I am a sucker for seasonal produce and ruby red carrots flood the vegetable markets during winter. Sweet and full of healthy nutrients these carrots are not just good as raw salad can also used for making Carrot Pickle ( my recipe) , carrot cake , carrot halwa, carrot barfi , carrot preserve (murraba) / paysam and can be cooked and mixed in variety of way in vegetables/ stews / soups/ pulao / vegetable biryani/ avial etc. I recently had carrot parathas with home made butter and trust me they were out of the world. Do you know how beneficial is the juice of carrots? find out in my post Carrot Juice Benefits .
Carrot halwa is one of the favorite sweet dishes all across Northern India and is made in variety of ways these days. This Indian Carrot pudding is one of the main sweet dishes on any festival, wedding or other celebrations. With Khoya ( similar to ricotta cheese but lower in moisture and made with milk instead of whey) , condense milk, sugar-free and easy microwave carrot halwa are also popular these days. but
All Indian desserts are time-consuming labor of love. All across the plains of North India you will find pipping hot carrot halwa and hot gulab jamun in every sweet shop all through winter. Most of these shops use khoya which makes the halwa richer. I prefer to make it traditionally in full cream milk over slow fire and the result is a gorgeous deep red aromatic halwa with a divine taste of thickened milk. Making halwa in milk also helps it carrots to retain their flavor which is usually masked when khoya is used.
The traditional carrot halwa is definitely is not a dish for dieters. Rich in Vitamin A, proteins, carbohydrates and fat it is nutritious and filling winter dessert.
I make two types of carrot halwa – one with red carrots and the other with black( deep purple carrots which are usually not used for halwa).
Today I want to share recipe for Red carrot Halwa or gajar ka halwa perfected over the years in my kitchen. This halwa can be kept in an air tight container in fridge for more than a month.
Red Carrots – 1 Kg
Full Cream Milk – 1 Kg
Ghee ( Clarified Butter) – 1/2 cup
Mixture of dry fruits – I cup ( raisins, blanched shredded almonds, broken cashew nuts etc. )
Green Cardamom – 6
Sugar – 1 cup ( according to taste) ( the amount of sugar depends on sweetness of the carrot too)
Choose medium size thin red carrots. These will have thinner yellow middle part which we discard while grating for halwa .
Wash, peel and grate them from the larger side of grater so they retain their texture after cooking.
Take a heavy bottom pan or wok and place in on medium flame.
Heat full cream milk and add grated carrots to it when milk begins to simmer.
Let it simmer on low flame after first boil. Keep stirring in between so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.
Let it cook till all the milk gets evaporated.
Once the milk dried up add sugar and mix properly. Keep the flame on medium and keep stirring as at this point the mixture will have tendency to stick to bottom.
The sugar will make the mixture lose water so turn the flame to low and let the water evaporate. The mixture will also get a gorgeous deep color and aroma by this time.
Now that the mixture is almost dry and has started leaving the sides add ghee ( clarified butter).
Keep stirring it till the mixture is nicely roasted It will have a deep red color by now and will smell heavenly of thick milk, sugar and carrot.
Once the ghee leaves the sides and the mixture gets a crispy yet moist texture add crushed cardamoms and slowly the magical fragrance of the spice will begin to blend in with the sweetness of the dish.
Some people stir fry the nuts before adding but I add them in their natural form. Raisins should be soaked for a while before adding.
Turn off the flame and remove the dessert in a serving plate or bowl. Carrot halwa is meant to be eaten hot. Sometimes just for a change I put a dollop of vanilla ice cream on the side. The hot and cold of these two favorites is a great combination.
Enjoy one of the finest and most loved Indian desserts. Try it in your kitchen and share it with loved ones. Do let me know if you relished this winter treat.