A large bowlful of warm Gajar ka Halwa aka Carrot Halwa and a good thriller: it was the scene at my home for past one week whenever I got some free time in hands. Not to mention it’s Vegan Carrot Halwa as you already know I’m lactose intolerant.
Recently I noticed I’ve penned down so many times about my feelings towards winter but I never mentioned anything about Gajar ka Halwa (only a tiny mention in Beetroot Halwa recipe) though it has a deep relationship with my winter days since childhood. So the traditional recipe of Gajar ka Halwa and little chitchats are today’s pick.
Though today having a bowl of Carrot Halwa is not a big deal when you can get tons of carrots throughout the year but back then during my childhood it was actually a big thing. We got to see lovely bright orange colored carrots only in winter. In fact winter was the queen of fresh vegetables and fruits and markets were full of vibrant colors. Red from apples, strawberries, tomatoes; orange from carrots, oranges; green from peas, green beans, yellow from cauliflower, pumpkin; even violet from ripe eggplants. Such a riot of colors it used to be and such a cheerful memory of them!
Naturally back at home we got to see the reflection of these beautiful fresh produces on our dinner table, especially on weekends. A holiday had to start with Koraishutir Kochuri (Peas Kachori) with Aloor Dom (Potato gravy); lunch had to have Mishti Polau (Sweet Pulao) & Kosha Mangsho (Mutton dry Curry) with Nolen Gurer Payesh (Rice Pudding with Date Palm Jaggery); dinner would definitely have either Lachha Paratha with Mutton Rezala or Some lip smacking Mutton Biryani with Chicken Chaap; and dessert? None other than our beloved Gajar ka Halwa.
And linger goes on with the left overs on next morning’s breakfast and then again on snack if there will be any traces left by then. We had two little ‘Halwathieves’ in our home, me and my younger sister; who used to sneak in the refrigerator to check whether there is even teeny weeny bites left.
I was never kitchen savvy and never had any idea what magic my parents used to do in the kitchen to bring out those delectable foods on our dinner table. But I remember once my father, who is a great cook himself, mentioned Carrot Halwa as an easy and quick dessert to some of his friends and my imagination was like it can be done instantly. Hence I started nagging about having it repeatedly. Later after so many years now when I’ve stepped into the kitchen to whisk and whip I realize how unreasonable kid I was back then and I actually feel so ashamed.
Anyways guilty or not I still share the very same love for this gorgeous beauty. And here is the traditional recipe of Gajar ka Halwa or Eggless Carrot Pudding from the heart of India. It’s time consuming and produces the best result, every time. But I promise I’ll also share the quick recipe soon.
Preparation Time: 20 mins
Cooking Time: 60 mins
Resting time: 10 mins
Total Time: 90 mins
Yield: 5 cups
Read the entire recipe and tips carefully before you start cooking.
Do make sure all ingredients are at room temperature (unless mentioned) and weighted or measured correctly in appropriate weighing machine or measuring instruments such as cups or spoons. Remember these are not your regular cups or spoons which you use in your daily life.
Carrot, finely grated: 4 cup (See Tips)
Milk: 4 cup (for Vegan substitutions See Tips)
Ghee (clarified butter): 3 tbsp (for Vegan substitutions See Tips)
Sugar: ¼ to 1/3 cup, (See Tips)
Cashew nuts, chopped: ¼ cup (33g approximately) (See Tips)
Golden raisins: ¼ cup
Green cardamom powder: ½ tsp or essence: 2 drops
Saffron strands: 8-12 or 1 pinch
Chopped nuts: handful
Wash and clean carrot. Peel the skin off and grate the carrot. You can use either shredded or chopped or finely grated carrots for this recipe. But carrot needs to be fresh and moist. Any kind of carrot works fine with this recipe but for the best result use deep orange colored juicy winter carrots.
You can use blender and smash the carrot. But I personally feel little texture in halwa helps to increase the richness in taste. Teeny weeny bites of carrot between my teeth keep me happy.
Take a large heavy bottomed pan on low flame and add grated carrot into the pan. Stir slightly.
Add milk and turn the flame to medium low. Stir gently to make sure that carrot is covered with milk.
Continue cooking on medium low flame and stir occasionally so that halwa don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Milk will be frothy and start reducing extremely slowly. Keep stirring occasionally and scrapping the sides off and mix with the halwa.
This is a real slow cooling process so you need to be very patient and calm. Remember, patience is the key ingredient of this delicious Gajar ka Halwa.
Once 70% to 80% of the milk has evaporated add saffron and mix well.
Then add 2 tbsp of ghee and mix well. Soon milk will be evaporated completely and halwa will be semi solid. Add reserved 1 tbsp of ghee on the top and mix very gently. Also scrap off the sides and keep mixing with the rest of the halwa.
Once you notice ghee is floating on the top and sides, add sugar and cardamom powder and stir well to mix thoroughly so that sugar gets dissolved quickly. Run the taste test and adjust the sweetness according to your taste.
Once halwa is thick as solid and no more visibility of milk, add dry fruits and give it a good stir.
Switch off the flame and keep the halwa in the pan for a while (say, 10-15 mins) to cool down. Rest of the moisture from the halwa will be evaporated by then.
Now scrumptious warm Gajar ka Halwa is ready to gulp down. Transfer in the serving bowl, garnish with some chopped nuts and start digging.
This dessert can be served as hot and cold both. Serve hot with fresh kheer or rabri. And while serving as cold, refrigerate for 1 hr at least (Don’t freeze). Remove 15 mins before serving. Vanilla or any other ice cream can be served with it.
Store the excess halwa (only if you can save some) in an air tight container and refrigerate. They will taste good up to 10-15 days. Mine never lasts that long, ever!
1. Deep orange colored juicy winter carrots are best for this recipe though any other will also work fine.
2. For Vegan substitution of milk use Almond milk or Rice milk or Soy milk or Coconut milk. I personally use either ‘Kesar Pista’ Soy milk or Almond milk for this recipe as I’m lactose intolerant.
3. For Vegan substitution of ghee use vegan Margarine or Coconut oil or any flavorless Vegan Butter. Coconut butter or oil works best when you use coconut milk as milk substitution in this recipe.
4. Substitute the sugar with equal amount of condensed milk or sugar free powder. If you’re using sugar free then add it towards the end of cooking not at the beginning.
5. Mixed of almond and cashew actually enhance the nutty flavor in the halwa.
Eat, Love & Enjoy! And Repeat!!!