Friday, October 28, 2016

Karachi Halwa(Bombay Halwa)

Diwali, the most celebrated festival of lights is here again, and I have come out with Karachi Halwa(Bombay Halwa) in two flavours for our followers.
Strawberry flavoured chewy Karachi Halwa
When I talk about Karachi Halwa, my memory dates back to the mid Sixties, when my brother Shashikanth got his job in Bank Of India and settled in Bombay. Every year when he visited home town, he used to bring two types of halwas from Bombay, the popular Mahim Halwa or the Ice Halwa and the chewy sticky Karachi Halwa. Those days we called it Bombay Halwa. This halwa was formulated by the Sindhis from Karachi before Independence, when Karachi was part of India, and trade activities were brisk between Bombay and Karachi.

Karachi Halwa is a chewy Indian sweet meat made with arrowroot powder or corn starch, loaded with the goodness of almonds, pistachios and other dry fruits. In Mumbai it is available in different colours and flavours, sold in every nook and corner by mithaiwalas and this sweet has a prime place among Diwali Sweets. Typically they make this adding hydrogenated vegetable oil or vanaspati, but this tastes awesome when we make it with pure ghee. The chewy sticky halwa releases vivid flavours as we bite into the crunchy roasted nuts embedded within. Fine halwa comes in two textures, soft and sticky. Soft ones can not be preserved for more than 2 weeks and they also smell old sooner. Sticky ones can be preserved for over a month. The whole process requires nothing but patience, for you may need to keep stirring the contents for one to and one and half hours.

I am fond of this halwa which I wanted to make long ago, but somehow never tried until recently. First I tried this recipe from NDTV Food Channel by Chef Niru Gupta, but with my own variations. I also added strawberry crush which is readily available in 750ml bottle. That enhanced the taste of the halwa, making the eater crave for more and more!
Saffron flavoured soft Karachi Halwa
Second attempt was, making this with saffron flavour. This time I reduced the amount of added sugar and also set the halwa faster, which made it firm but soft. You can add amount of sugar in the proportion 1:1 but you can also increase the amount of sugar upto 1:2, that is for 1 cup arrowroot powder, you add 2 cups sugar. My preference is 1:1 for soft halwa and 1:1.5 for chewy one. Adding any fruit crush which has sugar in it, calls for reduction in amount of added sugar proportionately. In such case, my 1:1.5 formula works wonderfully well. Please also note that the total volume of added ghee should be not less than 100 ml for 1 cup of arrowroot powder and proportionate sugar. If you add more ghee, it floats over the top after setting the halwa, and can be used for making some other sweet dish or can also be used for pouring over Puran Polis. I didn't add cardamom to this halwa, as it spoils the flavour of strawberries as well as saffron.

Happy cooking, "Happy Festival of Lights to you all"!

Ingredients:
Sugar - 250-500 Gm(1-2 Cups depending on your requirement)  
Arrowroot Powder - 1 Cup(115 Gm)
*Red/Orange/Green Food Coloring(As per the flavour you choose) - 3-5 Drops 
Strawberry/Orange/Pineapple/Lychee/Grape or any similar tangy fruit crush - 1/4 Cup(Optional)
Saffron - A generous pinch(Optional)
Lemon juice - 2Tsp or 1/2Tsp Ciric Acid dissolved in little water(I used lemon juice concentrate)
Ghee - 100 to 110 Ml
Almonds - 40 Gm 
Pistachios - 30 Gm 
Melon Seeds(Magaz) - 30 Gm
Water - 4-5 Cups 

Method:
Roast nuts and chop almonds and pistachios.

If you use saffron, soak it in little hot water and keep aside.
Dissolve sugar in 2 cups of water. 
Stir and boil for 5 minutes.
Mix arrowroot powder with sugar syrup.
Add 2-3 cups cold water to make a thin solution.
Strain through a sieve lined with muslin cloth.
Cook, stirring constantly with the wire whisker or wooden ladle, until the mixture thickens into a semi transparent gum.
Add lemon juice, food colour, optional fruit crush or saffron soaked in hot water.
Lemon juice/citric acid prevents sugar from crystalising. 
Keep stirring on medium heat, taking care not to char the contents.
When the mixture starts to stick to the base of the pan, add 1 tbsp ghee.
Keep stirring constantly with preferably a wooden ladle.
Now you can increase the heat to high.
Keep adding one tablespoon ghee every 3-5 minutes until the mass begins to foam, and forms sticky lump.
When stirring becomes difficult, the contents move with the ladle in one sticky mass and ghee oozes from the sides, switch off the flame.
Fold in the nuts. 
Pour into a greased tray. 
Smoothen with a greased spoon. 
Allow to cool completely.
This takes over 2-3 hours.
Cut into 1 inch squares and store in an airtight container.
Karachi Halwa with Lychee flavour
*As per flavours you choose, you can add these colours:
Strawberry/Raspberry/Cranberry - Red
Saffron - Orange Red
Pineapple - Yellow
Orange - Orange Red
Grape/Mixed Berry - Purple
Lychee flavour - No colouring
Plain(Without any added fruit pulp or flavouring) - Green 

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