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Poosanikai Halwa | Ash Gourd Pudding

Poosanikai halwa which is also popularly known as Kasi halwa is a traditional south Indian dessert recipe made with ash gourd, sugar and ghee as the main ingredients and cardamom and saffron for the flavour and colour. Served as part of the wedding feast, this poosanikai halwa has my heart. This is my humble attempt to recreate the childhood memories of numerous Kalyana mandap sapaddu halwa that my mom willingly shared with me. :-P 

Poosanikai Halwa | Ash Gourd Pudding

I made this halwa during the initial lockdown days when every routine had gone topsy-turvey with no clarity about the future. Like most of you, I took comfort in food and my memories just dived right into wedding halls as a child holding my mom's pallu at the long table. Banana leaves were placed for each which mom wiped clean with the water from the tumbler. And then came the array of dishes all one by one... I was only looking forward to the dessert. Payasam and then this orangish halwa which I had no idea what it was made of nor what it is called but I simply LOVED it. 

I love it so much that I was thrilled that my sister was getting married in Coimbatore itself and guess what? the halwa was on the menu! That was the last time I had and it was almost 10 years ago! So to bring life to my cravings, I asked mom for the recipe but she was not sure, then I googled and tried Rak's Kitchen recipe. But for the second time around, I skipped some of her steps and made it easier as I never understood why we had to squeeze out the water only to add back? 

Ash gourd, winter melon, kumbalanga, poosanikai are the names for this vegetable. I already introduced winter melon through my delicious bong dish, chal kumaro diye muger dal which is a flavourful side for rotis and rice! The ingredients for this poosanikai halwa are simple but for any simple recipe the technique matters! Thankfully there is no syrup consistency science involved in this recipe! 🤣 So you won't go wrong unless you do one fatal mistake - adding sugar before ash gourd is cooked - then you have no chance to revive. 

How to make ash gourd halwa or Poosanikai Halwa? 

Time-consuming but easy! Remove the skin and any seed parts of the gourd. Then grate the ash gourd using a grater so that it is even. Don't be tempted to add to processor or mixie, you will juice it. Fry some cashews and then cook the grated ash gourd sauteing often until cooked through. This will take time. Then add sugar and flavourings like cardamom and saffron strands and cook until the halwa starts to thicken and leave the sides of the pan. I also add a pinch of turmeric powder for enhancing the colour. Generally, they add artificial colour like orange or yellow. Stir in the fried cashews and serve warm or cold.
 
Poosanikai Halwa | Ash Gourd Pudding

Heat some of the ghee in a non-stick kadai or saucepan over a medium flame. Fry the cashews until they turn golden brown in colour, remove and keep aside for later. 
Poosanikai Halwa | Ash Gourd Pudding

Add the grated ash gourd and keep sauteing until all the water evaporates and the ash gourd is completely soft and cooked through. This step takes a lot of time so do not hurry by increasing the flame. But don't hesitate do add water if it dries up but is not cooked through. You should not add sugar until you are fully convinced that the grated ash gourd is cooked completely. You can do it by tasting a small bit. 
Poosanikai Halwa | Ash Gourd Pudding

Poosanikai Halwa | Ash Gourd Pudding

Once you are absolutely sure that all of the greater ash gourd is cooked - which took me more than 30 mins you can reach for the sugar. Stir in the sugar, cardamom powder, turmeric powder and a few saffron strands. Keep stirring until all the sugar melts and the halwa thickens. 
Poosanikai Halwa | Ash Gourd Pudding

Add any remaining ghee. You may add more ghee if you find it dry. Taste and add more sugar if required. Continue stirring the halwa on low to medium flame until it starts to leave the sides of the pan. Stir in the fried cashews and transfer to the serving bowl. Serve warm or cold.


Poosanikai Halwa | Ash Gourd Pudding

Poosanikai Halwa Recipe | Ash Gourd Pudding Recipe

Serves 3 to 4 
Cooking Time: 1 hour

INGREDIENTS

3 to 4 tablespoons ghee
10 to 12 cashew nuts 
2 to 3 cups grated ash gourd (white pumpkin, poosanikai, kumbalanga)
3/4 cup sugar 
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder 
a pinch of turmeric powder for colour
a few saffron strands, crushed
water, if required

METHOD

  1. Heat some of the ghee in a non-stick kadai or saucepan over a medium flame.
  2. Fry the cashews until they turn golden brown in colour, remove and keep aside for later. 
  3. Add the grated ash gourd and keep sauteing until all the water evaporates and the ash gourd is completely soft and cooked through. This step takes a lot of time so do not hurry by increasing the flame. But don't hesitate do add water if it dries up but is not cooked through. You should not add sugar until you are fully convinced that the grated ash gourd is cooked completely. You can do it by tasting a small bit. 
  4. Stir in the sugar, cardamom powder, turmeric powder and a few saffron strands. 
  5. Keep stirring until all the sugar melts and the halwa thickens. Add any remaining ghee. You may add more ghee if you find it dry. Taste and add more sugar if required.
  6. Continue stirring the halwa on low to medium flame until it starts to leave the sides of the pan.
  7. Stir in the fried cashews and transfer to the serving bowl.
  8. Serve warm or cold.
Poosanikai Halwa | Ash Gourd Pudding

If you don't have the time to make this, then do try my quick and easy Rava Kesari, a south Indian semolina pudding

TRIED THIS RECIPE?

I would love to hear from you. If you have made this recipe then please do leave a comment below. If you like this recipe then please do share the recipe with your friends and family on Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Please do follow me on Instagram and mention @butfirstchaai or tag #butfirstchai so that I can see your creations!

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