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Gajar ka Halwa (Carrot Halwa)



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A warm bowl of Gajar ka Halwa brings in more than the tiding memories of taste and flavors of this sweet, cardamom flavored confection. It is a wave emotions of a mother daughter relation, and close binding times which might have felt to be just a part of the chore in a day then, but feels very different now.

All I feel like doing right now is putting  those perfect moments in writing; simple things, but not there anymore – times of laughter, as I picked through the shredded carrots, stuffing some juicy fistfuls in my mouth and talked with ma of this and that. We took turns shredding and grating the carrots, ma and me.


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I do not remember what we talked of. It must have been something trivial; school, and friends. The chores that we did together matter much more now than it did some twenty some years back. It is the glimpses of these little things in life that makes food all the more special; not just the tradition, the spices, the nutty bites that blends with the tenderly cooked carrots, but ma’s smile, the way she stirred the halwa or peeled the nuts, the love and the unseen trickling effect of the stories of the generations of the past and may be more to come.

Being in a mom’s role now, I realize through my intertwined memories how special the little moments are. A few conversations, a little joke, watching a sunset together, or wetting our feet as the waves dances back and forth in glee, as the toes squirm with the sand between them are all going to be memories someday – life is transient, a drop in this eternal vastness.


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Gajar ka Halwa could be a year round dessert loved by all, but the carrots are fresh as the temperature cools down; starting from the month of October, until the end of winter.


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The beginning of the autumn also means stepping in to a thread  of religious festivals in India and new beginnings. We are in the midst of celebrating Navratri and Durga Pooja, during this time and looking forward to Diwali. I extend my warmest wishes to all my readers and my friends.

The religious festivals in India, and mostly the time of Diwali and the peak winter in December and January are the times when this Halwa is at its best – warm in a bowl, warming the fingers that wraps around it on a wintry night and adding a glow to the hearts putting a smile and cheer on every face.


Carrot Halwa, Indian Dessert, gajar ka halwa, carrot confection, sweet confection, gajar halwa recipe, how to make gajar halwa



Gajar ka Halwa (Carrot Halwa)


Ingredients: (serves 4-6)

  1. 1 lb carrots, washed and chopped in small pieces or coarsely grated  or shredded
  2. 3 tablespoon ghee + 1 tablespoon ghee
  3. 3/4 cup sugar (or to taste)
  4. 10 small green cardamom, shell removed and the seeds finely powdered
  5. 2 cups milk (or 1 cup milk + 1/2 cup condensed milk)
  6. 1/4 Khoya/Solidified Milk* (Optional)
  7. a good pinch of saffron (optional)
  8. 1/2 cup nuts, (I have used almonds, but a mix of almond and cashews may be used too) + more for garnish
  9. 2 tablespoons golden raisins or chopped dates (optional)



Preparation:

Note:

Personally I do not like to shred the carrot as thin shredding leads to mushing up the carrots after they get cooked and the final dish loses all texture. I coarsely chop the carrots in a food processor; that way the carrots are softened enough during the long cooking process but still retain the bite and the feel. But it is a matter of taste.

Use less sugar if you are using condensed milk.

* Some recipes use Khoya, (solidified milk) to have a more creamy feel. I never use Khoya mostly because all of us prefer the lighter taste which highlights the carrots and is not overwhelmed by the feel and taste of dairy. If you are using Khoya (available in Indian grocery stores), use about 1/4 cup for the above proportions and add it to the pan while the carrots are cooking.

In a nutshell, the Carrot Halwa can be made with only milk, a combination of milk and condensed milk or a combination of milk, condensed milk and Khoya.

Now to the process:

Heat a heavy bottomed pan. Add 1 tablespoon ghee and add the nuts; toast them lightly and remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the carrots and cardamom powder to the same pan. Cook while stirring and tossing for about 3-5 minutes. Add sugar and cook for about five more minutes. Add milk (or milk + condensed milk), (Khoya if you are using), and saffron and continue to cook at low to medium heat; keep stirring and tossing the carrots to prevent the milk and the carrots from burning and sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Cook until almost all the milk is evaporated and the carrot is softened to almost a mush, which should take between 45 minutes to an hour. Add raisins or dates, lightly toasted nuts and mix. Add the rest of the ghee. Cook for another fifteen minutes, while stirring constantly until the mix is dry and there is no liquid left. The carrots will have turned a shade darker and will entire mix will leave the sides of the pan.

Remove from heat and transfer to a serving bowl. This may be reheated in the microwave or on the stove top on a pan.

(Carrot Halwa is usually served slightly warm, scooped out. But if you want to make little squares out of them, remove the halwa from the pan on a lightly greased (with ghee or butter) plate. Spread the halwa to about 3/4 inch thick and smooth out the top. After the halwa cools, cut in squares/diamonds.)

Garnish with cashew nuts or sliced almonds. Serve with Vanilla Ice Cream if you want.



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Related Posts:

Patishapta: Crepes with sweet Coconut Cardamom Filling

Sabudana Kheer: Tapioca Pudding with Saffron and Nuts

Semolina and Almond Halwa

Besan ki Burfi – A Chickpea Fudge?


