Friday, January 15, 2010

Indian Cooking Challenge - Moong Dal Halwa (Split Mung Bean Dessert)

The ICC (Indian Cooking Challenge) is the brainchild of Srivalli, and her aim is to get all who are interested to attempt heirloom Indian recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. However with our increasingly modernized lifestyles, some of these recipes are being side-stepped or forgotten, so there in itself is the challenge!

I'm a sucker for Internet food groups as can be seen by my growing blog sidebar (and waistline!). This month's challenge was Moong Dal Halwa, a North Indian specialty dessert or sweet treat made with moong dal (split mung beans), clarified butter, milk and sugar. I found it interesting that this dish is apparently only made in winter months, since it has such a high protein and fat content, it actually helps to keep the body warm!

Challenge - I've never tasted, let alone seen, this dish. But following along with Srivalli's exact recipes, I took to the kitchen.

Moong Dal Halwa (Recipe Version 2 With Milk from from Srivalli, with help from Lata and Simran)

Split (Yellow) Moong Dal - 1 cup
Ghee/Clarified Butter - 1/2 cup
Sugar - 3/4 cups to 1 cup (as per required sweetness)
Milk - 1/2 cup
Cashews/ Raisins roasted in ghee for garnish.

Method:

Make sure you get the right dal. I first bought split mung beans WITH skin (green in color) and came home to realize this recipe is made with split mung beans WITHOUT skin (yellow in color). Return to store and get the right dal before beginning =).

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1. Dry roast the dal in a dry saucepan over medium heat till the lentils are heated through.
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This is a melt-in-your-mouth dessert, you can really taste the richness of the clarified butter/ghee in this dish, I don't think I even used the full amount called for in the recipe. I love the taste of the cashew nuts and raisins with it, I think they are an integral addition, rather than optional. Thanks ICC for letting me in on this challenge!
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2. Soak the dal in water overnight.
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3. Next morning, grind dal with a little water to a paste. I forgot to take a picture of this.4. Heat a non-stick saucepan, take only 1/2 of the ghee called for and heat it.
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5. Add the dal and stir continuously, not allowing lumps to form. This part is very tricky as the dal cooks really fast, irrespective of the ghee. Well they did say tricky, and I obviously got it wrong. My dal turned into a giant lumpy mess. This dessert started looking like the McClump Special.6. Turn heat low and keep stirring even after the dhal becomes thick. No luck for me, still clumpy.
7. Add the rest of the ghee intermittently and cook the dal until aromatic and the ghee starts oozing out. Still no luck...At this point, even the cherubic baby on the ghee jar is strarting to laugh at me. Look at him! he's trying so hard to stifle his grin...
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8. Meanwhile mix the sugar with water/ milk in a pan and bring to a boil. Add this slowly to the dal. I thought perhaps this step may redeem me, maybe, oh just maybe the milk would dissolve my lumps?
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9. Keep the heat on low at all times and break lumps if formed while adding the sugar and water/ milk mix. Cook until the ghee surfaces or the mixture becomes shiny. Yes! We have shiny!!!10. Garnish with cashews and raisins. OK, this part I could do! * triumphant*

7 comments:

Sheetal Kiran said...

LOL! You and I might as well have been in the same kitchen! My dal too took the longest time coming together, too. I think someone up there just took pity on me, and said oh, alright! Before you start whining again ... here you go. I am really impressed with the beautiful color, and texture of your halwa ... and you say you have never tried this before!! (Gives an incredulous look) ;)

Jyothi said...

Ann,

ur halwa is looking fantastic. adding the grace is the dry fruits.Really seeing so many moong dhal halwa and resisting to eat it is difficult..

s said...

ha!! gues we are on the same boat when it comes to identifying lentils. Half my prep was getting the right dal!!!!this looks so good...presentation and all eh!!

notyet100 said...

i see halwa everywhere,..:-)halwa looks yum

Jaya Wagle said...

I am gaining pounds and drool at the same time reading all the ICC moong halwa fever.
And now girl, here are my two cents for what they are worth.

One, I grew up in the north, eating this every winter and I still eat it when I go back home. But I'll never make it at home nor has my mom ever done it. We get a halwai to do it. The reason, like you said it, elbow grease. Plus, if you don't cook it, you don't feel guilty of all that ghee. :)
Second, always, always cardamom should be added to this, for the added flavor and aroma. I am surprised that the original recipe didn't call for it.
That being said, this is a healthier version than what I am used to eating, which usually has an inch of ghee on top!
My growing waistline is one more reason I decided not to do ICC and dropped out of Sweet and Simple Bakes.

lata raja said...

Hey I see nice colour halwas all over. Mine sort of very off this yellow. Loved the way you have presented the nuts in the periphery et all.

Rina said...

Hi Ann, thanx for visiting my blog..which introduced me to urs..luv this moong dhal halwa..a definite try..can imagine the oroma and flavour of this dessert..thanx again..