Today’s Diwali recipe has to be a sweet and it is the famous Kasi Halwa. Halwa is a thick, luscious sweet made with a variety of ingredients along with ghee and dry fruits. Kasi Halwa is also called as Poosanikai Halwa as white pumpkin is used to make this sweet recipe. The first I ever heard and tasted this amazing halwa is during my wedding. I was intrigued by the name and was looking forward to try it ever since I read it on the menu and I was not disappointed 😀
Although I have had Kasi halwa in many weddings henceforth, I never attempted making it at home. For one, I thought it is too time consuming and I knew for sure it would require a lot of ghee. But then, I changed my mind as festivals are for indulging and gave in to make it for this year’s Diwali. It did take some time getting to the halwa consistency but I really didn’t have to use too much ghee. And that for me, was the winner.
Kasi Halwa is traditionally orangish red in color, especially when it is served hot during the weddings in a banana leaf. The hot melt in mouth halwa combined with the flavors of banana leaf would make it extraordinary. I had my orange food color ready but then decided against it and used saffron instead. The result was a beautiful golden color, all natural – thanks to saffron! 🙂 This halwa stores well for over ten days in the refrigerator and do check out the notes at the end of the recipe to know a few tricks. This recipe is courtesy our wedding food caterer 🙂
To make Kasi Halwa | Poosanikai Halwa
What I used –
- White Pumpkin Grated, 2 cups
- Sugar, 1 cup
- Cardamom Powder, ¼ tsp
- Saffron Strands, a few (optional)
- Ghee/Clarified Butter, 2 tbsp
- Fried Cashews Whole, 5-6
Prep Work –
1. Wash and peel off the skin of white pumpkin with no traces of green. Cut into smaller chunks and remove the seeds inside. Grate it finely. Squeeze of the additional liquid tightly and set aside two cups of pumpkin. Don’t discard the water as (it has medicinal benefits) it can be used for other purposes – check notes.
How I made –
1. In a thick bottomed pan, heat 1 tsp of ghee and add grated pumpkin. Fry on medium heat for 3-4 mins until the raw smell is gone. Add ¼ cup of the preserved pumpkin water or regular water and cook covered on a medium flame for 5-6 mins until pumpkin is soft and tender.
2. Slightly mash the cooked pumpkin. Add 1 cup of sugar and stir until it is dissolved. The mixture starts to turn watery. Add saffron strands. Keep stirring on low flame. Add 1 tsp of ghee at regular intervals and keep stirring.
3. As the mixture begins to thicken, add cardamom powder and on low flame keep cooking until it all comes together. As you stir, there would be small white dots forming on the pumpkin – remove from heat at this stage. On cooling down it hardens a bit.
4. Add fried cashews and serve warm! Store it in fridge for longer shelf life.
- White pumpkin leaves a lot of water, even while grating. This water can be used to make roti dough or can be consumed with a pinch of salt as pumpkin juice. Don’t discard this as it is good for health.
- Make sure the pumpkin is well cooked before adding sugar as it might not cook properly after adding sugar.
- Grate the pumpkin as fine as possible for fast cooking.
- Keep stirring the halwa after adding sugar and depending on the consistency, add ghee at regular intervals.
- Always cook it on low flame after adding sugar.
- Saffron is optional. Edible food color can also be used in its place.
- Stop cooling right after there are white spots over the pumpkin when you keep stirring. If you continue to cook, the halwa might become very hard once cooled down.
- For longer shelf life, store it in an air tight container in the refrigerator. While serving, add 1-2 tsp of water, mix well and microwave for 30-40 secs. Halwa comes back to its original consistency.