My 100th day of blogging, and incidentally my 100th recipe, “Tirunelveli Halwa / Godhumai (Wheat) Halwa”. When I started blogging about 3 months back, I was thinking to post a recipe a day. However I had serious doubts in my mind. I was not sure if I would be able to cook, photograph and write down the recipes on a daily basis along with my regular routine. Had a even bigger question mark on whether I would exhaust all the recipes I know quickly, and will end up wondering which recipe I need to post next 😀 So now when I penning down my 100th post, if I have to take a look back, by God’s grace it has been a smooth and exciting journey so far. Glad that I had started this food blog. A small kudos to myself 😉
You all by now would know that sweets and especially Halwa is my favorite to cook 🙂 So had to make the world famous Tirunelveli Halwa for the special 100th post. While there are so many variations of Halwa, nothing can match the taste and melt in the mouth texture of the Tirunelveli Halwa (Iruttu Kadai Halwa). It was one of my very favorites and single-handedly I would have completed many a packets during my childhood. While there are easier versions of this halwa made with shortcuts like using wheat flour, it doesn’t get more authentic than this recipe here which uses wheat milk extracted from the berries.
While I have tried making both the versions, there is definitely a significant reward in taking the time and making it the authentic way. And to make things more interesting, my 100th post has coincided with the π (pi) day, which is a 100 yrs once event. For folks who are not aware today’s date is 3.14.15 the value of π (pi), the mathematical constant. Interesting isn’t it 😉
Tirunelveli Halwa is a South Tamil Nadu dessert made from milk extracted from wheat berries. This homemade version is authentic and melts in your mouth.
- Wheat berry - 1/2 Cup
- Ghee - 1/2 Cup (Add more if needed)
- Cashew - 10
- Sugar - 1 1/2 Cups
- Cardamom powdera large pinch
- Water - As needed
- First wash and soak the wheat berries over night or for 8 hrs.
- Add the wheat berries into a mixie along with sufficient water and grind until fine. Use a mesh strainer to extract the wheat milk. Transfer the milk to a clean bowl. Now, take the left over pulp in the mixie, add more water and similarly extract the thin wheat milk. Repeat the process 1 more time.
- Let the extracted wheat milk sit undisturbed and ferment for a minimum of 6 hrs. You will find that the thick milk settles at the bottom and a thin watery liquid floats on top. Carefully tilt the vessel and discard the thin watery liquid from the top. I got about 3/4 cup of thick wheat milk. Add 1/3 cup of water to the collected thick wheat milk, mix and keep aside.
- Now heat a small pan with 1 Tbsp of ghee, add the cashews and saute until golden brown. Remove the cashews alone and keep aside.
- Now in the same pan, to the leftover ghee, add 1/2 cup of sugar and saute in low-medium flame. At the same time, side by, heat a large pan with 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water, mix nicely until the sugar dissolves and bring the sugar syrup to a boil.
- By now the sugar in the small pan will start to melt. Do stir nicely to get the sugar dissolved completely.
- Coming back to the large pan, the sugar syrup by now will attain one string consistency. Turn the flame to low-medium. The one string consistency is really important to get the perfect melt in your mouth halwa. Once the sugar syrup attains the consistency, add the wheat milk and stir continuously to avoid lumps formation. Within few minutes the mixture will slightly thicken up and will become transparent.
- By now the sugar in the small pan will attain the golden brown color of caramelization. This is the perfect stage to add it to the halwa.
- Add the hot caramelized sugar from the small pan carefully into the large pan and keep stirring continuously.
- You will now start seeing the super authentic golden brown color for the halwa. At this stage, start adding the remaining ghee little by little at regular intervals until the halwa stops absorbing any further ghee, and starts to move freely without sticking to the pan and will turn slightly pale in color.
- Now add in the fried cashews, cardamom powder and mix well. Keep stirring for a few more minutes, turn off the flame and transfer to serving bowl.
- It will be tempting to have it immediately. But the halwa will be extremely hot and you may burn your tongue. So let it cool down to room temperature and Enjoy the authentic Tirunelveli halwa.
- Wheat and sugar ratio should be 1:3 to get the perfect glossy look of the halwa.
- Fermenting the wheat milk is really important. You need to get the perfect thick wheat milk with well separated whey.
- Do not let the sugar caramelize for too long and turn dark. It will spoil the taste and lead to bitter halwa.
- It is better to carry on the process in low-medium flame. It might take extra time, but the chances of failing will be Zero and the end product will be perfect.
- Please carry on with the caramelization of sugar (small pan) and sugar syrup (large pan) simultaneously. Step 5.
- If you prepare the caramelized sugar first, it will harden up by the time we need to add it to the halwa.
- If you prepare the caramelized sugar after the sugar syrup reaches one string consistency, the halwa would thicken up by the time the caramelized sugar is ready. And you will not be able to mix both together.