I have been meaning to make Mohanthal (Besan Burfi) for ages now and have always been put off by how daunting it is. Then this Diwali, I decided to make it much like I overcame my reluctance to make Badushah | Balushahi last year. 🙂 I am glad I made the effort to make this traditional sweet as it turned out just perfect!
In India, sweets have a rather different connotation from desserts of the Western world. By sweets, here we mean an assortment of dishes that can be enjoyed as a post-meal dessert, be served as a snack, or then something you could just pop into your mouth when the mood takes (a la chocolates).
Mohanthal is essentially made by roasting Besan in ghee till it is brown and then adding sugar syrup to it before cooking it further. It sounds simple and it is simple I guess, except for the last part where you have to keep an eye on the Mohanthal else it will become too hard or chewy or then not set. Pretty much the same problems you have with the Traditional Mysore Pak.
There are many different variations of this traditional sweet; I chose the simplest one to try, the one without Mawa. It turned out to be decadent and delicious.
How to Make Mohanthal | Besan Burfi
Besan – 1 Cup
Ghee – 1/2 Cup + 1/2 tsp for greasing
Sugar – 1/2 Cup
Milk – 2 tsp
Water – 1/4 Cup
Lemon Juice – 1/4 tsp (Optional)
Cardamom Powder – 1/2 tsp
Nutmeg Powder – 1/4 tsp
Dry Ginger Powder – 1/2 tsp
Almond Flakes – 1 tbsp
Pistachio Flakes – 1 tbsp
Method to Make Mohanthal
Grease a 6″ plate with 1″ edge with 1/2 tsp of ghee.
Preparing the Besan
Melt 1/4 cup ghee.
Sift the besan into a large plate.
Add 2 tsp milk to the besan and mix well.
Drizzle the ghee onto the besan.
With your fingers mix well till the besan becomes like crumbs.
Making the Sugar Syrup
In a pan, gently boil the sugar and water till the sugar dissolves.
Let it boil till it reaches the one thread consistency.
Turn off the heat.
Add the dry ginger, nutmeg and cardamom powders.
Add the lemon juice and mix well. The lemon juice prevents the sugar in the syrup from crystallizing.
Making the Mohanthal
In a kadai, heat 1/4 cup of ghee.
Add the besan mixture.
Over medium heat, saute till the besan turns a rich brown earthy colour and becomes aromatic.
Turn the heat to low.
Add the sugar syrup to the besan.
Mix well. It will becomes spongy at first.
Over medium heat, cook the mixture for about 2-3 minutes while stirring constantly. Essentially to ensure that the sugar syrup is well incorporated.
Pour this hot batter into the greased plate.
Ensure that the Mohanthal spreads evenly.
Sprinkle the almond and pistachio flakes over the Mohanthal.
Let the Mohanthal cook for about 1 hour.
Using a sharp knife, cut them into squares.
For the rich brown colour, ensure that the besan is well-sauteed in the ghee. It takes some muscle power but is needed.
After adding the sugar syrup, ensure you mix everything quickly and do not cook it too much or you will have rubbery, chewy Mohanthal.
You can store the Mohanthal at room temperature for 2-3 days. For a longer duration, I would recommend refrigerating it.
Asoka Halwa is South-Indian Style Moong Dal Halwa from from the Tanjavur (Tanjore) district of Tamil Nadu. Locally, it is also known as Thiruvaiyaru Halwa after the city where it originated.
Making Asoka Halwa is similar to making the North Indian Moong Dal Halwa except that it uses a bit of wheat flour to hasten the cooking process and a lot less ghee. Also, many a time, yu will find it bright orange in colour because of food colour (I did not use any).
In terms of taste and texture, the Thiruvaiyaru Halwa is far more dense but similar in taste to the Moong Dal Halwa.
Do try it this Diwali and decide for yourself.
How to Make Asoka Halwa | Thiruvaiyaru Halwa | South-Indian Moong Dal Halwa
Time: 1 Hour
Makes: 2 Cups
Serves: 6 to 8
Moong Dal – 1/2 cup
Sugar – 1.25 cups
Ghee – 8 tbsp
Wheat flour – 2 tbsp
Green Cardamom – 6
Orange/Red Food Colour – A Few Drops (Optional)
Cashew – 10 to 12
Getting the Moong Dal Ready
Over a medium flame, dry roast the moong dal till it is light golden colour.
Soak the moong dal in in 1.25 cups water for about 15 minutes.
Pressure cook the moong dal for about 4 whistles till it is of mashable consistency.
Let it cool a bit.
Roasting the Cashews and Wheat Flour
Over medium heat, melt 2 tbsp ghee.
