Semolina Slice

Friday, February 15, 2013

This is a blast back into my childhood, a nostalgic recreation albeit on the arguably healthy side. As a child growing up in the "islands in the sun" my year was defined by school holidays, festivals and when I was due for a sugar high. I saved all my pennies for the ubiquitous Indian sweet carts dotted around the capital. Gulab jamun, lakari, gulgula and jalebi were a few of my favourites. But the star attraction was halwa, it was always served during the festival of lights or diwali celebrations. A long wait indeed for a once a year event. It wasn't until my trip two years ago to India that I had the pleasure of having this sweet concoction for breakfast. As soon as I got back home I dug up the recipe and tweaked it a little and voila it was every bit as delicious. I had no idea how easy it was to cook, my hesitancy I confess stemmed from a misconception about it's preparation.

I adore semolina and cardamom even more. I had always associated cardamon with Indian cooking and it was a surprise to find this unique spice popping up in Sweden. Those Vikings sure got around, they discovered it in Constantinople and it's primarily used in baked goods surpassing cinnamon in it's popularity. Apart from Scandinavia a large proportion of it's consumption is here in the Middle East, commonly used in coffee. And India is not the largest producer of this expensive spice but it is instead the country of Guatemala.

I have used spelt semolina instead of wholewheat but you could easily substitute if you are unable to find spelt semolina. You could throw in some cashews or almonds for a bit of crunch. I have used raisins as my youngest daughter is partial to them. This recipe is dedicated to my good friend Meral who has sadly moved to Belgium. She is my number one blog supporter. We both share a love for semolina. I know there is something similar in her native country of Turkey. I'm looking forward to your feedback Meral!

Semolina Slice or Halwa

200g whole spelt semolina
50g coconut butter (use a mild, neutral tasting version)
100g coconut sugar
250ml water
1 tsp ground cardamom
Handful of raisins (optional or use nuts instead)

Start off by toasting the semolina in a large frying pan on high heat for approximately 5 minutes. Be sure to stir constantly until you have a lovely nutty aroma and the semolina is light brown. Remove from the heat and tip into a heat proof bowl, add the coconut butter and mix. Set aside.

Add the water and coconut sugar in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiled and the coconut sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat and tip in the semolina, cardamom and raisins (or nuts) and stir to combine. The mixture will quickly thicken, then remove from the heat and transfer to a shallow dish. Press the mixture down into the dish using the back of a spoon. Leave to cool before cutting and serving. Serves 6.

Adapted from the Hindustani Halva recipe in The Yoga Cookbook by Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centres.