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Apple and Pineapple Semolina Halava Pudding

Semolina halava is the most popular dessert served at any of the Hare Krishna restaurants worldwide. This version of the famous hot, fluffy pudding with pineapple and apples rates high in the "halava-top-ten". I have cooked halava for 4 or 5 persons and for 1500 persons; either way, following the same basic steps yields equally stunning results.

The secret of good halava is to roast the semolina very slowly for at least 20 minutes, with enough butter so as not to scorch the grains. Steam the finished halava over very low heat with a tight-fitting lid for 5 minutes to fully plump the semolina grains; then allow it to sit covered for another 5 minutes. Fluffy, plump grained halava is best served hot, on its own, or with a spoonful of cream or custard. Serves 6 - 8 persons, or a couple of halava addicts.

  • 2½ cups water
  • 1¼ cups raw sugar
  • 140 g unsalted butter, or ghee (1 ounce = 28.35 grams)
  • 1¼ cups coarse-grained semolina (farina) - the more coarse the better
  • ½-3/4 cup stewed apple, drained
  • ½-3/4 cup ripe pineapple pieces, drained

Combine the water and sugar in a 2-litre saucepan. Place over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to very low and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Don't allow any water to evaporate from the syrup.

Melt the butter or ghee in a 2- or 3-litre non-stick saucepan and over fairly low heat, stirring occasionally. Add the semolina. Slowly and rhythmically stir-fry the grains until they darken to a tan colour and become aromatic (about 20 minutes). Stirring more carefully towards the end, raise the heat under the grains.

Raise the heat under the sugar water and bring the syrup to a rolling boil.

Remove the saucepan of semolina and butter from the heat, slowly pouring the hot syrup into the semolina, stirring steadily. The grains may at first splutter, but will quickly cease as the liquid is absorbed.

Return the pan to the stove and stir steadily over low heat until the grains fully absorb the liquid, start to form into a pudding-like consistency, and pull away from the sides of the pan. Place a tight-fitting lid on the saucepan and cook over the lowest possible heat for 2 more minutes. Turn off the heat, fold in the two fruits and allow the halava to firm up, covered and off the heat, for an additional 5 minutes. Serve hot in dessert bowls as it is, or with the toppings suggested above.

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