Add split cashews and fry till light golden.
Remove the cashews.
Lower the flame.
To the same ghee, add the wheat flour.
Stir-fry till it starts to change colour and becomes aromatic.
Remove into a plate to cool.
If the moong dal has a lot of residual water, drain it.
Peel the green cardamom.
Grind together the sugar and green cardamom seeds to a fine powder.
To the sugar, add the moong dal and grind together to a smooth paste. Because of the water in the sugar, it will become a bit liquidy.
In a non-stick pan, heat about 3 tbsp ghee.
Add the moong dal paste and saute while stirring constantly.
When the paste starts to change colour and become translucent, add 2 tbsp ghee.
Add the fried cashews and wheat flour.
Cook while stirring constantly. The Asoka Halwa will now thicken very quickly.
Continue to cook till the Asoka Halwa starts to leave the sides of the pan.
I have very fond memories associated with Karachi Halwa (also known as Bombay Halwa in South India). My Uncle was doctor and hosted an annual party for his fellow doctor friends at his home. These parties were the only occasions on which non-vegetarian food and alcohol was allowed into my Grandparents home (It is a long story and reserved for another post!).
When the date for this party neared, there was a lot of planning and shopping to be done. My mom was always in-charge of sweets and dry snacks, and we got them from Punjabi Chandu Halwai Karachiwala. My brother and I accompanied Amma on this shopping spree and one thing that always stood out for me was the colourful array of small Karachi Halwa parcels. Glossy, chewy, and studded with nuts, they stood out among all the other sweets and I would pester my mom for some.
I was and am inordinately fond of this sweet. So, when I found out that I could make this easily at home, I was thrilled and made it as a part of my Diwali sweets this year.
This dish was brought to India by the Halwais who migrated to India after the partition, and came to be known as Karachi Halwai. Many of these Halwais settled in Mumbai and slowly this dish also came to be known as Bombay Halwa as it was popularly found here in Amchi Mumbai.
A Word of Caution About This Recipe: This halwa is best eaten within a day or two of making it. I have found that when stored the sugar water tends to leach out from the halwa. I will try other versions and update this post with a new recipe.
Diwali (called Deepavali in the South) is the renowned Indian festival of lights. It is the time families and friends come together to celebrate. And where there is a celebration there is always food aplenty. Here are a collection of Diwali recipes for sweets and savories that you could try this Diwali and enjoy with your near and dear ones.
While these Diwali recipes will help you cook wonderful food, Diwali are more than just about food! The oil bath or Abhyanga Snan is a very important part of Diwali. Want a quick and easy version of the oil bath? Read this post!
Now that Navratri is winding down it is time to think of Diwali. How time flies! While I have a great Collection of Diwali Recipes on the blog, I realised that it is missing some popular recipes; like Rava Laddu. So here I am to set that right.
My mother always made Rava Laddu without milk, using just ghee as the binding factor. This version can also be stored for much longer than the one with milk and so you can make it a few days before Diwali. The best part about Rava Laddu is that all ingredients are easily available in an Indian home; rava (semolina), ghee, sugar, cashew and kishmish. So you can even make this when you have last minute guests.
How to Make Rava Laddu Without Milk
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Makes: 16 Laddus
Rava, Semolina – 1 Cup
Sugar – 3/4 Cup
Ghee – 1/4 Cup + 1 Tbsp
Cashews – 10
Kishmish – 20
Green Cardamom – 4
Over a low-to-medium flame, dry roast the rava while stirring constantly till it just starts to change colour. You really to keep stirring constantly as rava tends to burn quickly. Also ensure it does not turn brown.
Spread in a plate to cool.
In the meantime, peel the cardamom.
Grind the sugar and cardamom seeds together to a fine powder. You could also grind the semolina along with the sugar to get a fine powder. I prefer the grainy texture and so did not do this.
After the rava cools, add the powdered sugar to the rava.
Break the cashews into small pieces.
Heat 1 tbsp ghee.
Fry the cashews till light golden brown.
Add the kishmish and mix well.
Wait till they puff.
Add the roasted rava.
Over low heat, melt 1/4 cup ghee.
Take off the heat and wait for about 5 minutes for it to cool.
Add the the roasted rava.
Mix well. The rava will be like damp sand at this point.
Divide into 16 portions.
Pick one portion of the rava.
Using your fist press into a round laddu shape.
Gently place each Rava Laddu into a plate. Keep some distance between the laddus because at this stage they are fragile and will break easily.
Repeat to make all the laddus.
Let the Rava Laddu rest for about 1 hour. The ghee in the mix will solidify and the laddus will become firm.