Sunday, October 19, 2014

Whole Wheat Halwa - Traditional Way for Diwali

When we grew up, there was not a single Diwali that we celebrated without this wheat halwa. We enjoyed watching my mom make this, sniffing the aroma of it and waiting eagerly for a slice to be tasted, sharing it friends, relatives, and neighbors..........those days are precious. This is my mom's recipe. After we all moved out and due to her health condition, my mom reduced making this halwa, though everybody asks for her trademark dessert. After over a decade, this year I spent my time with my mom during Diwali and we made this whole wheat halwa and jangri (my aunt and cousin joined us too).  Back then, my mom alone would make a very large batch of this halwa. But now I felt sad that her bone health is not allowing her to do like usual way, but she is a great guide. Under her guidance, we did learn to make the halwa in the perfect consistency. Thanks, mom! It was fun making together and I could feel as if it was the time back then......true festive spirit and fun.


Whole wheat (Sambha wheat) - 1 cup
Sugar - 2 cups
Cardamom - 2
Clove - 1
Red food color
Corn flour - 2/3 tbsp
Ghee- 1 and 1/2 cup
Cashews - 1/4 cup


Wash and soak the whole wheat overnight. The next day wash it and grind with about 750ml of water. Once nicely ground, filter through a cheesecloth and extract the milk. This is the first pressed milk and reserve this. To the gooey mass, add another 750ml water and grind again. Filter to get the second pressed milk and reserve this too. Add another 500ml water to the solid gooey wheat and grind again to extract the third pressed milk. Discard the gooey mass. Grease a tray with ghee and keep ready.

Now, on a heavy-bottomed large pan or pot, add sugar and the third pressed milk and heat on a medium flame. Make sure to keep on a medium flame and be near it to stir, else it may burn, and also it will overflow. By now two layers would have separated in the second and first extracted milk. Slowly decant and add the top clear liquid to the mixture that's cooking and reducing in quantity. Once that reduces to half the quantity, add the thick second extracted milk and repeat the process. Again, after this has reduced add the thick first extracted milk.

Continue to stir and cook. Slowly it would become much thicker. This is the stage to add the cornflour (mix with 2 tbsp water) and red food color. Make sure to stir continuously, so that it doesn't scorch at the bottom. Heat ghee in another pan, and start to add slowly a ladle full of ghee now and then as the mass thickens.

Crush the cardamom and clove to powder and add to the halwa. Continue stirring the thickening halwa and adding all the ghee (reserve a couple of tbsp) slowly. In a few reserved tbsp of ghee fry cashews and add to the halwa and keep stirring. After some time, some of the ghee that had been added before will ooze out a little and that's quite normal.

At one point, the halwa will twirl around without sticking to the pot or to the ladle, when stirred. This is the stage that halwa is perfect. 

You can test it by spooning a little amount on a tray. If it doesn't stick in your hands and also solidifies to a soft mass, it's perfect. Switch off the flame and pour it onto a greased tray. 

Allow it to cool for 15 - 20 mins. and slice. Let it cool completely and take out the slices and store. This yields about 30-35 slices. 

The tray pictured here is big, since we tripled the quantity mentioned here. Also, the time taken to cook this halwa for the given quantity is around 1 and 1/2  to 2 hours (soaking, grinding, and milk extracting time not included).

  • Continuous stirring is essential. Making halwa is time-consuming and labor-intensive, so if you need help, plan ahead for a helping hand.
  • Keeping on a medium flame is essential, as a high flame may burn the milk and cause it to overflow making a mess.
  • As soon as you have extracted the milk, start to cook them. If you store for longer, it may develop a sour taste.
  • Once you keep the third extracted milk with sugar on the stove, try and clean the grinder immediately, or else cleaning the sticky mass is very very hard.
  • After you pour it onto a greased plate, you can remove the excess ghee that is there on the sides of the tray with a small spoon or ladle (this is optional). This ghee can be used later.
  • If you do not want to slice it, and you prefer as a jiggly mass, you may omit the cornflour.
  • Pure ghee brings out great flavor.


  1. hi i did go back and reviewed the recipe after having at athai's house. great recipe. i told sundar even the pic looks same as i ate on that day he told its been the same for years please collect all of her recipes and keep the blog going and motivate others to enjoy the Art of

    1. Thanks Manni! Its great and we all enjoy my mom's preparations always!