A Diwali-inspired Almond and Pumpkin Fudge (Halwa)

Diwali is to India as Christmas is to the western world…

India’s well-known ‘festival of lights’, Diwali comes with all the fanfare of a holiday celebration; from dazzling firework displays and colorful storefront decorations, to the latest fashion reveals and mouthwatering array of pan-Indian culinary favorites and sweet treats known as ‘Mithai’.

Growing up, I was always enamored by one of the most symbolic elements of Diwali; the ‘Diyas’, oil lamps flickering in beautifully painted clay pots, that light up every home at this time of the year, signifying happiness and prosperity. For us too, Diwali meant doorways bright with these colorful ‘Diyas’, tons of fun fireworks…and a home filled with relatives and its ensuing chaos.

A simplistic explanation for lighting ‘Diyas’ or oil lamps for this occasion: Diwali celebrates the return of Prince Ram with his wife, Sita and brother, Laxman to their palace after a grueling exile and victorious battle. To celebrate their return and symbolize the victory of good over evil, homes and streets in the entire city of Ayodhya came alive with ‘Diyas’(oil lamps in clay pots.)

Gulab Jamun

Indian Sweets ‘Mithai’ gift box

Moving on to our other delicious Diwali must-have; the array of Indian sweets called ‘Mithai’ abundantly found in every home and at every market, especially at this time of the year. On Diwali, it is customary to present friends, family and business connections with an ornately decorated box of decadent, rich and colorful ‘Mithai’ or Indian sweets.

Turns out, putting on weight during the holidays is a global phenomenon & Diwali is no exception there…you see, authentic ‘Mithai’ uses ‘ghee’ better known as the Indian version of clarified butter (we’ve used butter to keep the recipe accessible to everyone.)

Today, we give you a simple and homemade ‘Mithai’ recipe; Diwali-inspired Almond and Pumpkin Fudge, also known as ‘Halwa’ or ‘Burfi’, using the seasonal convenience of fresh or store-bought pumpkin puree with warm Indian spice flavors like cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and the crunch of sliced almonds.

Colorful Indian clay platter

A Diwali-inspired Almond and Pumpkin Fudge (Halwa)

To me, the fudge-like ‘Halwa’ placed on paper cups look like ‘Diyas’ or oil lamps; sure to bring health, happiness and prosperity to your home.

Makes 12-14 pieces

pumpkin puree, almond sliced, semolina

Ingredients for Diwali-inspired Almond and Pumpkin Fudge (Halwa)

1 cup pumpkin puree
¼ cup sliced almond
1 tablespoon butter or ghee
3 tablespoons semolina or pasta flour or rawa
½ cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
3 whole cardamom seeds, crushed
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon nutmeg

Sliced almond for decorating
Mini muffin paper cups

Preferably in a non stick pan, melt the butter on a medium low heat. Add sliced almond and semolina/pasta flour/rawa to the butter. Cook stirring continuously for 3-5 minutes; the flour should roast but not burn.

Indian sweets, Mithai

Almond and Pumpkin Fudge (Halwa), in the pan

Stir in the milk, sugar, spices and pumpkin puree. Cook the fudge or ‘halwa’ on a medium low heat for 10-15 minutes till it reaches a soft fudge-like consistency. Taste for sugar at this stage and add more based on taste.

Using a mini ice-cream scoop or teaspoon, put small roundels of the warm soft-fudge ‘halwa’ in mini-muffin paper cups or directly on a serving platter. Tip: spray the ice-cream scoop or teaspoon with canola oil so the fudge slides off it easily. Top each fudge piece with a slice of almond.

This Diwali-inspired Almond and Pumpkin Fudge ‘Mithai’ can be served at room temperature or slightly warmed. Store in an airtight box at room temperature for 2-3 days.

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  1. says

    A belated happy Diwali! I used to live in a house owned by a very nice young Indian man, and when it was Diwali he decorated the house for us and brought us lovely sweetmeats… your post has brought back some lovely memories!

    • says

      Thanks Heather! Happy to hear that…I’m more of butternut squash fan, cant get enough of it in the fall and winter! This halwa though works so well with pumpkin puree, soft and melts-in-the-mouth:) hope you like you!

  2. says

    Happy Diwali dear Peri!!:) I loved reading about this special event, fireworks, visiting friends, getting together and sweets – you can’t ask more for a celebration:) Pumpkin halwa sounds so delicious – and amazingly, we call it helva too, make it with semolina in Turkish cuisine, especially in religious festivities- and looking lovely:) Have lovely one! xx Ozlem

    • says

      Thanks dear Ozlem, may the spirit of Diwali fill your home with light and happiness too:) yes, what more can we want from a celebration- good food and friends! I do remember our halwa-helva connection, and you know, the semolina element is a Parsi touch from a special festive halwa made with semolina! So many connections between our cuisines. XxPeri.

  3. says

    What beautiful looking diyas & delicious ingredients. I’m not too fond of pumpkin purée, wonder what might be a good substitute. Loved yr explanation happy diwali!!

    • says

      Thanks, I’ve had some of them for years, just love the colors:) I have lot of friends who aren’t pumpkin fans…I’d suggest butternut squash as a great alternative here, the flavors are less gourd like and sweeter:)thanks for your comments on the Diwali explanation…I was concerned it may have been too simplistic for the complexities of the Ramayana:) Happy Diwali to you & yours!

  4. says

    Peri this looks wonderful. I think I have all the ingredients except for the pasta flour. Thanks for more information on Diwali. I enjoy learning more about your traditions and their meaning. Will there be more recipes being posted?

  5. Hilla D. says

    God-send recipe through Peri !!! Needed a simple and easy recipe for our neighborhood
    Diwali potluck – this fits in perfectly :-)

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