Singhada is the Hindi name for Water Chestnuts.
A halwa made with the flour of this dried nut is a delicacy in the central parts of India. These nuts are a good source of potassium and fiber, overall rich in carbohydrates. The Chinese use this nut (a false nut) in various ways, I have seen them making a slurry of it's flour and some sweet fudge like dish in a TV show but didn't remember the name of the dish. There should be a Chinese recipe similar to this halwa somewhere. Let me know if you have come across any. I would keep looking for and let you all know whenever I succeed.
The dried Water Chestnuts are sold in the market during Navratri in my part of the world. The fresh ones are available in season only.
I used to buy them whole and get the flour made in my trusted mixie. Milled at home, the flour is a lovely white color, a fresh aroma and the best taste possible. The flour available in the market is not always good quality and dull in color and almost no aroma of water chestnuts. It has a specific nutty aroma which enhances when you fry or roast the flour with ghee. So get the whole water chest nut if possible, break them into smaller pieces using a mortar and pestle and then mill them in whatever machine you have. Once broken in smaller bits, the dried water chestnuts become very easy to powder.
When buying Water Chestnut flour, take care to watch the color, it should be light and slightly aromatic. Discard the flour if it smells rancid.
(for about a dozen squares)
Singhade ka atta (Water Chestnut flour) 150 gm
ghee 2 tbsp or more if you wish
sugar 2 tbsp (or more if you like it sweeter, my version is mildly sweet)
water 1 cup approximately
Heat the ghee in a kadai and tip in the Singhada flour in it.
Some lumps of flour may be difficult to break if you are using less ghee like I did, just use your spatula to break them and keep stirring continually for about 5-8 minutes for this quantity.
Lower the flame better the results, though it might take some more time. Using a thick base kadai helps.
Now add water and sugar and start mixing the resulting slurry in circular motion.
It would feel like a batter first and then would start getting thicker, resisting the circular motion of your spatula. Go on mixing and breaking any lumps that might have been left.
Once the halwa gets thicker, still not looking set, and has a sheen to the surface, pour the contents in a steal plate or thaali.
Pat the lump of halwa with the spatula to flatten it. Wait for a couple of minutes till it gets set.
This halwa squares keep well in the fridge but do not taste very good when chilled. So warm them in your microwave when required.
These are great snacks for kids too and can be good for their tiffin boxes as there is no fear of leaking liquids and there is much ease in handling this kind of food.
Have you ever tasted this halwa?
This is a regular feature of UP kitchens during Navratri. People have it with a glass of milk for breakfast or for any meal of the day as there are many restrictions and some people don't even eat any kind of salt. So this halwa made with minimal sweetening becomes a staple food for some.
The halwa can be made even without a trace of ghee. Just roast the flour without any ghee almost the same way demonstrated here, on low flame and then proceed with the next steps. The Water chestnut flour gels well when poured in a plate and you get perfect squares or diamonds.
Ghee makes is richer and a little complex in taste. This halwa is anyways a simple recipe to put together. With minimal ingredients.
And you wouldn't want that if you have ever tasted a good Singhade ka halwa.
Another Water Chestnut halwa made using the fresh green nuts is a much flavorful recipe. I make that one often whenever we get fresh Singhada. You can see the recipe posted here on this blog.
Some folks I know observe the fasting days just for these goodies.
Would you do that too ?