Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Chocolate and Lime Halva

There are only a handful of South Asian sweets that I like: Almond Burfi, Gulab Janum and Ras Malai being the main three, but I also have a fondness for Suji ka halva perhaps because it reminds me of my childhood.

Suji (Sooji) ka Halva (Halwa) also known as Rava Kesari is a South Asian (Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi) Semolina sweet pudding. It is often enjoyed for breakfast with puris, a light deep fried pastry or served as a dessert at ceremonies.

Traditionally halvas are not overly sweet. Neither are they much to look at: a plain unappealing sandy grain colour as well as texture, which makes them a bit of an acquired taste. But this is what is great about them. Halvas can be versatile like a plain cake base, polenta, couscous, even quinoa where you add other flavours to enhance its appeal. For special occasions, my mother would often add dried fruits to the mix: green raisins, cherries, chopped pineapple and mango pieces, as well as chocolate chips, chopped nuts, namely almonds, pistachios and cashews. For extra special occasions she’d add flavoured essence and coat them with edible silver leaf. My mother continues to make a version with vegetables, namely Gajjar (carrot) halva.

I had originally thought about making a 'Chocolate and orange halva', as I always seem to have oranges rolling about in the fruit bowl, then I remembered this month’s We Should Cocoa Challenge. We Should Cocoa, as the title suggests is to create something with cocoa or chocolate, but it is much more than just chocolate challenge. Each month the host, either Choclette of Chocolate Log Blog or Chele at Chocolate Teapot will name an additional ingredient that has to be incorporated into the recipe. This month Chele has chosen lime. I like this combination, as I was instantly reminded of a sweet from my childhood – 'Chocolate Limes'. Do you remember chocolate – limes?! You suck on the hard pearly green exterior. At first it pleasantly zings in your mouth, then at some point the shell will crack gently and your mouth is filled with oozy soft chocolate. Mmmm. Its been a while since I‘ve had them.

Well no chocolate lime sweets here, instead a slice of 'Chocolate Lime Halva'. For me this was a lovely way to combine two sweets from my childhood. The chocolate lime halva is like soft fudge. My husband described it simply as 'Chocolate Semolina'. Its good warm and cold. And not that you will notice a difference to the flavour, this halva is also vegan.
This recipe makes a huge amount, imagine two bricks. So I knocked on my Malaysian neighbours doors (flat downstairs) and gave them half, they happily accepted. I was pleased. The recipe below can easily be halved.

These 'Chocolate and lime halva' bites are rather moist on their own, but feel free to serve them with a little drizzling of golden syrup or maple syrup.
Chocolate and Lime Halva
Serves a very large crowd
Ingredients400g/2 cups granulated sugar
1 ¾ pints or 4 ½ cups water
2 cinnamon sticks
250ml/1 cup olive oil
500g/3 cups semolina
Handful of pecans, chopped, keep 4 – 6 back for topping if you wish
5 tablespoons cocoa powder
Juice and zest of 1 lime*
4 – 6 tablespoons golden syrup
MethodDissolve the sugar in water over gentle heat.
Add cinnamon sticks, bring to a boil then turn the heat down and simmer gently 5 minutes.
Cool and remove cinnamon sticks.
Heat oil in a wide pan and when hot stir in semolina. Turn the heat down and cook the semolina, stirring occasionally until lightly golden. Add the cocoa powder and pecans and cook a minute.
Then very carefully stir in sugar-cinnamon syrup and gently bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, it will thicken up and be hard to stir, but continue stirring as you don't want lumpy halva. When thick and smooth, remove from heat and stir in golden syrup and lime juice until well combined.
Cool slightly and pour the soft halva into a lightly greased (or non-stick) Swiss roll pan; two 2lb baking loaves. I used my biscotti tin. Allow to cool before turning out and sprinkling with fresh lime zest and topping with additional pecans. Slice and serve. Recipe adapted from International Vegetarian Union (IVU).

*If your not keen on lime, then you can easily substitute the lime with orange. After all chocolate and orange is another wonderful combination.


