Even though the list is long, this is possibly one of my MOST favourite Indian desserts – Gajar ka Halwa!
Gajar ka Halwa or Gajrela or Gajar Pak or Carrot Pudding is a traditional Indian dessert, usually prepared in the Northern states of India during the winter months. The ingredients used in Gajar ka Halwa are hot in nature and help keeping the body warm.
Gajar ka Halwa tastes best made with the sweet, red carrots available for a short time (a month, maybe) during winters. These red carrots are juicier, have a mellow flavour, sweeter than the other varieties, so you need less added sugar as well.
Gajar ka Halwa is best made with carrots that have a thinner vein in the middle, which makes it less fibrous and easier to grate. If it makes things easier for you, feel free to use a food processor to mince / fine chop the carrots for Gajrela.
You could make Gajar ka Halwa with the orange carrots available all year, it just won’t taste the same, even with insane amounts of added sugar or mava or nuts. Been there, done that!
My version of Gajar ka Halwa is slightly low on ghee, you could add a couple of tablespoons more if you like to make it richer.
You could also alternate the quantities of milk and mava – more milk : less mava or less milk : more mava. Substitute mava / khoya with condensed milk if that is easier to source.
The trick to great tasting Gajar ka Halwa is to add the sugar in the middle of the cooking process, letting it caramelise a little by the time your Gajrela is cooked.
Another delicious traditional Indian dessert perfect for winters is Moong Dal Halwa.
Time taken: 45-60 minutes
Ingredients to make Gajar ka Halwa
1 kg red carrots, grated
500 ml (half litre) full fat milk
1 cup sugar
100 gms mava / khoya
2-3 tbsp ghee
½ tsp cardamom powder / elaichi powder
½ cup nuts (I used almonds and cashews)
2-3 tbsp raisins
A pinch of salt
Method of making Gajar ka Halwa
Wash, clean and grate the red carrots. You could also mince / fine chop these in a food processor, if that works for you. I like to give my arms a bit of a workout and grate them.
Place the grated carrots in a kadhai / thick bottom vessel on medium high heat. Cook the carrots till some of the water dries, about 4-5 minutes. Do not strain the water (before or while cooking), as that is what lends sweetness and flavour to Gajar ka Halwa.
Add milk to the carrots and mix well. Continue to cook on medium heat till the milk reduces to half the quantity, stirring occasionally. Keep scraping the sides to avoid the mix from sticking or burning.
Once the milk is reduced, add sugar. The sugar also releases its liquid and adding sugar at this point will allow it to cook completely by the time the Gajar ka Halwa is ready.
Continue to cook the halwa for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally. Once most of the liquid dries up, add the mava / khoya and give it a good mix. I like to grate or crumble the mava before adding it to my recipe of Gajar ka Halwa, as it melts sooner and mixes in better. Add a pinch of salt to balance and enhance the sweetness.
Once the mava is mixed in, taste and adjust (add) sugar at this stage, if necessary. After this point, the bhuno-ing and caramelisation process starts.
Once the mava is well incorporated, add ghee and continue to cook the Gajrela.
After a couple of minutes, add the cardamom powder, nuts and raisins. Mix everything well, turn the heat up at little and cook for another minute or so.
Your Gajar ka Halwa is ready once it is dry-ish and the sugar is completely cooked (sort of caramelised).
Gajar ka Halwa tastes great served both, warm or chilled. Warm Gajar ka Halwa goes well with a scoop (or more!) or vanilla ice-cream too.
If it lasts that long, Gajar ka Halwa stores well for a week or so when refrigerated. Warm it in smaller lots, as required, and serve.
Take a look at the other traditional Indian dessert recipes and quick & simple meal ideas.
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