This recipe will yield at least 6-8 ample servings.
- 2 1/2 cups water (we substitute whole milk, which makes a richer end product)
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar (other types of sugars can be substituted)
- 5 ounces UNSALTED butter (that’s 1 & 1/4 sticks). Salted butter will give a less desirable taste.
- 1 1/4 cups cream of wheat (non-instant/fine, i.e., coarsest variety). Experience has shown that instead of using only cream of wheat, that you may, instead, combine 3/4 cup of cream of wheat with 1/4 cup semolina (available at Whole Foods), & 1/4 cup besan (chickpea flour). This makes for a creamy smooth halava.
- 1 cup fruit is a minimum. Plain (non-fruit) halava is fine, but often people prefer a fruit of choice (pineapple, raspberry, blueberry, dates, etc.)
In a large frying pan (no aluminum cookware, please) melt the butter, & over low heat add the grains (cream of wheat, semolina, besan flour, etc.), stirring & flipping the heating grains as they heat. You don’t want them to become like overdone toast, i.e., burned. The idea is to LIGHTLY brown (actually TAN) the grains—takes less than 20 minutes on low to medium heat. Either turn the heat off, or to the lowest setting.
Meanwhile, place the whole milk into a saucepan & add the sugar. It’s best to stir this mixture until the sugar no longer settles out on the bottom in a mass. Place the pan on high heat until it comes to a boil, turn the heat off, & place a cover over the pan.
If you’re making plain halava, you may add 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla at this stage. Alternatively, if you’re making fruit halava, if you add 1/2 cup of fruit at this stage—it will soften the fruit & ultimately flavor the halava nicely, & depending upon the fruit—may produce some fruit “curd” as a bonus—which shouldn’t alarm you.
Bring the milk/sugar/fruit mix again to a boil, & then pour it into the browned (tan) grain mix, now on low heat—stirring all the while.
As this mixture cooks it will become thicker & thicker. It’s at this point you should add the remaining 1/2 cup of fruit (or more if desired) so as to ensure that at least part of the fruit maintains its “structural integrity.”
Depending upon what texture you desire the halava as it firms up—take the halava off the heat & pour the mix into the container in which it will be served, & cover it so it will “steam” cook the rest of the way. There is an art to making the halava fluffy, if you desire, however we’ve not learned that art.
Always offer the preparation to Krishna before enjoying!
This is Amit Acara dasa’s recipe, adapted from the recipes of other Bhakti yoga cooks, and with over 3.5 decades of trial and error.