Blink and February is here.The(so-called) month of love where you see heart shaped balloons all over the place and heart shaped anything is up for sale,except the heart of course;).I would have loved to bake a cliched heart shaped cake,cookie etc,but since that is not possible right away,I thought of this ever-popular Indian sweet Gajar ka halwa aka Carrot halwa.
Of all the halwas I've eaten,I would say my sis-in-law Soumya's halwa is the best[and no this is not to soap-marofy her,she doesn't read my blog;)].It is of the right consistency,not overtly sweet and just perfect on its own.Some time back when Ajay was home,she sent me a small dabba of gajar halwa neatly packed and it was gone before you could even spell gajar halwa,it was that good.
Armed with a kilo of carrots,I called her up and asked the recipe for the umpteenth time while preparing it.I should say it tasted great,but it didn't match hers in comparison.Since I am not giving up trailing the-perfect-gajar-halwa,I decided to try it again,this time using Delhi carrots.
Like she told me-grate the carrots,cook in enough milk,add sugar and finally add ghee when it dries up.Garnish with nuts if you like,that's it.Oh,I wish it was as easy to make!!Thanks to my food processor,grating the carrots was a 2 minute job.Or else it would have taken the joy out of making this one.
Gajar ka Halwa - Carrot Pudding
Delhi carrots(or regular ones) - 500 gms
Milk - 500 ml,boiled
Sugar - 1 heaped cup
Ghee - 3 tbsp or more according to your taste
Cashewnuts - 10-12,chopped
Cardamom - seeds of 2,crushed
Saffron - a few strands
Wash and scrub the carrots well under running water.Snip the ends and peel.Grate using the medium grater attachment of your food processor.Or use a box grater.
In a thick bottomed kadai(I used non-stick),add a tbsp of ghee and saute the carrots for 3-5 minutes,or till the carrots become slightly pale.
Add milk and give a good stir.Simmer the gas and let the carrots cook in the milk on a low flame.Stir once in a while.It will take anywhere from 30-40 minutes to dry up,so it helps if you are using a non-stick pan.
Mix in the sugar and stir well.The mixture will again liquefy now and change in colour.Let the sugar dry up now-about 7-12 minutes.Now add ghee a tsp at a time till the carrots gets a nice glaze and dry up completely.A little liquid at the bottom of the pan is fine since it will continue to cook as it cools down.
In another pan,add a tsp of ghee and roast the chopped cashews till they turn golden brown in colour.Now mix in the roasted cashews and the crushed cardamom to the cooked carrots.
Crush a few saffron strands in your palm and mix in that too(not in the picture).Let it cool for a while.
- You could try making the same halwa using regular carrots too.I've tried with both and personally did not find a great difference in taste.Another variation is using grated beetroots in place of carrots,a red halwa-perfect for valentines!!
- I would strongly recommend using a non-stick pan since the stirring procedure is minimal.You could go on with your regular chores and need to check this only once in 5-7 minutes or so-something not possible with a regular kadai.
- Milkmaid/condensed milk could also be used to enhance the taste and texture.If you do,adjust the sugar accordingly.
- If you like the flavor of cloves,add a couple into the milk while cooking the carrots and remove them once the halwa is ready.
- Garnishing with nuts is optional as I feel the halwa tastes equally great without it too.