This wonderfully fragrant & rich dessert makes a perfect ending to any Indian meal.
Moong Dal Halwa is a traditional Indian dessert, usually made for special occasions such as weddings and religious celebrations.
It is made using whole green mung beans (green gram), ghee, and flavoured with cardamom and saffron. The result is a delicious rich, melt in the mouth, fragrant dessert which is a perfect ending to any Indian meal.
Green mung beans
Mung beans can be either green or yellow. They are green with their skins, and yellow without.
This halwa can be made with either type of bean. I used green mung beans (with their skin on), for the beautiful rich green colour.
The beans have a mild, earthy flavour and after cooking, soften and become very easy to digest. They are highly nutritious as they are low in fat and high in protein and fibre.
Soaking mung beans
First rinse the beans, then soak them for 3-4 hours. This softens the beans and helps reduce the cooking time.
TIP: Make sure the dal is fresh and within its best before date, as old dal does not soften when soaked and will not become tender when cooked.
Drain the beans, reserving some of the water to blend to a smooth paste. I sometimes leave it a little coarse as I quite like a chewy texture.
To make the Halwa, mung beans are first cooked in ghee and then a spiced sugar syrup. They carry the strong flavours of the cardamom and saffron extremely well.
Spiced sugar syrup
Prepare the sugar syrup by bringing the water to a boil with the sugar, cardamom and saffron. Stir till all the sugar has dissolved, then remove the cardamom pods and set the syrup aside.
Preparing the halwa
Melt the ghee in a large non-stick skillet. I use my large Lodge cast iron skillet as it is so well seasoned, nothing sticks to it!
Add the mung bean paste and stir continuously to ensure even cooking , taking care that no lumps are formed, and to prevent the halwa from sticking to the pan. If it becomes dry, add a little water.
Once it is lightly browned (after around 20 minutes), pour in the sugar syrup. Stir till most of the liquid is absorbed but the halwa is still moist.
Khoya and a substitute
Khoya is used a great deal in the preparation of Indian sweets. It is made from the milk solids which remain after simmering a large amount of milk for a long period of time.
It is usually available from shops selling Indian sweets. In the very likely event that you do not have any on hand, ricotta cheese is a great substitution.
Add a couple of tablespoons to the halwa and mix through thoroughly, then garnish with crushed roasted almonds.
The halwa tastes best served warm.
Moong Dal Halwa will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Add a tiny amount of milk when reheating and serve it warm.
More Indian desserts to try
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Green Moong Dal Halwa
- 1 cup green mung beans
- 3 tablespoons ghee
- 2 cups water
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 cardamom pods smashed
- a pinch saffron strands
- 2 tablespoons khoya or ricotta
- 5 almonds roasted and crushed (optional)
Prepare the mung beans
- Rinse and soak the mung beans for a minimum of 4 hours.
- Drain the beans, reserving approximately 3 tablespoons of the water, and blend to a slightly coarse paste.
- Bring the water to a boil with the sugar, cardamom pods and saffron, stirring to ensure the sugar dissolves. Once it starts to boil, turn off the heat, remove the cardamom pods and set aside.
For the halwa
- In a large non-stick skillet, on medium heat, melt the ghee and add the bean paste.
- Stir continuously to prevent the paste from clumping or sticking to the pan. Continue until it is lightly browned.
- Pour the sugar syrup into the paste, and keep stirring till the liquid is absorbed and the halwa is moist.
- Stir in the khoya (or ricotta) and turn off the heat. Garnish with crushed roasted almonds (optional) and serve warm.
- Make sure the dal is fresh and within its best before date, as old dal does not soften when soaked and will not become tender when cooked.
- Soaking softens the beans and reduces the cooking time.
- Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
- Add a little milk when reheating. Serve warm.