Winters and its bounties are many. If I had to pick one I think there would be a tie between fresh fenugreek leaves and red Delhi carrots! This very Delhi carrot or laal gaajar is the secret behind the best gaajar halwa recipes.
Until very recently, I was unaware that the red variety of carrots were called by this special name. Shout out to my co-bloggers from Instagram for enlightening me. Come winter and these red carrots, I cannot wait to make the family favorite gaajar halwa. To elaborate, it is a creamy fudgy dessert made with full-fat milk, carrots, and a hint of sugar. Most of the sweetness in the dessert is imparted by the carrots themselves. Interestingly, although eaten widely in the Indian sub-continent, this dessert has its roots in the Arabic world. In fact, the word “halwa” means sweet in Arabic.
It is beautiful how Indian cooking has been modified by every external influence. Today it is a combination of the best the world has to offer. So, I feel, there is none like the Indian cuisine for its sheer variety, complexity, delicacy, and most importantly nutrition. As Indians we need to take pride in its numerous health benefits perfectly, balanced by its flavors.
You can eat this halwa hot or cold – it tastes great either way. If you are looking for accompaniments, then try hot halwa with a dollop of chilled vanilla ice cream – a popular combination back home. Here is a recipe for the halwa, passed by my grandmother to my mother and now to me. I try my best to do justice to this heirloom recipe. Let me know what you think.
YOUTUBE LINK to the video recipe.
- Red carrots (grated coarse)- 4 cups (if red not available you could also use the orange variety)
- Full fat milk- 2 cups
- Sugar- ½ cup or as per taste depending on how sweet the carrots are
- Ghee (clarified butter)- 4 tablespoons
- Dry fruits (cashew, almonds, pistachios, sultanas/raisins), chopped coarse- 1 tablespoon each
- Cardamom powder- ½ teaspoon
- Saffron (optional)-A few strands
- Whipping cream/condensed milk-4 tablespoons (optional; adjust the sugar accordingly if using condensed milk)
- In a pressure cooker add two-tablespoon ghee on high heat. Reduce the flame to medium once ghee is hot and add grated carrots
- Stirring continuously cook the carrots in ghee for about 5-7 minutes till they start to release a sweet fragrance
- Add 2 cups milk, mix well and seal the pressure cooker and let it cook on high flame for around 5 minutes or two whistles. Turn off the heat after 5 minutes and let all the steam release before taking off the lid
- Here on reduce the flame to medium-low and let the carrot-milk mixture slow cook. At this point add the remaining two tablespoons of ghee, saffron and cardamom powder
- If you like a rich halwa, add some condensed milk or cream, mix well and continue to slow cook. You could also keep adding a few tablespoons of milk and let it reduce to khoya as it cooks with the carrots. Traditionally the halwa is cooked slowly for hours altogether with gradual addition of ghee and milk or khoya (reduced milk) to give it an extremely rich and creamy texture. So, basically when you feel the halwa is almost done and has reached fudge like consistency you could add some more ghee and milk and continue to slow cook until desired creaminess is achieved. I usually slow cook for almost 1.5 hours on low flame without any additional condensed milk or cream and then just before turning off the heat I add sugar, increase the flame to high and stir continuously for about 5-7 minutes till a fudge like texture is achieved
- Turn off the heat and serve hot garnished with dried fruits
Calories (per serving)- 180 Nutrition- Antioxidants/Beta-carotene/Fiber/Vitamin K/Potassium/Protein It does wonders for your-Diabetes/Cholesterol/Heart diseases/ Gut/ Skin/ Immunity/ Eyesight/ Bone health This is “My 8 am Meal”