5 South Indian Halwas That Are Drenched In Decadence
Image Credit: Tirunelveli Halwa also known as Karupati Halwa Image credit: Shutterstock

While we are ardent fans of the popular milk pudding Payasam ourselves, it is cruel to watch other desserts not getting their due praise. From the soft and sinful Mysore Pak to the crunchy Boorelu of Andhra, there’s a whole gamut of desserts here that will make you want to cheat on your diet EVERYDAY. For all of you who think ‘Halwa’ is a very ‘North Indian’ concept? Well, think again, there are countless varieties of Halwas in South India, some of which go centuries back in time. 

Here are 5 types of South Indian Halwas you should add to your bucket list  

1. Tirunelveli Halwa

Dark and decadent, Tirunelveli Halwa is also referred to as Iruttu Kadai Halwa by some. ‘Iruttu Kadai’ means dimly lit, back in the day, much before the advent of electricity, shopkeepers would use diyas or clay lamps as a light source. This halwa would sell like hot cakes in a shop in Tirunelveli that was always dark or dimly lit . This is how the name ‘Iruta Kadai’ stuck around. The Halwa’s association with ‘darkness’ doesn’t end here. The halwa itself is of rich black colour made with red wheat and is allowed to cook in milk extracted from wheat. Since it is slow cooked in ghee, it rarely loses its sheen or softness. It is sweetened with palm jaggery and not refined sugar, making it denser and more wholesome.  Here's the recipe.

2. Muscoth Halwa

This Halwa that was popularised in Tamil Nadu’s Madalur by Jospeh Abraham and his son J Jeyaseelan is said to be inspired by a dessert Joseph had in Sri Lanka. He developed the dessert further and came up with the popular Muscoth Halwa. ‘Muscoth’ in Sinhalese means ‘coconut milk’. In his Muscoth Halwa Joseph mixed wheat flour with coconut milk, sugar and cashew powder. Muscoth Halwa celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019. Here's the recipe.

3. Rava Kesari

Suji ka halwa gets a rich makeover with a hint of saffron here, it also obtains a melt-in-mouth quality. Rava Kesari is one of the most popular after-meal desserts in parts of Andhra Pradesh and even Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.  Here's the recipe. 

4. Asoka Halwa

Made of moong dal, wheat, cashews, raisins and oodles of ghee, this luscious Halwa hailing from Thanjavur is as popular for its velvety texture as for its vibrant colour. Just like the Moong Dal Halwa of North, Ashok Halwa is also a crowd pleaser.  Here's the recipe. 

5. Semiya Kesari

A thicker cousin of Semiya Payasam, Semiya Kesari is a delicious dessert made with vermicelli, ghee, sugar and saffron. Milk is removed and semolina is added to give it the Halwa like texture.  Here's the recipe.