Saturday, June 7, 2014

Flour Halwa with Dried Cranberries

The Islamic calender is based on a lunar cycle having 12 lunar months in a year of about 354 days. Islamic holy days usually shift 11 days earlier each successive solar year, such as a year of the Gregorian calendar even though these holy days are celebrated on fixed dates in their own calendar. 

Well, if you are not familiar to the Islamic calendar at all, this piece of information may sound a bit complicated. Even if you were born into a Muslim family and grew up in a neighbourhood where religious holidays were celebrated in a festive atmosphere for days and nights, the astronomical considerations concerning when to start the celebrations are always confusing and accordingly a big issue to talk about.

I remember, years and years ago, my mother saying once "I was a young girl, 18 or 19 I think, and it was the holy month of Ramadan and everybody was fasting. It must have been mid-summer because it was boiling outside and we would avoid stepping out of the house. It was scorching. Well, I'll be fasting again in mid-summer in my early 50s." Back then, my mother's words, which were totally based on the fact that that holy days on the Islamic calendar shift 11 days earlier each successive solar year, sounded like a prophesy, a glimpse into the distant future. I was simply enchanted. Actually, it kept be busy quite some years wondering how my mother was able to tell exactly when she would be fasting in the same season once again in a few seconds. I also started to imagine and so look forward to those prophesied days to arrive because by then I would have known that my mother's prediction came true, she was in her mid 50s and I was now a young woman! Later on, I was taught how to deal with such calculations when it comes to the Islamic months and I came to realise how my mother did the magic. 

However, I've been under the effect of my mother's magic for years still. It's been kind of a purest hope placed under a pillow deep down in my subconsciousness. It's laid under the very pillow I sleep on every night. I've been waiting for years to pass by to witness that my mother's prophesy has come true and yes it has come true. My mother is 52 years old and we are going to fast this summer in Ramadan starting in late June and ending in late July. Magical, isn't it?

250 grams butter
2 cups flour
2.5 milk
1.5 cups granulated sugar
100 grams dried cranberries
cinnamon, optional 
vanilla extract


1. Take a pan and heat it over medium heat for 1 minute.
2. Add the butter and melt it. 
3. Sieve the flour into the pan and stir constantly over low heat until it turns golden brown. It takes more than half an hour. Keep calm and carry on!
4. Meanwhile, pour in milk into another pan. Add in vanilla extract and sugar. Stir until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat.
5. Pour the milk-sugar mixture onto the roasted flour very slowly and continue stirring constantly over medium heat.
6. When the mixture boils and then gets thicker in consistency, remove the pan from heat.
7. Stir in the cranberries. Let it cool with the lid on for 10 minutes.
8. Shape the halwa using a wet tablespoon or an ice-cream scoop.
9. Sprinkle with cinnamon before you serve (optional.)

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