The culinary journey I took as a food researcher led me to sample as many as seven variations of this winter speciality, when tender ginger shoots are in season. Originally cooked by khansamas for nawabs, adrak halwa is now only prepared by halwais. This is hardly surprising since, although the process is rather straightforward albeit rather laborious, timing is everything. Add an ingredient a tad late, or slacken the pace at which you stir, and the halwa might not be as appetising as you’d like it to be.
Here I share a recipe translated from Shahi Dastarkhwan by Latafat Ali Khan Rampuri. Prep and cooking of the Rampuri adrak halwa will take about 2 hours.
For the halwa
|Young ginger shoots||500 grams|
|Fresh cream||125 grams|
|Green cardamom||5-6 pods|
|Black cardamom||2 pods|
|Kewra water||3-4 drops|
|Almonds, julienned||50 grams|
What You Will Need
Tools you will need include a sil-batta or a mixer grinder, a sieve, a pan in which to cook the halwa, a spatula for vigorous stirring, and other utensils typically available in your kitchen.
Soak the saffron strands in ¼ cup of warm water for at least 10 minutes.
Blanch the almonds in boiling water, strain out the water, and make a paste out of it in the mixer grinder.
Beat the fresh cream until it is smooth and fluffy.
Wash the ginger well, peel it, and soak it in water for about 15 minutes to soften it.
Grind the ginger into a fine paste using a sil-batta. You can also use a mixer grinder but ensure that the paste is smooth, with no fibres.
On the side, add kewra water to the saffron.
Heat ghee in a pan, add the cardamom, and fry for a few seconds. Set aside.
Mix the ginger paste in half a cup of milk, and boil it on low heat until the ginger becomes tender.
Add sugar and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. The sugar should completely dissolve, and the mixture should start bubbling.
Add khoya, and almond paste. Continue to cook on low heat, stirring until the halwa starts changing colour.
Sauté, adding splashes of a blend of milk and ghee to ensure the halwa doesn’t burn, until all of the milk and ghee has been added.
When it becomes dark golden, and thick so that it drops in thick blobs from the spoon, add the saffron and kewra water. Remove from heat.
Garnish with almonds.
You can store the halwa for up to 10 days in the refrigerator.
You can reduce the sugar in the recipe if you would like it to be less sweet.
The more health-conscious can bring down the ghee to 300 g.
Dr. Tarana Husain Khan is a writer and food historian based in Rampur. Her articles on Rampur cuisine, culture and oral history have appeared in Eaten Magazine, Al Jazeera, Scroll, The Wire, Open Magazine and DailyO. Her book on Rampur cuisine, ‘Rampuri Cuisine: Food History, Memories and Recipes’, will be published by Penguin India in 2022. She is currently working on a Global Challenges Research Fund and Arts and Humanities Research Council funded research project, ‘Forgotten Food: Culinary Memory, Local Heritage and Lost Agricultural Varieties in India’. She also curated the Forgotten Foods series of articles on Scroll for the project and is currently co-editing an anthology ‘Forgotten Foods: a Culinary Journey Through Muslim South Asia’.
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