Assidat Al-Boubar/ Emirati Pumpkin Halwa
A delicious Emirati halwa made with pumpkin and whole wheat flour and middle eastern flavours. It's the perfect cozy dessert for the fall and winter.
Heavy bottom pan
- 500 grams Pumpkin/ Kaddu peeled and cubed
- 1/2 cup Sugar/ Cheeni
- 500 ml Water
- 1/2 cup Whole wheat flour/Aata
- 2 pinches Saffron strands/ Kesar plus more for serving (optional)
- 1 Cardamom pod/ Elaichi crushed
- 2 tsp Rose Water/ Gulabjal (Optionally use Rose essence, 2-3 drops)
- 2-3 tbsp Ghee/ Clarified Butter
Prepare the Pumpkin Puree
Start by washing and peeling the pumpkin. Cut it into cubes, not larger than an inch.
Transfer the cubed pumpkin with half a litre of water in a heavy bottomed pan and let it cook on medium high heat for 15-20 minutes. Cook till the pumpkin cubes become softer.
With a potato masher, mash the softened pumpkin cubes to break them down further. You will soon have a pumpkin puree. Once most of the water evaporates, add sugar, crushed saffron strands and pounded cardamom.
Cook till the sugar has dissolved. Now add the rose water or rose essence and mix it in. If you are not roasting the aata (explained below) simultaneously, take the pan off heat and keep aside.
Roasting the flour
Place a heavy bottomed kadhai on medium low heat. Once the kadhai is hot, tip in the aata and start moving it around the kadhai with a spoon or spatula.
The aata will slowly start to change colour and if you pay attention to it and keep stirring it, you'll see an even change in colour.
The aim here is to cook the flour till it becomes a pale golden brown or till you can smell its nutty aroma. You can take the kadhai off heat when you think the flour is almost the desired colour. Since the kadhai will stay hot for sometime, the flour will continue to roast. So you might have to still stir it frequently after you have taken the kadhai off heat.
Assembling the Emirati Pumpkin Halwa
Back in the pan with the pumpkin puree, ensure that the sugar has dissolved. Keep the pan on medium low heat and start adding the roasted aata/ flour spoon by spoon.
Mix the puree well with the roasted aata to avoid any lumps. Gradually add all the roasted flour and move the pumpkin halwa around the pan.
Now, add a tablespoon of ghee and mix well. If you feel that the halwa looks dry and all the flour isn't incorporated well in the pumpkin pureé, add a few extra teaspoons (not tablespoons!) of Ghee.
Once it is mixed well, take out the halwa in small bowls and glaze with half a teaspoon of ghee on each serving. Make sure to not wait for too long before serving as this ghee based dessert tastes best when it is warm.
Serve this delicious Assidat al boubar/ Emirati Pumpkin Halwa warm with some crushed saffron strands on top or even some date syrup for extra sweetness.
- Multitasking: There are two major parts to this recipe. The first is preparing the pumpkin where we cook it down till it becomes mushy. When the pumpkin is being cooked, you can start roasting the aata on the side. Just be careful to not burn the aata while roasting it. If you are not confident of handling multiple pots at the same time, I recommend, you cook the pumpkin first and then move to roasting the flour.
- The key to roasting any flour is to cook it on medium low or low heat and to pay attention to it by moving it around the kadhai. If the flour is not moved or stirred continuously in a hot kadhai, the bottom layer will start burning and you'll see the colour change. You can also read about this in our Kasaar recipe.
- Adapted from Sweet Middle East by Anissa Helou