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25 comments to Gajar ka Halwa (Carrot Halwa)

  • What a wonderful treat! I’ve never had carrot halwa, but I’m sure I’d like that candy.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  • What a wonderful way to celebrate a seasonal produce with a delicious carrot halwa. Happy festivities Soma!

  • This is my MIL’s favorite. Am bookmarking this just in case I need to surprise her with something!

  • Anh

    Stunning! It is carrot halwa that makes me fall in love with Indian cuisine! (okay, butter chicken, too!) :)

  • Radhika

    Truly stunning clicks. Just made me fall in love all over the halwa again.


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  • Beautiful memories u shared there ! Subho Durga Puja to you too :) Nothing more perfect than Gajar Ka Halwa for celebration.

  • So colorful and Stunning pics… I like the idea of presenting it in squares.

  • Gorgeous Soma. Gajar halwa is my absolute favorite Indian dessert- it’s the first thing I look for on an Indian restaurant menu! Hope you and your family have a wonderful Diwali :)

  • lovely color.. it gets the tastebuds moving instantly.. truly stunning pictures soma!:)
    i am missing the red carrots from back home.. the orange ones dont make as deep a halwa color! Have a wonderful festive season.. gosh all this month is full of celebration!

  • I have seen and read many gajar ka halwa recipes so far in this blog world,but have to admit the fact that I couldn’t get to read such touching,hearty lines on that scrumptious halwa.I am proud to nod to what you have written here,about the pretty memories,the warmth of relations this ‘food factor’ is bringing us.I love the way you pen it.Cheers Soma !

    The halwa pieces have come out so well and the presentation is classic as usual.Slurp !

  • I love deeply rooted dishes like this one. I have a lot of memories of Korean dishes too that bring me back to my mom.

  • Oh…I love this Gajar Halwa in those square slices!

  • Your photos are beautiful! My parents love Halwa and the Carrot version is their favorite. This looks simply divine.

  • What a wonderful way to honor those wonderful memories you made with your mother growing up!

  • Durga Pujor onek shubhechcha Soma.

  • Sreeparna

    Hi Soma, How about a post or two on Durga Puja meals?

  • I’ve never tasted anything like this before but it does look beautiful. I love the vibrant color Soma… And love your photos too!

  • What beautiful memories :D Your halwa looks amazing and I love the vibrant colour. I especially love the photo of the carrots.

  • Soma, tomader sakoler jonyo roilo bijoyar aek shubhechha ar bhalobasa. khub bhalo thako.

  • Arunima

    Shubho Bijoya Soma…I hope you had a good Pujo celebration there :) .
    I had a question regarding gajar halwa…when you made the squares with the halwa, any idea how many squares they amounted too – I mean 1 lb of gajar created how many halwa squares at the end ?

    very little.. 15 -18 less than an inch size squares.. i had set in an 8″ plate ( approx.)..Between 4 of us, it was gone pretty quick. It would not serve more than 3-4 and that too in small servings. HTH! and Subho Bijoya to you too!

  • Arunima

    Thanks for the reply Soma. Yeah, a friend is trying to make halwa for 120+ people but I am used to doing the halwa by eyeballing based on the number of carrots I have. So I was trying to use your recipe as a reference to extrapolate the amount accordingly . Thanks again.

  • Archie

    My carrot halwa became hard, I had to add more milk.
    While cooking it does the flame have to be medium or high?

    Sorry about that! It will get hard if it is over cooked (esp. after adding the sugar.. the candy effect) or if the milk evaporates before the carrot cooks. The procedure in the recipe does mention to cook between low to medium heat. The high heat will scorch the halwa and also make the liquid evaporate faster than needed leaving the carrot uncooked. Do adjust your milk as needed. The amount might not be exact as it depends on stovetops and what heat you are cooking on, how long and also the water content in the carrots. Watch carefully and cook slowly until the carrots are cooked through. Hope this helps.

  • Gajar Ka halwa

    Just made it with my mom and it turned out so well! I want to post a photo but this thing won’t let me!
    Thanks for your amazing recipe:)

    Thank you so much for trying!! You can email me the photo or you can post in the Facebook page!

  • Adrienne

    I have just finished making some carrot halwa, the first time after 20 years, when my Indian mum taught me how to make it. Reading your reflections on how cooking this brings back memories of cooking it with your mother, I was so touched and recognised myself here! Sadly, my mum passed away 2 years ago; it would have been her birthday yesterday and I enjoyed the feeling of making the halwa in her honour. I’m taking it to a dinner party this evening (I live in Italy) where a video will be shown of my friends’ trip to India a few months ago.

    Hugs to you.

  • Soma,
    I had leftovers of carrot shavings from using my juicer and thought why not try to make gajjar halwa? My fiance is Indian and I like the food. I came across your site and I thought it very elegant and well-done. I found the recipe and have made it half a dozen times since. He approves as does his Aunt and family, which is a great compliment!
    I continue to make this and it is a perfect recipe!! You are my “to go to” person for desi recipes. I’m attempting kheer today.
    Thanks a lot!!! Best wishes :)

    Thank you SO much!!

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