It is an established fact that carrot halwa is the quintessential winter dessert in North India at least. Usually everyone makes the red carrot halwa, loaded with the goodness of juicy winter carrots, ghee (a good fat), and dry fruits but I absolutely love the black carrot halwa since my childhood. More than the red and the exotic white one which is sold only at Shirin Bhawan, Chandini Chawk, Old Delhi. In Allahabad, Lucknow and nearby areas it was made in many households on regular basis and was one of the top picks for the winter wedding season. It was also part of the Royal Awadhi cuisine.
In Delhi, the safed gajar ka halwa ruled until the red one came and dominated the market after the partition.
Even though it a specialty of Eastern UP, very few shops make and sell it. Kali gajar is not really black but of deep violet hue like the beetroot and is used in Punjab for the preparation of the delicious kanji, a mustard, ginger powder and rock salt-laced tingling appetizer. Interestingly this deep purple variety of carrot is the original carrot.
This traditional gajar halwa is one of the top ones in the lost recipes / delicacies of Indian cuisines. The richness of ghee helps in absorption of fat soluble vitamins in the pigments. Black carrot is rich in flavonoids and Antioxidant anthocyanins among other things. They are considered to be warming in nature and extremely healthy so the halwa was eaten as a tonic to boost the immunity. The halwa is less sweet than the red carrot and has a unique taste and flavor that you need to cultivate and once you do it will become one of your top choices.
For years I made this delicious exactly as I made the red carrot halwa and thought that the astringent taste was part of the package but then as few years back I came across Sangeeta Khanna’s recipe on her blog. I was surprised to know the reason for the strange taste and how the black carrots mask the sweetness of the milk unlike the sweet red ones when cooked in full fat milk. So I learned how to get rid of the problem. It was a game changer for the dish I so love. So, the recipe I am sharing is originally hers and you can find it HERE too.
The Kali Gajar Halwa is rich in ghee ( clarified butter) which is essential for the absorption of fat soluble nutrients of the pigment. So, do make this mouth watering dish before the season for black carrots is over.
1 kg cleaned peeled and grated black carrots
1 Liter full fat milk reduced to make about 200 gm rabdi like thick consistency)
200 gm sugar
60 gm (2-3 tbsp) ghee or a little more
chopped nuts, raisins for garnish (I usually prefer it without any add-ons)
Wash, wipe, peel and grate the carrots and keep aside. I usually use a plastic bag over my hands while grating as the pigment is hard to wash off. Be careful of it staining your clothes etc.
( Side note -My aunt used to say one should always use straight carrots and not the deformed twisted ones. I asked her the reason and she gave some popular story about the root resembling the phallic shape and considered aphrodisiac.) 😀
Take the full fat whole milk in a thick bottom pan and bring it to boil. Now, reduce heat and let it evaporate and thicken while you prepare the carrots. Keep stirring now and then. I absolutely detest khoya or mawa so never use it. It also changes the original subtle taste which is a complete no no. No shortcuts to good food.
Heat a broad thick bottom pan or wok on medium flame and generously smear it with ghee. The wok must be large enough to comfortably contain all the grated carrot.
Slid in the grated carrots and stir vigorously for five minutes or till the carrots wilt and reduce. Now, tun the flame to medium and keep stirring. The beautiful flavors will get locked in as the carrots get a little seared. They will get a glorious sheen when this happens.
Once the grated carrot reduces in volume and becomes shiny soft you can mash it a little to get a smooth texture or leave it as it is for that authentic granular texture. I don’t mash the carrots as it is the shredded texture that gives the dish its character.
Add the sugar and mix well. Keep stirring and cooking till all the water released from adding the sugar evaporates. The mixture will become glazed and shine.
By now the milk would have reduced to the required consistency. Stir and scrape all the thick malai from the sides of the pan. Turn off the heat and remove it from stove. Add the thick evaporated milk to the carrot mixture and mix well. The milk will take on the gorgeous purple hue of the carrots and the kitchen will become fragrant with the aroma and the halwa won’t get the .astringent taste either.
Cook till all the ingredients come together in a mass. The mixture will usually leave the sides. Roast it a little more and remove from heat.
Garnish with chopped blanched almonds, raisins etc if you desire. The halwa is best served hot.
I can assure you that you will definitely go for another helping. Do let me know if you prepare this.
This recipe post has a little story. A childhood story before plastic took over our lives. We always ate in thalis which were either made of steel or brass even copper. Mainly steel.
We had a low table or chowki and patras with it to sit. Sometimes we used a chatayi or woven mat too. Food was served in thali and karoti and these small tumblers had tak/ mattha/buttermilk or water. They were always kept on the left side of the thali. Most of the utensils and furniture etc was given away when I was growing up because my parents kept moving from one place to another and carrying too many things was a headache. Mom still managed to save some heirlooms like a betel nut cutter ( sarota), karanji maker and spoon, a few lotas of different shapes and sizes, katoris and thalis, a few brass and copper cooking utensils, milk pots and some other stuff like bolti or morali/vili, a grinding stone, pestle and mortar etc.
This small thali seen here is about 59 years old. It was given to mom when my brother was born, mine is slightly bigger but I loved to eat in this one. Little thali, a small katori and a tiny tumbler. It fitted perfectly in the imaginary tales I spun all day as a kid. As I grew up things changed and reluctantly we shifted to melamine / china/ glass plates but now i’m going back to thalis.
Today I was reminiscent of my aaji ( maternal grandmother) and of many other things that were part of my childhood and growing up years and I wondered how does one feel eating in old utensils that have been a part of so many kitchen stories. I can tell you there is a certain joy and fulfillment that only these utensils can provide. It is the same with food. There are some soul foods that stay with you from your childhood to old age and as you grow older you crave for them more. Varan Bhat and Amti bhat are two such dishes. You can call them pillars of daily Maharashtriyan cuisine.
Simple, soulful and full of good nutrition, I love amti in all forms poured over hot steamed rice with a generous helping of hot ghee over it. Not many dishes can give me the kind of satisfaction like this does. I make it with or without coconut and with different lentils. All have their unique tastes but this particular one I like the most. A comfort food for all times made with toor dal / arhar dal / split pigeon pea, goda masala, tamarind and jaggery or kokum and jaggery for that tangy sweet taste. The flavor from kokum is distinctly different from the tamarind one. I have used soaked dry kokum here.
A typical meal for me would be steamed rice / bajra bhakri, garlic chutney or lime pickle, stuffed brinjals with in peanut gravy, aamti , fresh buttermilk and salt on side. Maybe a bowl of shrikhand or a peda to go with it. No other meals can beat it.
This amti has the goodness of tender drumsticks or sehjan ki phali or moringa pods which I love to suck on taking in the sweet flavorful flesh from inside.
Toor dal / arhar dal / split pigeon peas – 1/2 Cup
Tender drumsticks – 4 medium
Onion – 1 large
Curry leaves – 6-8
Kokum – 3 -4 or tamarind pulp as desired ( approx – 2 tbsp
Asafoetida – 2 pinch
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder – to taste
Whole red chlli – 1=-2
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp
Goda masala ( I used homemade) – 2 tbsp
Jaggery – 1-2 tbsp
Ghee / clarified butter – 3-4 tbsp
Chopped coriander leaves – 2-3 tbsp
Grated coconut – 1/4 Cup ( optional ) ( I didn’t use)
Grated ginger – 1 tsp
- Wash and soak toor dal for 15 minutes then pressure cook it with grated ginger, salt, turmeric powder, asafoetida for 3-4 whistles or until soft.
- Soak kokum / tamarind ( if not using the seedless pulp) in warm water for 20 min and then mash the tamarind into a clear paste ( remove threads / seeds etc) .No need to mash kokum, just throw t in the dal later while seasoning.
- Chop onions in big chucks. 6-8 pieces of a large onion.
- Wash cut and steam the drumsticks. Check to rule out the bitterness.
- Once the dal is done, take a masher and totally mash the dal till it is one smooth mix. Add a cup of water and boil on low flame.
- add the kokum or tamarind paste at this time to dal.
- Add the goda masala to dal and stir. Also add the jaggery and give it a nice stir so that it melts nicely.
- on the other side, heat a pan, add ghee ( Ghee brings out the best taste in amti). Once ghee warms up add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and let them splutter.
- Add pinch of asafoetida again, whole red chilli, curry leaves and onion pieces. fry them till onions are translucent. Add grated coconut if using and stir. Add the steamed / boiled drumsticks. Stir and add a little chilli powder. Let it cook for a minute or two.
- gently pour the dal over this seasoning and give a nice stir. Check for sweet, salt and spice and make changes as per your taste. It must have a nice tangy sweet flavor spiced by goda masala.
- Let it boil for a while. Add water if the amti seems thick. It is supposed to be a little runny and usually thickens after cooling so keep a little more watery than usual dal. Discard the kokum pieces.
- Garnish with freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve with hot steamed rice or bhakri.
It is essential to pour some hot ghee over amti bhat. It enhances the flavors and gives a lovely taste to the dish.
I used onion but traditionally no onion is used in this amti.
You can buy goda masala or amti masala from the stores or make them at home too.
Do let me know if you make this.
I love this delicious gatte ki sabzi from Rajasthan. I have another recipe of the Punjabi version on my blog but this is absolute delight when eaten with hot fresh phulkas smeared with ghee or of course the bajra roti which is traditionally served with this curry. Ghee is healthy and you should use it. The gattas I made for this recipe are thinner and spicier than the Punjabi ones.
Gatta is chickpea flour dumpling that is steamed or boiled till they float up and become light. One can spice them up or keep them plain. They are so tempting and hard to resist that you may keep munching on them while making the curry and realize that there is more curry than the gattas.
Make some extra dumplings always. You can use these gattas or dumplings with other veggies also but this is a basic recipe.
For Gatta :
Besan / Chickpea flour – 1 Cup
Home cultured curd / Yogurt – 1/4 Cup
Fennel seeds powder – 3/4 tsp
Ajwain – 3/4 tsp
Salt – to taste
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Chili powder – to taste
Pinch of hing powder
2 pinches of coarsely ground fresh black pepper corns
For the Curry :
Ginger and Garlic – 1 tsp each ( grated)
Onion – 1 medium size, chopped fine
Green chilies – 2, slit or chopped
Whole red chilies – 1-2
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tbs
Besan or Chickpea flour – 2 tbs
Fresh coriander leaves – chopped – 2 tbsp
Yogurt / Curd – 1/2 Cup
For Gatta :
Mix the dry ingredients listen under gatta except the ghee and curd.
Pour ghee evenly and rub it in the mixture. Slowly add beaten curd one spoon at a time to make a firm dough.
Divide the dough in equal parts and roll it in your palms to make a cylindrical shape. You can make it as thin or thick but I have noticed that the thicker ones don’t cook well from the center when boiled.
Making perfect gatta is a bit tricky at times but you’ll get used to it.
Now take a deep large pan and boil enough water. Once the water boils slowly dunk the gatta in it. You can go about doing some other stuff while they cook in the boiling water. It takes a lot of time. Keep checking in between and the moment gatttas rise up and start floating take them out in a plate to cook. Throw away the water.
Once they cool, cut them into 1 inch long pieces.
Now to make the curry :
Blend the yogurt and add the powdered masalas and salt in it. Remember that you had added salt in the gattas too. Mix well. Roast the besan and allow it t cool. Now, make a paste with 2 tbsp of buttermilk and add to the curd. DO NOT add more than 1-2 tbs of besan or it will become kadhi. You can omit besan too. I use it just to make sure that the curd doesn’t curdle.
Heat a wok or a kadhayi and put ghee in it. when the ghee melts, add hing and cumin seeds. When they crackle , add red and green chili, stir and add ginger and garlic. Saute and add the onions. Let the onions brown a little then turn off the gas. Add the curd mixture and give it a nice stir.
Put tit back on flame and keep stirring on low medium heat till the ghee separates from the masala.
Slowly add warm water to make a curry till you get desired consistency. The gravy will thicken once you add gattas so keep that it mind.
Adjust salt and spices to your liking at this point.
Let the curry boil for sometime and then dip in the gatta pieces.
Let it cook for about 5-10 minutes and then garnish it with fresh coriander leaves.
Eat it hot with bajra roti or phulka smeared with ghee. It makes for one hell of a satiating meal.
Mangoes are in season and there is nothing more satiating than this dessert. Fragrant rice in full cream milk with flavor of ripe mangoes is delicately delicious and looks fantastic with the mango roses. This was my first attempt in making the roses and the mangoes were so juicy and ripe that it didn’t work the way I wanted but then it was fun and lip smacking. I also discovered an easier way of getting those roses right which I will share later along with some other fruit and vegetable flowers.
The secret to a good phirni is the coarsely ground rise that has a semolina like texture. Traditionally it is served in mitti ka kasora or a small earthenware bowl. I didn’t have those so used a clay pot to chill the phirni then served in glass bowls. Nuts, saffron, silver leaf are used traditionally as a garnish but with the gorgeous mango flavour and roses on top I did not use anything extra. Creamy and grainy, this is a perfect dessert after a lavish meal.
- Mango puree – 1 cup
- Raw Basmati Rice – 31/2 tbs ( Soaked)
- Mangoes – 1-2 ( For the roses)
- Condensed Milk ( Milkmaid ) – 3/4 Cup ( adjust according to the sweetness of mangoes)
- Full Fat Milk – 4 Cups
- Saffron Threads – 5-6 ( Soaked in warm milk)
- Almonds – 6-7 soaked / skinned / ground to a paste
- Nuts / Raisins – for garnish ( as desired)
- Green cardamom powder – 1/4 tsp
Soak rice in water for 30 minutes at least.
Rinse and blend in the food processor with a little milk or water to make a smooth yet coarse paste. The rice should not become powdery.
Heat the milk in heavy bottom pan and bring in to boil. Keep stirring and reduce it for about 15 minutes.
Add the rice and almond pastes, stirring continuously on low heat. Make sure no lumps are formed.
Add saffron and keep simmering on low heat till the rawness of ricer goes away.
Add condensed milk and stir till it thickens to pudding like consistency. Turn off the gas. Add cardamom powder.
Let the mixture cool on the counter and then st
ir in the fresh mango puree. Mix it to get a smooth texture.
Add the desired nuts and pour into the earthen pot or any serving pot you are using. Let it chill in the fridge so it sets properly.
Meanwhile make mango roses and cool them. Before serving arrange the roses as desired and serve chilled.
To make mango roses : Peel a hard yet ripe mango and cut the two side slices. Remove an inch from the sides and slice thinly. Arrange it the thin slices to form the petals and place it on the chilled phirni.