Suji ka halwa - sweet semolina porridge

Suji ka halwa - sweet semolina porridge

If you live up north, you know that January is considered one of the bleakest times during the winter months and nothing to me is more comforting than a warm breakfast to wake me up and make me feel cozy. When I was little, I looked forward to having a warm bowl of suji ka halwa (also known as suji or sooji shorthand in many Bengali households) – a sweet semolina porridge – on Sunday mornings. Flavored with warming spices like cardamom and cinnamon and sweetened with coconut and raisins, this dish is the equivalent of having pancakes in many South Asian homes. 

I have fond memories of having suji as a kid, and I was craving it one weekend when New York City was forecasted to have a major snowstorm, which never happened. Nevertheless, I whipped up a big bowl of suji for me and my boyfriend – he absolutely loved it. If you’re itching to try a warm bowl of porridge that isn’t made of oatmeal, consider this recipe.

It takes about 30 minutes to make and it’s a big crowd-pleaser. 

About the ingredients 

Semolina flour: Semolina is a type of flour made from durum wheat. It is used to make couscous, pasta, and sweet puddings. It's rich in protein, fiber, and B vitamins. 

Ghee or butter: Traditionally, suji is made with ghee, a clarified butter. But if you don’t have ghee, you can also use unsalted butter, which I did for this recipe. I use a full stick of butter in this recipe, but don’t be alarmed, this recipe feeds about 4 to 6 people. 

Spices: Adding warming spices is essential for this dish. I use cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and dry ginger. Nutmeg and a little star anise might also be yummy.

Sugar syrup: To cook the semolina flour, you will need to hydrate it with water, similar to pasta or grain. For this recipe, I dissolve ⅔ cup of sugar into two and a half cups of water to make the sugar syrup. 

Fruits and nuts: I like adding texture to my suji, so I add in fruits like coconut and raisins for sweetness and texture. I also like to add a bit of protein by throwing in hemp seeds and sliced almonds at the end of cooking the suji.

What is semolina flour?

Semolina is a type of grain made from durum wheat. In Bangladesh, people refer to it as suji (or sooji) and they commonly use it to make a porridge, also called suji. In Indian households, it is referred as rava. The scientific name of durum wheat is Triticum Durum and is a widely used cereal crop in the Mediterranean region.  Semolina contains 360 calories and no cholesterol per 100 grams, which can help you feel full. It is high in fiber and magnesium, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve the risk of type 2 diabetes. The fiber in semolina can help your digestive system function, which can make it easier to digest food. Additionally, semolina contains selenium and folate. It also contains about 8% of your daily iron requirement per cup. 

Recipe: Suji (rava) – sweet semolina porridge

  • Serves 4 to 6 
  • Cook time: 30 minutes

Suji cooked in pan


  • 1 cup of semolina flour 
  • ⅔ cup of sugar 
  • 2 and ½ cups of filtered water 
  • 1 stick of butter or 10 tablespoons of ghee (unsalted)
  • 1 cardamon pod crushed 
  • ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon 
  • Pinch of dry ginger powder 
  • Pinch of clove powder 
  • ½ cup of unsweetened shredded coconut (optional)
  • ⅓ cup of raisins (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon of hemp seeds (optional)
  • ⅓ cup of sliced almonds
  • Pinch of salt 


Bring a small pot up to medium heat and add in your water and sugar. Stir until sugar is fully dissolved and set aside on low heat on the back burner. 

Sugar water syrup

In a heavy bottom pot, like cast iron or ceramic, melt a stick of butter or add your ghee on medium-low heat. If using butter, let the butter get foamy and bubbly before adding in your semolina flour. 

Foamy butter in pan

Toast the semolina flour for 5 to 8 minutes on medium-low heat, constantly stirring. Don’t over toast. It should be fragrant smelling before you start adding your spices. 

Semolina in butter

Once the semolina flour has toasted in the butter, add in your spices and let them heat up, stirring constantly.  

Semolina toasted in butter with spices

Add in your coconut flakes and stir. 

Adding shredded coconut
Once everything is coated in butter and toasted, slowly add in your sugar water a ladle at a time, like you’re making risotto. You want the semolina flour to have time to soak up the warm sugar liquid. As you add your water to the semolina mixture, make sure to stir constantly. 

Semolina and water cooking in pan

When you have added ¾ of your sugar-water mixture into the semolina flour, add in your raisins and then pour in the rest of your sugar-water. This will help the raisins get pump and juicy. 

Raisins and sugar water added to semolina

When all the water has been absorbed by the semolina mixture, add in your hemp seeds and sliced almonds or whatever nuts you want to add. It’s common to also add cashews to this dish. 

Hemp seeds and almonds added to cooked semolina porridge

Add a pinch of salt, I use Himalayan pink salt, and stir everything together one last time before serving the suji up warm. 

Cooked semolina porridge

Garnish with a little more almonds and dig in while the porridge is still steaming. This dish can last in the refrigerator for 3 days and reheats nicely in the microwave. 

Suji served up

Did you make this recipe? Let me know what you think by adding your comments below! 

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