Recipe – Easy Apple Halwa


Lockdown has forced me home and most travel plans stand cancelled but there is poetry, art and cooking to keep me grounded. Winter brings a variety of fruits and veggies to fall in love with. When someone bought orchard fresh apples from Narkanda, Himachal Pradesh I was excited to make a few things apart from munching on their sweet crispy goodness.

On days when everything gets a bit too overwhelming I begin to crave for something sweet yet healthy. Home cooked in a jiffy is my choice of instant desserts. This three ingredient apple halwa is so good I can’t tell you. Simple and easy to assemble. It doesn’t have khoya or milk in it so if you are lactos intolerant this is perfect for you. I love stewed apples so this is a star dish for small hungers. It also reminds me of those delish apple pie fillings I used to make at one time.

It I used both golden and red delicious apples in it. You may use whichever juicy apple you have. The sweeter the fruit lesser the added sugar. I prefer the flavour of the fruit to be the focus of the dish.

It is perfect as a Fasting dish too. Good way to get the kids eating fruits. I use minimal ghee and let me remind you it is a good fat so do not be afraid to use it.

Here is the recipe :

Ingredients :

Apples – 3 large

Sugar – 3 tbsp ( adjust according to the sweetness of fruit. I sometimes use jaggery or brown sugar too)

Ghee \ Clarified Butter – 2 tbsp

Cinnamon \ Nutneg – A pinch

( You can use a pinch or two of Green cardamom powder or apple pie spice mix too)

Slivers of almonds / Cashew as desired

Method :

Wash and pat dry the apples. Peel, core and grate them fine. I prefer this texture but you can give a spin in grinder too to make it bit smoother.

In a heavy bottom or non stick pan add warm ghee and slightly fry the cashews if using. Remove in a plate and keep aside.

Now add the grated or pureed apples to the warm ghee. Keep heat on medium.

Cook till all the juice from the apples evaporates. The mixture might splutter so be careful.

Add sugar and mix well. Continue to cook and stir occasionally so that the mixture doesn’t stick to the pan. Keep heat low medium.

The addition of sugar will make it liquidy again so keep cooking till water evaporates.

Stir in whichever spice mix you are using.

Here you need to be vigilant. Keep a watch on the texture. It shouldn’t be under cooked like a pudding or over cooked into thick mass. The moment is all comes together turn off the heat.

Add the chopped dry fruits and serve.

If you wish to turn it into squares of barfi you need to just cook a little more and then pour the mixture in a greased plate to set. Cut in desired shape to serve.

You can make the pumpkin halwa the same say. Just steam the grated pumpkin and follow the same steps. Use the deep orange ripe pumpkin for it.

You can mix the two ingredients too. It tastes yup.

This is a simple no fail fall recipe you can try this season. Give it try.

Easy Strawberry Frozen Yogurt


Homemade frozen yogurts are a class apart. I prefer them over ice creams as they are low in calories and much healthier option. Full of good nutrients and simple to assemble, FroYo can be made with so many fruits. During summer I make a variety of Frozen Yogurts with seasonal fruits like Mango, Cherry, Banana, Sapota, berries, Pineapple, apricots, jamun etc. Each one is so refreshing, addictive and high in taste.

I use full fat home cultured hung curd as far as possible as it is full of probiotics. The frozen yogurt is naturally sweetened with fruits and organic honey which also prevents the ice to form while freezing the dessert.

This is a beautiful strawberry frozen yogurt that I made today. The month of February has been very hot this year and I was craving for something sweet.  If you love strawberries as much as I do then this one is for you.

A box of strawberry was lying in the fridge and I had hung some fresh curd to make a dip but that wasn’t going to happen. 😛 So, here it is, a luscious, creamy, tangy-sweet summer dessert.

Ingredients :  

Fresh unblemished strawberries –  2 Cup (Washed, hulled and frozen)

Organic honey – 2-3 tbsp

Lemon juice – 1 tsp

Hung Yogurt or Yogurt Cheese –  1/3 Cup (You can use Greek Yogurt too)

Steps :

Wash, hull and freeze the strawberries. You can slice the strawberries and line them on a tray to freeze.

Hang the curd/ yogurt overnight or for 3-4 hours in the fridge till completely drained of liquid.

Freeze the yogurt as well. We will chop it up an hour before using.

Take out the yogurt from the freezer and chop it up. Put it in a glass bowl.

Now take out the strawberries, thaw them slightly and then remove 1/4 in a bowl, place the rest in the blender and process till thick and smooth.

Take out the strawberry puree in a bowl and put the remaining in the blender, give a swirl so it becomes a chunky mix. Remove.

Now, add hung yogurt, lemon juice and honey in the blender and process till smooth. Add the strawberry puree to it and mix. Add the chunky strawberries to the strawberry yogurt and mix well.

Scrape the sides of the blender bowl and blend again to ensure there are no lumps.

Taste for sweetness and adjust accordingly.

In a freezer safe bin pour the strawberry yogurt mixture. Tap the bin on the counter 2-3 times to remove air gaps. Cover and put in the freezer.

Take out and whisk the mixture after every 30 min and freeze again. I usually don’t need to do it if using honey or just do it once. Freeze for 4-5 hours or over night to get the ice cream like consistency.

You can also serve it as soft serve after a few hours.

Frozen Yogurt is best consumed on the same day but you can freeze it for a few days.

Recipe – Traditional Carrot Halwa


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).

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.

Ingredients :

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)

Method: 

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.

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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.

Bon Appetit