Winter comfort - Carrot Halwa

As the winter months of November and December draw near in India, one can see mounds of plump carrots in vegetable markets, eye catching in all their orange glory amidst the green. The most popular and beloved dish made with carrots is the carrot halwa.

It is a perennial favorite at all feasts, particularly wedding buffets. Though caterers experiment with everything from Chinese to Italian today, carrot halwa still holds it's pride of place among desserts. Carrot halwa with vanilla ice cream = a marriage budget well spent! A bite of warm, rich, gooey halwa with cold vanilla ice cream is heavenly, as most people will agree.

As with any popular dish, there are several versions of this dessert. My version has khoya (dried milk) in it. Khoya (or mawa) is used in a lot of Indian desserts to get a creamier taste. Over the years I tried several ways of making this halwa but I never quite managed to recreate the authentic mithai-shop kind of taste. Then I read in a magazine how the carrots ought to be sauteed over high heat and voila, I had the real deal. No more experimenting for me!

It is a slightly labor intensive recipe what with the constant stirring, but believe me the end result will more than compensate for it. In fact you might just give a Bollywood 'maa' a run for her 'haath ka gajar halwa' :-)


GAJJAR HALWA (Carrot Pudding)
(for 2-3 portions)
2 cups grated carrots
4 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
2 tsp khoya crumbled (optional) *
1/2 tsp green cardamom powder
a handful of cashews chopped
2 tsp Ghee

Heat a teaspoon of ghee in a sauce pan. Fry cashews till they are golden. Remove and keep aside.

Combine milk, carrots and cardamom powder in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Turn heat to medium high and cook until milk is completely absorbed.

Add sugar and stir until it dissolves and carrots get a glaze. Spoon remaining ghee into pan and saute over medium high heat. Mix in khoya and stir until you can collect halwa in a ball. Remove from fire.

Garnish with cashews and serve warm.
* You don't need to make a huge quantity of khoya for this halwa. Microwave 3 tablespoons of condensed milk, 1 teaspoon of ghee and 1 teaspoon of yogurt for 2 minutes (checking after 30 second intervals). Chill until ready to use.
* For carrot kheer bring milk to a boil but don't let it reduce entirely


Tags: carrot kheer payasam gajar ka halwa halva


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The carrots we get back in India are really sweet. The ones we get here are totally bland! So my carrot halwa fails miserably. But I think with your recipe,it might come allright.Should try it! Thanks.

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The recipe sounds excellent. To have a light yet sweet taste, try omitting khoya and substitute sugar with honey. It will need a lot of honey but the end result is amazing... it also avoids the problem that sometimes occurs when the sugar results in a slightly crystalline feel. One can add approx a cup of thick honey, adding more as required.

5:06 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Honey in carrot halwa sounds really intriguing...thanks for the tip Anon. Will give it a try next time around coz I happen to like honey based desserts a lot.

5:24 PM  
Blogger K.Boy said...

Comment on Carrot Halwa lost first time.

2:21 PM  
Blogger K.Boy said...

I goofed or did not follow your recipe last week when my C.H. became choco brow. May be heat was too intense (how long?) for those tender Carrot threads. Anyway, I saved only choco coated Kajus (Yummy and tasty thogh!) and dumped the rest.
I the past several attempts, only one time was successful on slow cooking teflon coated piza pan (electric) and I could control the heat slowwwww cooking without worrying for stirring.
Anyway, thanks for the recipe as I do not enjoy half cooked C.H. served in those NI restaurants in US cities.

7:18 PM  

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