Indian cuisine is well-known for its luscious curries and soft flatbreads. And it is not far behind when it comes to desserts, halwa being one of the most common sweets prepared in Indian households on special occasions. In fact, the other thing that India shares with its neighbouring nation, Pakistan, other than borders is this sweet food. Halwa is one dessert that brings the two nations together on a plate. A bowl of sooji halwa can be paired with poori for breakfast too. 

Also Read: Wait, What? Our Dear Halwa Has Turkish Roots?

Made with semolina (or sooji), the halwa is grainy yet soft in taste. One bite in and the halwa would melt in one’s mouth instantly. Starting off the week on a sweet note is a good idea and what would be a better way than to have a plate of halwa and poori as the first meal of the day. Although both nations equally enjoy their halwa, it is believed that the origins of this dish belong to the Middle-East. The name itself is derived from the Arabic word, hulw meaning sweet. The historical connections of halwa are far and wide. Some believe that it was invented by Suleiman, the emperor from Turkish land who assigned a designated place in his royal kitchen just for making this dessert. 

Then there are others who claim the roots of this sweet meat belong to Persia or even the Mughal era. Whatever may be the case, the good part is that both the neighbouring countries share a bowl of sooji halwa with slight differences. Halwa, which is a thick and sweet pudding, becomes light and breezy when made with sooji. The sooji is slightly coarsened and cooked along with sugar and ghee, filled with chopped nuts like almonds, pistachios and cashews.

What makes the Pakistani sooji halwa different from its Indian counterpart is the fact that it uses kewra water instead of milk to flavour the halwa. Kewra is obtained as an extract from distilled flowers and is similar to rose water in odour. The aromatic effect of the Pakistani sooji halwa is a result of the addition of this sweet and pleasant flavouring agent that is used in making the dessert. While the addition of milk thickens the halwa, it is the use of water and kewra that makes it light and tasty. 

Also, instead of granulated sugar, sugar syrup is added to the pudding to make it sweeter. This halwa is often paired with poori, a deep-fried puffed bread made with whole wheat dough. Crispy and hot, the pooris are fried until golden-brown and served alongside a rich and decadent halwa. In India, on the last day of fasts during Navratri, a combination of poori, halwa and chana is offered to the lord.