Mama’s Punjabi Recipes – Moong Di Daal Da Halwa (Moong Daal Halwa)


Halwa has existed for centuries in Asia, North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and the Jewish world. It refers to a dense, sweet confection that can be either slightly gelatinous, flour-based, typically suji (semolina) or the crumbling nut-butter based, usually made of tahini (sesame paste). Halwa can also be made with sunflower seeds, nuts, beans, lentils (like this recipe) or vegetables like carrots, pumpkins and squashes.

Halwa can be kept for a few days at room temperature without risk of spoilage. It is often eaten on special occasions or at religious ceremonies, but my family has a tradition of asking for suji halwa with blanched almonds on someone’s birthday. Of course, the first morsel must go to the in-house mandir (temple) to be blessed!

In Punjab, moong di daal da halwa has a unique appeal and is usually found everywhere during the winter months since it is high in calories and is supposed to keep the body warm. It is considered auspicious for Holi and Diwali and is even made for weddings.

The halwa is made with split, skinless yellow moong daal, and the preparation takes a lot of patience to saute the daal. There are three ways to make it: the original way, the faster way and the short cut, all dealing with the preparation.

In the original way, soak the daal for four or five hours and then place it in a grinder and make a coarse paste and then saute in ghee (clarified butter). The faster way is to boil the daal in just the right amount of water it will take to become tender; drain the water through a sieve, saute and then add the same water back. The shortcut is to use moong daal flour and prepare like suji halwa by sauteing but the taste is no way close to the other two methods. I know since I have tried all three ways and found the boiling method to be quite good. That’s what this recipe is based on.


•  1 cup moong daal (split, skin less yellow daal)

•  5 cups tanda pani (cold water)

•  1 cup tael (olive oil; some may prefer ghee or clarified butter)

•  1 cup chinni (sugar)

•  Mewa (dried fruits) to taste: dhule badam (blanched almonds), piste (pistachios), kishmish (raisins), akharod       (walnuts)


 1. Place the daal and 3 cups of water in a medium sized wok and bring to a boil. When the daal is tender, drain the water through a sieve and keep it for the rest of the recipe.

2. Place the sugar in 2 cups of cold water in a small saucepan, let it come to a boil and then set aside. If you prefer a sweeter dish, then add ¼ cup more sugar.

3. Put the daal back in the wok with the olive oil and let it roast till it becomes slightly brown. When you see traces of oil come to the sides of the wok, then add the syrup water and stir continuously till the water begins to dry up.

4. Turn the heat to low and when you see oil rise to the sides, then turn off the heat. Sprinkle the dry fruit on the top of the halwa before serving.

mamas recipe inside3Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur, India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes.