Gajar Halwa - Indian Carrot Pudding Recipe
There's something about homemade or should I say "mom made" desserts and the nostalgia associated with it.
Growing up as an 80s kid, we had very limited choices when it came to outside food. But then living in a joint family, where ladies of the house knew their cooking had some benefits for sure. There was no repetition of same old things to eat, we were treated to a variety and that made me a fussy eater that I am today. Carrot Halwa also known as Gajrela or Gajar Ka Halwa was made with fresh cream, painstakingly collected from cow's milk which was delivered by a milkman. Homemade ghee and dried fruits picked from famous City Market, along with carrots from Russell Market was a sweet dish that kids were treated to on a weekend.
Been the youngest in the house, with a mother who dished up what my heart craved for is something that I still get to cherish. Carrot halwa tops my list when it comes to comfort food as a dessert for sure. Yes - the grating can be a laborious process, having a food processor surely helps :). I find the long, red carrots lend a better flavour and texture to this sweet dish, these are mostly found during early winters in Bengaluru and are abundant up North.
Be generous with the ghee/clarified butter and dry fruits, they add that nice crunchiness with every bite. Raisins, cashews and pistachios are something that I love adding wholeheartedly in this halwa. Freshly crushed Cardamon elevates this dish with flavouring to a whole new level. Although this is a classic and something that most cooks in an Indian house know thoroughly, I am sharing our in house version on my blog. There is slow cooking, lots of stirring, paired with generous amounts of each ingredient with an unparalleled dash of love :) So forget the calorie count when you're making this one.
Here's what you need -
4 large cups of grated carrot
2 cups of whole fat milk, loaded with malai/cream
6 tbsp - Milkmaid (condensed milk)
5 tbsp - Ghee/ Clarified Butter
4 Green Cardamons, crushed
10 - 12 Cashew nuts, chopped
2 tbsp - chopped pistachios
3 tbsp - Raisins
1 cup - Sugar, adjust as per taste requirements
1. In a deep Kadai or a non-stick pan - add a 4 tbsp of ghee and fry the grated carrots for about 5 mins until raw smell goes away on a medium simmer.
2. Next, add the milk and cook the carrots with intermittent stirring until the mixture reduces (milk will start to evaporate)
3. When milk has reduced to about 75% add in sugar, crushed cardamon and milkmaid. Stir well and continue to cook on low flame.
4. In a separate Kadai/ small pan - heat 1 tbsp of ghee, fry the dry fruits ( except pistachios) until light brown. Add this to the above mixture and stir well.
5. Once the milk has completely reduced, carrots are cooked and the ghee starts to leave in corners - turn off flame.
6. Serve Gajar Halwa hot or lukewarm as is with a generous garnish of pistachios or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.