A rich and fragrant spiced carrot dessert, popular throughout India.
Carrot halwa (Gajjar ka halwa), is a wonderful lightly spiced North Indian dessert, made with carrots, cardamom, milk and sugar.
It is probably the most popular of all halwas. In winter it is served warm, or on warmer days with a scoop of ice cream.
It is slow cooked over a low flame and takes roughly 40 minutes to make.
The flavours come together beautifully creating an aromatic, rich and creamy dessert with a slightly chewy texture.
For best results, use full cream (whole) milk, rather than semi-skimmed.
Heat the milk with crushed cardamoms, then strain the seeds away and set the milk aside. The aroma is wonderful – similar to that of kheer (Indian rice-pudding).
To make the halwa, use a large heavy iron skillet as it holds the heat well on a low flame.
The carrots are cooked in butter till softened, not browned. As they cook, they begin to caramelize, with a richer more intense flavour.
Adjust the amount of sugar according to the sweetness of the carrots and to taste.
Add half the cardamom flavoured milk, sugar, cinnamon, clove, saffron water and salt and simmer till reduced. The salt helps accentuate the flavours.
Next, add the rest of the milk and reduce again till you have a rice pudding consistency (not too dry).
Stir in the créme fraîche and reduce again, till no longer runny.
To make it vegan
Use ghee, and substitute milk with 3 cups of almond milk.
Reheat before serving or bring to room temperature and serve with a scoop of ice cream.
It will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost in the fridge overnight.
More Indian desserts to try
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- a pinch saffron strands
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons ghee or butter
- 3 cups carrots grated
- 3 cups milk whole
- 2 cardamoms crushed
- 1/4 sugar
- a pinch cinnamon powder
- 1 clove crushed
- a pinch salt
- 1/2 cup créme fraîche or cream
- Crush and soak the saffron in 2 tablespoons of water for 20 minutes.
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk and cardamom pods. Once it comes to a boil, turn off the heat, remove the crushed cardamom pods and set aside.
- In a large skillet, melt the ghee/butter and add the carrots. Stir and cook over a low heat till softened (approx. 7 minutes).
- Pour in half the milk, then add sugar, the saffron and its water, cinnamon, crushed clove and salt, stirring occasionally till reduced.
- Add the remaining milk and gently simmer till there is no liquid left.
- Stir in the créme fraîche and reduce till the halwa is no longer runny. Serve warm or cold.