  1. Oooh, this looks delicious! Pistachio halva is one of my favourite things, I love the damp-sand texture, though I've never tried to make it (probably because I would eat it all!). I love the sound of carrot halva too! Any chance of a recipe one of these days?
    Much love, dear friend

  2. Absolutely beautiful! So delicate and rich all at the same time!

  3. all of your recipes are so unique, I have never heard of this treat. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I was born and brought up in India and have fond memories of the delicious sweetmeats we would buy from our favourite sweetmart. It wasn't just the taste, it was also the splendid displays on the counters. Like walking into a jewellers! I've made some at home, with some success, but I still look frward to my husband's sporadic trips to Manchester when he returns with a box full of delights to conjure up my happy childhood.

  5. Ooooh, that looks fabulous! Your neighbours are so lucky!

  6. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhh I want to be your neighbour. Love carrot halva and your choc/lime one sounds lovely.

  7. That is a recipe to try out, I love halwa. I only know the Greek and Turkish kind,but I deffo want to make this.

  8. What a neat treat....I love the lime and chocolate mix. Delicious.

  9. Oh Mangocheeks what a wonderful recipe. I like halva very much and this sounds delicious. I like the sound of it with orange too, but those slices of lime make it look fabulous.

  10. Oooh Thank you so much littleblackfox.
    I like Pistachio halva too,, its texture is slightly different to this one though. You know I too would not have attempyed making halva at home, as I knew the end result - LOTS of it to consume, but thank goodness for willing neighbours. If I had taken it into work, the reaction of some of my colleagues without even trying them, would have been 'er...Indian sweets, don't like them'.

    I've never made the Carrot halva, but promise to get my mother to make some or give me her recipe, which I will duly pass on.
    Much love to you too my dear friend

  11. Thank you Astra Libris.

    Thank you Jennifurla.
    So pleased to read your lovely comment.

    Just Gai,
    Its so lovely to learn more about you. I've never been to India, I would love to one day.
    But I share your fond memories of these sweetmeats, especially the colourful displays on the counters. Hope its not too long when your husband visits Manchester and comes back home with some more sweet delights from your childhood. Do you have a particular South Asian favourite sweet?

  12. Thank you Kitchen Maid.

    Plummy Mummy,
    If you were, you'd sure be getting a knock on the door now and again. We always make too much to eat and woudl be happy to share.

    Thanks Patricia.
    Do feel free the reduce the ingredients by half.

    Thanks briarrose.
    So glad you like this.

  13. Thank you Kath.
    See I din't forget the chocolate/cocoa this time, but nearly did the lime!

  14. I was never a big fan of halva, Mango, but this combination sounds intriguing. I have a question: what is golden syrup? Is it corn syrup? I like the idea of chocolate and lime; it looks, and sounds, delicious.

  15. Hi Barbara,
    I understand, I was never a huge fan of halva - but over the years I have come to like it, perhaps because i don't get to eat it often or perhaps the memories attached to it.
    You guessed right, golden syrup is corn syrup.

  16. MangoCheeks - this is a great adaptation of halva. I remember years ago having several attempts at making halva with and without carrots, but as I didn't really know what it was meant to be like I never knew if I was getting it right or not. We all ate it quite happily anyway. Now you've reminded me of it and I especially like your version. Thanks for joining in the challenge - always good to have old friends on board.

  17. Thank you Choclette.
    Its quite hard to get halva wrong, so I hav eno doubt your was absolutely fine.
    So pleased to join inthis time, and I remember the chocolate/cocoa this time.
    PS I've yet to make it with carrots.

  18. im excited to have found a recipe using semolina!! (i have 2 large packs sitting in my pantry at the moment!). will bookmark this for future ref!

  19. Thank you Vivienne.
    I hope you get round to making this.

  20. Ha ha, I did notice but thought it cruel to comment about it. xx

  21. Kath,
    Not cruel - just observant and funny :)

  22. How intriguing. I've never had halva before. This looks delicious!

  23. Wow this looks so good! Ty for suggesting it. I agree, you have very lucky neighbors :)

  24. Thank you Baking Addit.

    Thank you Kris.
    May I also take the opportunity to thank you for choosing to become a follower. It really is most appreciated.


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