Craving a warm bowl of halwa but don’t have sooji (semolina) on hand? No need to rush to an Indian store. We will tell you which ingredients to buy from a standard German grocery store to make it.
Sooji ka halwa is an Indian style pudding made using semolina. It’s typical to eat for breakfast, although its totally up to your preference when you want to have it. The texture and consistency is also a matter of personal preference. I like mine firm enough to hold up but still with a creamy consistency. Growing up in India, it used to be a weekend thing for us especially for winters. I have adapted my mother’s recipe to suit my taste. My kids like having it with as much enthusiasm as I did as a kid. Not to say that my enthusiasm has grown any less with time. I still love to have a bowl every now and then (just followed by a workout now).
Which semolina to buy from the German grocery store?
Semolina is available by the name Grieß in Germany. There are 2 variations usually available at grocery stores in Germany: Hartweizen-Grieß and Weichweizen-Grieß.
For my recipe, you will need Hartweizen. This will give you the grainy texture that we are looking for in our sooji halwa. Do not use Weichweizen for this recipe. The one pictured above is available at Aldi. You can also easily find Hartweizen-Grieß at any other standard grocery stores in Germany.
How to store semolina (sooji) to prevent it from turning rancid and keep the insects away?
I always dry roast the full packet of semolina (divided into 2 batches) and then store it after it cools down to room temperature. If you store it (after roasting) in an airtight container, your semolina will be good to use for up to 3 months. Semolina is otherwise very sensitive and easily attracts moths and insects. Roasting not only keeps the insects away and prevents it from turning rancid, it also saves a lot of time when you want to make halwa next time. Making halwa is only a matter of minutes when you have already roasted semolina on hand.
This is How to Roast Semolina:
- Take a big pan, put it on medium heat and let it heat up. Once hot add semolina. Do not overfill the pan. There should be plenty of space for the semolina to move around. If your pan is small, roast in batches.
- Keep the heat at medium at all times. Doing it on high heat will result in the semolina being burnt.
- Keep stirring for about 12-15 minutes until the semolina turns fragrant and changes to a light golden color.
- Allow to cool down before storing it into an airtight container at room temperature.
These desserts might also interest you:
Ghee: I use homemade ghee, which I make using butter. You can find ghee available at well stocked grocery stores and also at DM and Rossmann (food aisle). For a vegan version, you can use vegan butter.
Semolina: You will find semolina (sooji) by the name Hartweizen-Grieß at standard grocery stores in Germany. I get mine from Aldi.
Raw Sugar: I like using raw sugar for my halwa which gives it a rich caramelised flavor. It is available by the name Vollrohr-Zucker at well stocked grocery stores in Germany. I prefer using organic raw sugar from the brand Al-natura. You can substitute it with jaggery (gur) or white sugar, but you will have at adjust the quantity accordingly.
Milk: I use full fat milk, which makes the halwa soft and creamy. You can replace it with plant based milk if you want to keep it vegan.
Saffron: You can find saffron at well stocked grocery stores in Germany. It is especially widely available during the festive period in winter. If you can’t find it at the usual grocery stores, look at Turkish or Indian stores.
Shredded Coconut: Available by the name Kokosraspel at standard grocery stores in Germany. There are 2 variations: thick shreds and thin shreds. Either works fine for the recipe.
Raisins: Typically green raisins (sultanien) are added to sooji ka halwa. I get mine from Edeka. But if you can’t find the green ones, the brown ones will work fine as well.
Almonds: I get whole almonds that are widely available at all grocery stores in Germany. I chop them up in small pieces as is typical for the recipe. However, to save time you can also use slivered almonds (Mandeln-gehobelt).
Green Cardamom: Available at the spice aisle at well stocked grocery stores in Germany by the name Kardamom. I buy whole cardamom pods and crush them in a mortar and pestle before adding to my halwa, which keeps its maximum aroma intact. However, if you cant find whole green cardamom pods, you may use ground cardamom instead.
Sooji ka Halwa using German grocery store ingredients
- 1/2 cup (150 ml) full fat milk (or plant based milk)
- 8-10 saffron strands
- 3 green cardamom pods (substitute: ½ tsp ground cardamom)
- 1 cup (200 grams) Semolina (Hartweizen-Grieß)
- ¼ cup (50 grams) Ghee (or vegan ghee/butter)
- 2 Tbsp chopped or slivered almonds
- 2 Tbsp raisins
- 2 Tbsp shredded coconut
- 1 cup (200 grams) raw sugar (Vollrohr-Zucker)
- 1 liter water
- 1 tsp chopped or slivered almonds
- Pour the milk into a saucepan and heat it up until you see small bubbles appearing on the sides. Switch off heat and add the saffron strands. Mix to soak the saffron strand into the milk, then cover and keep aside until needed.
- Crush the cardamom pods using a mortar and pestle. Start by pounding the cardamom pods to open, then grind in a circular motion to crush most of the seeds. Alternatively you can use an electric grinder or use ground cardamom instead. Keep aside
- Put a big pan/ skillet on medium heat and let it heat up. Once hot, add your semolina and dry roast it on medium heat until it turns golden. It will take about 12-15 minutes, and you have to constantly keep it moving (on medium heat) for even roasting. Once it starts to turn fragrant and is evenly golden, transfer to a bowl and keep aside.
- Wipe clean the skillet and put it back on medium low heat. Add the ghee and let it melt. Add the almonds and fry for 1 minute, until they turn golden.
- Add the raisins and fry until they fluff up (about 1 minute).
- Add the shredded coconut and fry for half a minute.
- Add the roasted semolina and raw sugar. Turn the heat to low and saute for 2 minutes.
- In the meanwhile, bring the water to boil. While the water boil, keep stirring the halwa so it doesn't burn.
- Slowly add the boiling water to the halwa with one hand while stirring it with the other to avoid lumps. Let cook on low heat, stirring slowly until the semolina absorbs the liquid. Once you reach a consistency when you draw a line in the middle of your halwa and it doesn't run back immediately, switch off the heat.
- Add the saffron infused milk and the crushed green cardamom to the pan and mix until well incorporated. The halwa will thicken up as it cools down. Adjust the consistency to your preference. You can either add more boiled water or boiled milk to make the consistency runnier, or cook further to make the halwa firmer.
- Garnish with chopped almonds and serve warm.
- For a vegan version, replace the ghee with vegan ghee or butter and milk with plant based milk.
- Use the same measurements for semolina and sugar. If you are using weight measurements for semolina, use that for sugar as well. Same goes for the cup measurement. The amount of semolina and sugar should be the same for the recipe.
- If you want to make a smaller portion, simple cut all the ingredients in half.