Helva Recipes

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Chana Milk Halwa (Besan Burfi) Recipe

Chana Milk Halwa (Besan Burfi)

02.23.10 by Jackie

If you're familiar with French pâtes de fruit or fudge, you'll want to try the Indian / Middle Eastern equivalent,  called halwa. Halwa literally means "sweet" in Arabic. It can be made with different ingredients such as carrots, pumpkin, yams, beets, semolina and many types of beans, lentils or nuts.

Daddy (my father-in-law) had a craving for some chana dal halwa, so my mother-in-law made several batches this weekend. To the chana dal, she added roasted cashew nuts (Kaju in Urdu) for flavor and texture. This particular recipe also calls for a large quantity of clarified butter, or gheeGhee is popular in Indian cuisine and can be found at almost any Indian grocery store. This dessert is definitely not low fat or low calorie, but the taste and texture are extraordinary. Store-bought halwa cannot compare.

We made a huge batch and stored them in tins in the refrigerator. The girls placed the sweet candy in cellophane gift bags and tied a pretty bow around them to give away to their friends and teachers. Whether  or not you decide to share the dessert with others, you should definitely find time to make some. Your efforts will definitely be rewarded.


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Gajar Halva (Indian Carrot Halwa Dessert) Recipe

Halva means sweet in Arabic. India is home to many varieties of halva, and it can be found at almost all of our family gatherings.

This particular type is made with carrots. Lulu's aunt taught me how to make it. The base is a dense, sweet confection made of flour such as cream of wheat or garbanzo flour, nut butter such as tahini, or lentils like mung beans. My friend Carole, who is by the way the editor of the site, told me she loves this kind. Here's her feedback about carrot halva:

"Your halva was smoother [than the one I get at the restaurant], and at the same time more flavorful but more subtle, too. We loved it. I can't wait to see the recipe and what's involved. I have a sneaky feeling there's going to be more butter than I want to know about!"

I told Carole: "Well, don't be afraid, there are only two tablespoons of ghee". I prefer making it at home because the gajar halva found at restaurants tends to be too thin and cloyingly sweet. I suspect that the extra sweetness is used to conceal the lack of richness that one would expect from real gajar halva.

Gajar halva, like some Vietnamese desserts, is not always the most glamourous-looking sweet, but it is delicious. If you've never had it before, try making some at home. You will love it.


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