The Arabic word Halwa (pronounced hull-waa) comes from the root word Hilwa which means sweet. It is therefore used in connection with most sweets, desserts or candy. In India though, the word Halwa is used to describe desserts sweets with the consistency of a thick pudding, made from various kinds of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and lentils. Halwas are usually rich and loaded with dried fruits and nuts. They are decadent and guaranteed to satisfy the pickiest of dessert eaters! Chana Daal Halwa may sound unusual but believe me, you'll be glad you made it when you do try it out. It involves soaking the lentils used overnight so factor that into prep time. There is also a fair bit of stirring but don't let that stop you - the result is well worth the work!
- Wash the Chana Daal in a sieve under running water until the water runs clear. Put into a deep bowl. Now add enough water to the daal so it is just covered. Leave to soak overnight.
- The next morning, drain all the water away and grind the soaked daal to a smooth paste in a food processor. Do not add any water while grinding.
- Prepare a sugar syrup of one-thread consistency - here's how you do it. When done, turn off the fire and add the split cardamom pods to the syrup. Cover and keep aside to use later.
- Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed (preferably non-stick) pan on a medium flame till warm.
- Add the Chana Daal paste to this ghee and stir to mix. Cook the Chana Daal, stirring frequently till it begins to turn golden and release its aroma (signs that it is 'done'). This could take from 10 to 20 minutes to happen. While it may seem like hard work, the result is well worth the effort! Another sign of done-ness to watch for is the separation of the ghee from the Chana Daal.
- When the daal looks ready (as described above), add the Khoya and full cream milk powder now and stir to blend well. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
- Now add the previously prepared sugar syrup (remove cardamom pods before adding) and stir to blend.
- Cook on a medium heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the dried fruits and cook for another 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and spread the Chana Daal Halwa on a flat plate or platter to cool. Serve while still warm, garnished with chopped nuts. Add a dollop of vanilla ice cream as a delicious extra! Enjoy!