Carrot halwa (or gajar ka halwa) is an Indian pudding made with carrots and nuts and spiced with cardamom. It is a stellar treat that you should learn to make right now because it is simply that fantastic.
I first learned about carrot halwa when I had it hot off of the buffet at an Indian restaurant. It was this soothing porridge that I ate in the company of good friends and it somehow made returning to my desk job (in my pre-blogging days) tolerable.
If you prefer your desserts cold, you can chill it and turn it into bite-sized carrot halwa bars. The recipe below contains instructions on how to make those as well.
What Makes Carrot Halwa Amazing
The recipe is made without food coloring. It gets its orange flavor from the abundance of carrots that are used in the recipe.
It is warm and sweet and rich, containing ghee (clarified butter), cashews, almonds, pistachios, cardamom, milk, cheese, and (of course) sugar. The flavor and spices combined with the dish’s warmth calms me right down.
You’ll need the following ingredients to make this dessert:
- sliced almonds
- ricotta cheese
- dried milk
- ground cardamom
- shelled pistachios
How to Make Carrot Halwa
Start off by microwaving finely chopped carrots for ten minutes in an airtight microwave-safe dish.
While your carrots are steaming away, heat up ghee in a heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium-low heat.
Fry cashews and almonds in the melted ghee until they are golden but not burnt. Use a slotted spoon to remove the nuts and reserve them for later.
Add cheese and dried milk to the ghee, stirring to combine.
Fry until the moisture evaporates and the cheese mixture just begins to brown.
Stir in cooked carrots and cook for two minutes.
Add milk, sugar, and cardamom, reduce heat to low, and cook until almost dry – between 10 and 20 minutes. Stir periodically to keep the bottom from scorching.
Finally, remove from heat, mix in the fried nuts, and either:
- put into bowls, garnish with crushed pistachios, and serve hot; or
- transfer into an 8″ square baking dish, garnish with crushed pistachios, chill, and cut into squares and serve.
(My recipe is modified from one that originally appeared on IndiaCurry.com.)
If You Like Indian Desserts…
Diwali (the Indian festival of lights) is a perfect time to celebrate Indian culture by making Indian desserts. But, really, any time will work since the desserts are so amazingly good. Some of my favorites are:
- Gulab jamun, dough balls soaked in syrup
- Kheer, fragrant rice pudding
- Mango custard, so refreshing on a scorching day!
Carrot Halwa (Gajar ka Halwa)
- 3 cups finely chopped carrots tightly packed
- 1/2 cup ghee You can make your own ghee or order it online if you can't find it near you.
- 1/4 cup cashews split into halves
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1 cup whole ricotta cheese
- 1 cup dried milk whole milk is best, but skim will work
- 1/4 cup milk whole milk is best, 2% is good, skim will work
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/4 cup shelled pistachios crushed
- Put carrots in a covered/airtight microwave-safe dish.
- Microwave for 10 minutes on high. Set aside.
- Melt ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan on medium-low heat.
- Fry cashews and almonds in the ghee until golden. Keep a close eye on them to ensure that they don't burn.
- Remove the nuts with a slotted spoon and set them aside.
- Add cheese and dried milk to the ghee and stir to combine.
- Fry till almost all the moisture is gone and the cheese just starts to turn brown.
- Add cooked carrots, stir to combine, and cook for two minutes.
- Add milk, sugar and cardamom. Stir. Cook on low heat until almost all the moisture is gone again. (The original instructions said that this should take about ten minutes, but it took me about twenty.) Stir periodically to keep from scorching the bottom.
- Remove from heat and mix in cashews and almonds.
- Serve the carrot halwa immediately, garnished with the pistachios; or, optionally, transfer the mixture into an 8" square baking pan, garnish with pistachios, cool to room temperature, and then refrigerate it. After two hours, cut it into bite-size squares and serve.