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 

Spring Festival With Colors, Sweets, Bhang And Flowers


The spring is here and Delhi Trees have shed their leaves in anticipation of long summer and water scarcity. The roundabouts , the rose garden , the trees which line the  long sizzling roads are exploding with colors of spring flowers. The sight is intoxicating. Amidst all the traffic, heat, dust and stress of city life  the flowers dance with the slightest breeze.

The golden shower from the Neem trees is a such a refreshing sight . It is amazing how the yellow leaves rain on the earth below creating magic in the air.

The Silk cotton and the Coral Trees are on fire  and the Gulmohars and Laburnum are getting ready to bloom. Birds like koel,crows, pigeons,  parakeets, It is a delight to watch these dazzling flamboyant red flowers blazing amongst the soothing greens of other evergreens like Banyan, Jamun, Ashokas and many more.

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Spring flowers like roses, jasmine, Dalia, marigold, Poppies,  bottle brush, Moulsari, calendula,

Along with the riot of colors that spring brings comes the festival of Holi .

Now a days Holi is not what it sued to be in my childhood. I remember the aromas that drifted from the kitchen with the breeze . The excitement of all the goodies like Gujiya, Dahi bade , poran poli, dal moth and more.

It was a family bonding session to prepare all the delicacies and savor them along with thandai and other coolants. Holi was never a vulgar, obnoxious display . We would keep plates of abir and gulal ready for the people visiting home along with the sweets. Water guns were in but no color filled baloons . Colors were mostly natural made with sandlewood, beetroot, black grapes, henna, bolied silk cotton (Semul) flowers or Tesu flowers.

Music was very much a part of Holi always. The special holi songs , tappas, the kumayuni Pahadi holi dance and song groups mixed with Bhang was a heady combination.

Bhang was used in pakodas, thandai etc.

I remember the JNU holi at a friend’s home and the Chat sammelan which was so much fun though I went there as a guest I really freaked out . It sure was spring madness come alive.

Gone are the days of  Gulabi Holi( pink holi) and Aab-e-Pashi (shower of colourful flowers) when the holi Phags were sung. Songs like

Kyon mo pe mari rang ki pichkari, Dekho kunwarji doon gi gari! (Why am I with colour sprinkled/ By me now you will be abused!”)

Now all we hear are bollywood numbers , the local flavor is lost forever at least in big cities like Delhi. In the Mugal times also Holi was played with fervor and gaiety. India’s cultural heritage has been enriched by the harmonious amalgamation and assimilation of various faiths and ethnicities.

It was a frenzied carnival where  people, irrespective of their caste, creed or any other religious or social distinction, forgot their restraints and joined in the festivity of the celebration.

I don’t much see that spirit of brotherhood and love anymore. The traditional Holi is restricted to some areas only like the famous Bruj ki holi, kumaun ki holi and Benaras ki holi.

 

The tradition of Thandai a cold drink made with a mixture of almonds, spices, milk and sugar and Bhang ( female cannabis sativa buds and leaves) is specialty of Northern India though now a days its used almost everywhere. Associated with Lord Shiva and in the city of Banaras one can find people preparing Thandai with mortar and pestle , singing holi songs. The festive spirit is enhanced by the bond of togetherness it creates. . Bhang is also mixed with ghee and sugar to make a tasty green halva, and into peppery, chewy little balls called ‘golees’. Bhang has medicinal properties also and much safer than drinking alcohol.

It is considered good omen and auspicious  to drink a little bhang on Holi.

Its been a while since I played holi. I lost interest in it after someone poured a can of emulsion paint on my head and I had to wash it with kerosene. It was pathetic and burned my skin for days but the memory of the lovely times celebrated together still fill me with nostalgia .

Here is my Recipe  for baked gujiya

Baked Gujiya


Ingredients :

For Dough

2 cups all-purpose flour

6 tbsp clarified butter (ghee)

1/2 tsp baking soda

Water

For Filling

1 kg Khoya ( thickened milk) ( I do not use khoya)

1 cup Sugar,  according to  taste

1 cup dry grated coconut

1 cup dry fruits ( cashewnut, almond, raisins), finely chopped

1/4 tsp cardamom powder

1 tbsp clarified butter

Method:

For making dough

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking soda and clarified butter. Start kneading until smooth and stiff textured dough. To test press your palm on the dough and remove immediately. The dough should bounce back. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and let it sit for sometime.

For filling

In a deep heavy bottom pan, fry khoya with 1tsp ghee until golden in color. Add shredded coconut to it. Fry for sometime. Add the dry fruits and fry again, until  you start getting nice aroma.  Add sugar and cardomom powder to it. Mix well. Fry for few mins. Allow the mixture to cool.


Assembling and Baking

Divide the dough in small balls. Roll these balls into small, thick 6″ diameter circles. I use small  bowl to cut into perfect shape or use  gujia molds available in market.

Put a tbsp of filling in the one half of the circle and brush milk all over the along the side. Fold one side of the round over the other. Pinch the edges to seal it.

Preheat the oven to 375 degree Celsius arrange the gujiyas in a oven safe greased dish and bake till golden brown from both sides.

Enjoy !!!!


I know Holi festivities are over but still wanted to share this with friends. I miss the fun, the aromas and bonds of love and warmth , the eager anticipation of new clothes , music and dance. The laughter  and carefree longings and to some extent the teasing ( nok jhok) . I miss mom’s home.