For the month of July, the Indian Cooking Challenge is visiting the halwa town of South India - Thirunelveli. The Thirunelveli halwa is very soft, loaded with ghee, which will slide down your tongue, so effortlessly, that will leave you asking for more. The halwa is truly irresistible that you will forget all the calories loaded in each spoon fulls that you consume.
Srivalli gave various recipes from fellow bloggers to try from. I chose to do from Latakka. For me, Thirunelveli halwa is always the scoop able type and not in the form of pieces. It took a solid one hour to get the glossy, soft halwa. The effort was worth it.
Whole wheat grains - 1 cup
Sugar - 3 cups ( I used 2 1/2 cups)
Water - 3 cup +1 cup
Ghee - 1 cup
Cardamom powder - 1 tspn
Cashew- 10 nos
Food Color - a pinch
Preparing the wheat milk
Wash and soak the wheat grains in enough water for around 20 hours or a day. Grind the wheat in a mixer grinder or wet grinder. Strain the ground wheat to extract the milk. If you are grinding in the mixer, add some water and grind again to extract the milk. You can repeat this once more if you feel there is some milk left. I ground in the wet grinder. So it was ground to almost fine paste. So got all the milk at once.
Leave the milk to stand for a minimum of 5 hours. Drain the water which floats on top of the milk so that you are left with the thick milk which gets collected at the bottom. I got 1 cup of milk.
Making the halwa
Add 3 cups of water to the 1 cup of milk. Take a heavy bottom vessel or kadai. Take 3 cups of sugar with 1 cup of water. Bring the syrup to one string consistency. Add a pinch of color to the syrup. Then add the diluted milk to the sugar syrup. Mix well. From this stage, its non stop stirring for 45 minutes. Another pair of
helping hands will be good too. When the mixture thickens, you can start adding the ghee at intervals.
When the ghee is added, it will float initially. Later, it will be absorbed.
As it gets cooked, it will turn glossy and thick. It will not stick to the bottom of the pan. When you tilt the vessel, the halwa would come together and slide easily. Add the cardamom powder and roasted cashews to it.
Scoop and enjoy hot halwa. On cooling the halwa will turn thick but will be soft.
I added 2 1/2 cups of sugar. It was sweet enough for us. If you want it it be really sweet, I will suggest adding 3 cups. I am sure if my Dad tasted it, he would have told its not sweet enough. If you want to make into pieces, transfer the halwa to a greased plate. Smooth the top and leave it to cool and slice it. I added very little color to make it look close to the Thirunelveli halwa, which has a brown color.