Soji or semolina pudding is a traditional Durban Indian dish that is made and served as a dessert. It is sold in local Indian restaurants or it can be prepared at home. The preparation of soji can be done by both men and women and is generally not used as a particular offering to Hindu deities during prayers.
The history of soji dates back to the arrival of Indian settlers in Durban and it has carried over through generations because of the practical preparation of the dessert. It was a cheap and easy indulgence and thus it became an affordable dessert. Indians came from a predominantly agricultural land, it was in their interests to create their own variations of milling products, and from wheat flour, they created soji – a wheat pudding. Since Indians believe in balance and most of their cuisines are spicy, the idea of a ‘sweet’ was the perfect way to reach an equilibrium.
In local Durban functions such as weddings and ceremonies, soji is served traditionally as a sweet after serving the main meal – generally breyani – to guests. It can be prepared by using either semolina or Tasty Wheat. Soji is generally white in colour but food colouring can be used. It is usually served at weddings as a yellow treat.
500g semolina or Tasty Wheat
2 sticks cinnamon
1 litre boiling water
½ tin condensed milk
1 tin nestle cream (optional)
1ml ground nutmeg
30g raisins (optional)
5ml cardamon powder (elachi powder)
1 teaspoon food colouring
Heat a thick base saucepan, add the semolina and fry until it is brown.
Stir continuously to prevent the semolina from burning.
Empty the browned semolina into a bowl and keep aside.
Melt butter into the saucepan, add the two cinnamon sticks to the butter. Stir continuously for approximately 2 minutes.
Add the brown fried semolina to the heated pot and stir, mixing it well with the melted butter.
Add the boiling water, salt and stir well. Allow to simmer on low heat till all the water evaporates and the semolina is well puffed out.
Add the condensed milk, the sugar and the cream if opted for, and mix well.
Add food colouring if desired.
Sprinkle the nutmeg, cardamon powder and the almonds and mix well. Leave on low heat till ready to serve.
By: Yoveshine Pillay