Winters and its bounties are many and if I had to pick one I think there would be a tie between fresh fenugreek leaves and red Delhi carrots! In fact I did not even know until very recently (courtesy co-bloggers from Instagram) that the red variety of carrots are called by this special name, no clue why though! If you happen to find out some how please share. Anyway, come winter and these red carrots, I cannot wait to make the family favorite Gaajar Halwa- a creamy fudgy dessert, made with full fat milk, carrots and a hint of sugar, most of the sweetness in the dessert imparted by the carrots themselves. Interestingly, although eaten widely in the Indian sub-continent, this dessert has its roots in the Arabic world, brought to India by the Mughals. In fact the word “halwa” itself means sweet in Arabic. It is beautiful how Indian cooking has been modified by every external influence and has amalgamated the best of all worlds yet retaining its originality and authenticity. So, I feel, that there is none like Indian cuisine for its sheer variety, complexity, delicacy and most importantly nutrition. It is about time we Indians own our food and take pride in its numerous health benefits perfectly balanced by its flavors.
And do not hesitate to try hot halwa with a dollop of chilled vanilla ice cream- you will be amazed how good it tastes! Here is a recipe for the halwa, passed on to me by my grandmother to my mother and then to me; I try my best to do justice to this heirloom recipe.
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”