Gajar Ka Halwa – A Traditional, Indulgent and Treasured Indian Dessert!
Gajar Ka Halwa / Carrot Halwa
Fact – The gajar ka halwa was first introduced during the Mughal period and the name originates from the Arabic word “Halwa”, which means “sweet” (Wiki tells me this)
I am yet to come across a person who doesn’t like Gajar Ka Halwa, winter dessert delicacy. Delhi Carrots or Red Carrots are best for making this delicious Indian dessert during winters. I actually kept delaying making it this year, as I didn’t want my fridge to have a bowl of this, especially with husband in town, it is very difficult to keep him off sweets. So, when a very close friend of ours, who was visiting Mumbai to participate in the Mumbai Marathon came over for dinner, I knew that this was my only chance to make this decadent halwa, before the Delhi carrots vanish from the market. Our friends loved the dessert and were happy it wasn’t overtly sweet or loaded with too much ghee.
Though the traditional Gajar ka Halwa has khoya, addition of khoya or mawa can be made optional. The sweet shops / halwais tend to just cook the carrots in ghee and sugar and add the khoya instead of cooking it with milk as home cooks or rather as our Moms do at home. Both have their own distinct taste, the one with the milk is much creamier, and a version that matches our taste buds.
This dessert always takes me back to my childhood days when Sunday was the only day (holiday) when all at home were present and it was also the era where television time was limited, with few serials on Doordarshan. An afternoon siesta always followed with evening tea session along with snacks. Ma made either a pakoda or paniyarams along with some sweet dish once or twice in a month, without disturbing the monthly budget. A kilo of carrots grated, made into a delicious halwa, distributed to few neighbours and devoured by all of us at home was our ideal Sunday. Her version was slightly quicker, she sautéed the carrots in ghee and then pressure cooked them along with milk, for atleast 2-3 whistles, further reduced it on medium heat before adding sugar (also more than what I add) and ghee, again more than my quantity. I am glad my version, although slightly different than hers, just tastes the same, well almost! You cannot replicate Ma’s food! Period!
Ensure you make a big batch of these… I guarantee you, these will be polished off soon.
If you are looking to try another quick dessert option, ideal for winters, you may have a look at the following recipes on the blog –
(1) Rava Ladoo
Read the recipe below with step by step instructions (pictorial) for convenience.
Recipe for Gajar Ka Halwa
- Delhi Carrots or Red Carrots – 5 Large ones grated
- Cardamom powder – ½ tsp
- Mixed nuts – ¼ cup roughly chopped
- Ghee or Clarified Butter – 5 tblsp
- Milk – 2 cups
- Sugar – ¾ cup
Method (click on the pic to read the procedure written in short)
- Wash the carrots under running water, peel the skin, cut the ends and grate them.
- In a heavy bottom kadhai, heat a tblsp of ghee and then add the grated carrots. Ensure the flame is on medium heat, keep sautéing the carrots for a few minutes.
- Sweat the carrots until they reduce in volume. This should take atleast 10 minutes on medium flame. The raw smell of the carrots will eventually reduce during this process.
- Now, add the milk and stir the mixture well. Let it simmer on medium heat for atleast 10 minutes. Do not cover and cook with a lid. Let the steam evaporate as we want the liquid to reduce before adding the sugar.
- Once the milk evaporates (atleast 90% of it) and the carrots soften well, add the sugar and mix it well.
- The consistency will further turn liquid. At this stage, add the remaining 2 tblsps of ghee and keep stirring the mixture on medium heat until the liquid evaporates, the ghee starts appearing on the sides of the kadhai or pan.
- The consistency of the halwa depends from person to person. You can keep stirring the mixture, until it turns very dry in texture or you could keep it slightly lose too (that’s how we prefer). Switch off the flame after obtaining the required consistency.
- Heat another pan, roast some nuts in a tblsp of ghee, once slightly brown or roasted, add them to the halwa mixture. Add the cardamom powder and then mix it well.
- Serve it hot, warm or cold and it would just taste amazing.
- If you have a processor at home, the grating of carrots should be done in about 5 minutes, else, if you are old school like me, who enjoys grating – This should take 10 odd minutes.
- Use full cream milk if possible, to get a soft textured halwa. Since I don’t use khoya or mawa in my version of halwa, I opt for a good quality milk.
- In case you want to add more ghee, it is perfectly fine, please go ahead. It will in turn make your halwa taste amazing. I have chosen to add few tblsps only as we tend to go easy on both sugar and ghee.
- If you prefer a very sweet halwa, you can add 1 cup of sugar or more. We prefer homemade sweets to be slightly less sweet in taste.
- If you like adding khoya or mawa, please do so after adding the sugar and once the halwa is almost reaching the desired level of thickness. Just grate the khoa or crumble it well and add. Since its just reduced milk and already precooked, it doesn’t need to be added with the sugar or milk.
- You can add as many nuts as possible and may not chose to restrict it to just ¼ cup. I have added a mix of pista, cashews and almonds. You could also add blanched and slivered almonds if you don’t prefer roasting them in ghee and adding to the halwa.
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