Gajar ka halwa (Carrot halwa)

Name: Vijaya Pastala
Class Year: 1989
Country of Residence: India

Why is this recipe great? What’s its backstory? 

This is a quick and easy recipe of gajar ka halwa or carrot halwa which is typically prepared in the winter months when red carrots or what are known as “Delhi carrots” are in season. A festive dessert it is prepared during Diwali which is celebrated in winter. 

Traditionally, carrot halwa is boiled and cooked in milk with lots of ghee and is quite laborious with the carrots and milk constantly stirred until the milk is thick and the carrots are cooked. This recipe is basically a cheat version of the traditional carrot halwa – prepared and cooked with condensed milk or sweetened evaporated milk. My husband loves cooking the traditional version of carrot halwa, slaving over the stove, constantly stirring and fussing over the carrots boiling in milk. According to me, this quick and easy version tastes as good as the traditional version and is less work!!

Couple of tips – to get the perfect end result: 

  • Always use fresh carrots as they are juicy and sweet. Carrot halwa tastes great when prepared with red carrots – which come into season in India during the winter. We call them “Delhi carrots” and it’s one of the reasons that Gajar ka halwa is usually prepared in the winter. However, if you don’t have red carrots – use orange carrots or  any other colours!!
  • There is no extra sugar in the recipe, the condensed milk is already sweet. However, if you want it sweeter – add more condensed milk.
  • You decide on the toppings – I prefer raisins and almonds. My husband likes to add the whole shebang!! 
  • Always serve carrot halwa hot. It tastes even better with cold vanilla ice cream. 
  • This recipe serves 2 to 3 persons generously!!
Quick and Easy Gajar ka halwa  (Carrot halwa)

Serves 2-3. Takes approx. 40 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 5 large carrots – peeled and grated. 
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) 
  • ½ cup full cream or whole milk 
  • 1 can of condensed milk 
  • 1 teaspoon of cardamon powder or 4-6 cardamon pods seeds removed and powdered
  • 1 teaspoon of roasted cashews bits 
  • 1 teaspoon golden raisins 
  • 1 teaspoon of almond slivers 
  • 1 teaspoon of pistachios 

Utensil: Deep thick bottom pan or even a deep non-stick with lid will do. In India we use what is called a “kadai” or an Indian wok.

Instructions:

  1. Peel carrots and grate them finely. 
  2. Put carrots in the thick bottom pan, add ghee and sauté carrots till they are nice and soft. 
  3. Add milk and mix well – the milk is the first step to cooking the carrots. 
  4. Let the milk boil and stir occasionally. Watch the pan – make sure carrots cook uniformly and don’t burn at the bottom. 
  5. Simmer, stirring till the milk has evaporated completely. The carrots should also be almost cooked by then. 
  6. Add the condensed milk and mix well. 
  7. Let the carrots and condensed milk boil. Keep stirring making sure carrots are completely cooked and don’t burn at the bottom. While stirring, keep mixing and mashing till the milk evaporates completely. 
  8. Once milk is thick, add cardamom powder, cashews / almonds / raisins and mix.
  9. Serve immediately garnished with chopped pistachios.

Source: Not an invention – but a recipe that many Indian homes use

Source: iStockPhoto

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