The most commonly prepared halwa in India is undeniably the simple Sooji Halwa. It’s simple to prepare and is called by many names like Rava Sheera in the western states and Rava Kesari in the south. It is prepared with a variety of nuts like cashews and almonds and has a savoury, mellow flavour.
Aate Ka Halwa
Aate Ka Halwa, as its name suggests is made from whole wheat flour commonly in the northern states, where an interesting combo of puri and halwa is quite popular as breakfast or snacks. Prepared with dry fruits and nuts, a variant of this Halwa, Karah Prasad is a common offering at Gurudwaras in India.
Moong Dal Ka Halwa
Originating in Rajasthan, Moong Dal ka Halwa is prepared mostly during special occasions like weddings, Diwali and Holi, as it is considered to be auspicious. Made with heaps of ghee, this Halwa takes time and patience to prepare, and its rich taste is worth the effort. A Rajasthani custom is to eat this Halwa during colder seasons as it is said to keep you warm and healthy,which considering the calorie content in this dish, is totally believable.
Carrot Halwa is a dessert whose origin defies borders. First prepared in Pakistan and North India during the Mughal period, it is now prepared in varied forms like red velvet halwa, carrot-beetroot Halwa, and cheese-gajar Halwa. Extremely popular among diabetics for its low sugar content and short preparation time, this dish is made from finely grated carrots and garnished with nuts.It is also served at all festivals like Diwali, Eid-Ul-Fitr and Raksha Bandhan.
Also known as lauki ka halwa, this simple dish can be made in minutes. It is made using grated bottle gourd, milk and khoya and is flavoured with fragrant cardamom. Dry fruits and nuts can be added to give it a crunchy texture and richer taste.
Chana Dal Halwa
Chana dal has a richer taste compared to other pulses, and this halwa flavoured with saffron, cardamom and slow cooked in pure ghee is truly delectable. The soaked chana is slowly sautéed until completely cooked and then boiled in flavoured milk to achieve its unique taste.
A variant of sooji halwa that is prepared specially for every Ganesh Chaturthi, the auspiciously named Sathyanarayanan halwa is made by adding banana chunks to the semolina during cooking after which the Halwa is flavoured with basil leaves. The Halwa is mostly accompanied by varieties of Ladoo.
This Halwa which is made all over India commonly during Diwali is made by cooking pure cashew nut paste flavoured with saffron and cardamom in ghee and sugar until the dish attains the required consistency and is then cooled. The pure cashew base and copious amounts of ghee give this Halwa a rich, nutty taste, and even a small helping is enough to fill your belly.
An Udupi recipe originating in the Mangalore area, Kashi Halwa is made using ash gourd and invariably makes an appearance at any special function in this region of India. The grated ash gourd is slowly cooked in ghee and sugar and garnished with cashews, almonds, raisins and pista. The flavour can be enhanced by sprinkling a few drops of Kesari water at the end of preparation.
This rubbery textured Halwa, a specialty of the port city of Calicut is a best seller not only in Kerala but throughout India. Named as sweet meat by the British colonists, this dish is made with pure coconut oil instead of ghee in true Keralite style giving it a unique, regional flavour.
Being named Black Halwa, this dish owes its unique colour and taste to the jaggery that is used as a sweetener in place of sugar. It also makes use of rice flour in place of all-purpose flour and large amounts of freshly pressed coconut milk. The final flavour is achieved using Vanilla essence.
Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu is indisputably the most famous source of halwa in this southern state. The Halwa made in Iruttu Kadai has reached almost legendary status for their Halva.The recipe uses large amounts of sugar and ghee and even though it stays open only for a few hours the rush of customers is a testament to the taste and quality of the Halwa.
Made with ripe papaya, this dish is a healthy alternative sweet as it doesn’t require much sugar due to the papaya’s inherent sweetness and flavour. Garnished with fresh nuts and raisins, it can be prepared easily and is a refreshing twist on a traditional recipe.
Khas-Khas halwa originated from Iranian recipes during the Mughal era and is still a popular sweet in the northern states. It has a soft flavour, is healthy and nutritious, and is often given to new mothers for this reason.
A Mumbai specialty,Mahim Halwa obtains its name from the suburb in Mumbai where it was first prepared. This unique sweet is painstakingly prepared by layering thin square sheets of Kesri flavoured sweetened dough between sheets of oil paper and then pressing them together after which it is decorated with crispy almonds and pista. The resulting sweet is so delicate that it is also called Bombay ice Halwa.
Also known as Multani Sohan Halwa for its place of origin in Pakistan, this dish is made using fine corn flour and is flavoured with saffron. The sweet is brittle and crumbles on the tongue and is intensely flavourful.
Another healthy dessert, this dish is made using ragi cooked in coconut milk and sweetened using Coconut sugar or jaggery and is eaten as breakfast or snacks in the southern parts of India.
Dates Mawa Halwa
The simplest Halwa dish ever, this recipe contains only three ingredients – dates, khoya and a smattering of ghee, and can be prepared within ten minutes making it ideal for a quick snack.
Made using potatoes, this quick snack originates from a Marwari recipe and is prepared by boiling grated potatoes in milk and ghee and sweetening with sugar, a perfect evening snack accompanied by tea.
Originating in Karachi, Pakistan this dish migrated to Punjab and then to Bombay where it is quite popular today. Made with corn flour and clarified butter, this Halwa has a jelly-like consistency and is a delight to eat.