12 minutes. Depending on your stovetop, you may need to raise the heat to medium to help it come to the roasting point. Then lower the heat as needed. Remove from heat once the semolina is well roasted and has turned golden. You can also continue on to the next step while roasting the semolina.
  • In a separate small saucepan, bring the water, sugar and cardamom pods to a boil. Stir, and allow to simmer until the sugar is dissolved, and then remove from heat and add the rose water and saffron.
  • Place the semolina mixture back over medium heat. Stir this sugar syrup carefully into the browned semolina. Continue to stir for a couple of minutes, until the mixture thickens, loses most of its moisture and the butter starts to separate from the semolina. Sometimes I like to add a dollop of ghee at this point to give it a nice finish.
  • Garnish with slivered almonds (or other garnishings) and serve warm.

Notes

* The water will determine the texture. If you want it to be more grainy to be eaten alone, use 2 cups of water. 3 cups will yield a softer and thicker halwa like the one used for ‘halwa poori’.
** You can also add various nuts, raisins, or any other garnishing. Some people add this within the halwa while cooking it (I prefer to keep the halwa center-stage though).
 
Calories: 485kcal, Carbohydrates: 69g, Protein: 6g, Fat: 24g, Saturated Fat: 15g, Cholesterol: 61mg, Sodium: 209mg, Potassium: 112mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 38g, Vitamin A: 709IU, Vitamin C: 1mg, Calcium: 25mg, Iron: 2mg

Enjoy!