Frankly, I doubt there are many Indians who wouldn’t know about this particular dessert, considering it’s totally decadent and sinful and most of all, irresistible. Irresistible because even a carrot-hater like me cannot stop from pigging out…and decadent because of the ingredients used to prepare it, obviously. 😉
My earliest memories of eating Carrot Halwa or Gajar ka Halwa (Gajor er Halua in our case, as Bongs), are that of Mumbai’s nonexistent winters and Dad’s rushed preparation of it in that minuscule span when sweet, red carrots flooded the markets. And me, the despondent carrot-hater would beg for an encore, after polishing off my first serving. Of course, that was then, and these days the scare of calories and whatnot has seeped deep within our pores. But still, what is winter without at least ONE season of piping hot, sweet, sticky, Gajar ka Halwa?
The way Dad has made this has always been steadfast; he’d boil the shredded carrots in full-fat milk, let it reduce, soften and add khoya/mawa, sugar and nuts. Then he’d stir and stir and stir until the halwa becomes thick, gooey and cramelized. I don’t remember him ever cooking this in small quantities though!!
I miss eating Gajar ka Halwa like I did when I was young; these days the lack of time (mostly) and the will to slave over the stove, reducing kilos of carrots and liters of milk has all but disappeared. I wonder how our elders did it? I have heard stories of my Grandma’s Grandma cooking this for over 20 people, that too without any house help or cook! Phew! And to think these days we’re so tempted to use shortcuts…
Last year I had made a microwave version, with condensed milk, a little ghee (clarified butter), sugar and some milk. It was yummmm! Alas, I have no pics to fortify that fact. So this time, I wanted to make the halwa again. No shortcuts here though…this is Dad’s way, recreated by me..I’ve just added a couple of spoonfuls of ghee (clarified butter) for that fragrance.
Gajar ka Halwa/Gajor er Halua (Carrot Halwa)
- Tender carrots – 6 to 7, peeled and grated (about 3 cups)
- Full-fat milk – 4 to 5 cups (about a liter..I used a tetrapack of Amul Gold)
- Khoya/Mawa/Milk solids – 250 gms
- Ghee/Clarified butter – 2 tbsp
- Sugar – 1 cup or less, depending on how sweet the carrots are
- Cashews, almonds, raisins or pistachios – as per choice (I used some pistachios just for garnish)
- Grate the carrots using a food processor or hand-grater and keep aside.
- Heat a thick-bottomed pan, preferably a kadhai with a thick bottom, and add the carrots.
- Add the milk and let the carrots simmer in the milk on a medium-low flame; this will take about an hour depending on the quantity of carrots and milk.
- Keep stirring the carrots from time-to-time and scraping the sides of the kadhai.
- When the milk has reduced by almost 80%, add the grated khoya/mawa and mix it well.
- Keep stirring now as the halwa thickens, and add the sugar.
- Keeping heat on low, let the halwa turn fudge-like by constant stirring and scraping of the kadhai.
- When you see all the moisture from the halwa has evaporated, add the ghee and give a final stir.
- At this stage, you can fry the halwa some more (like Dad likes doing), or turn off the heat and pour halwa into serving platter.
- Garnish with silver leaf and nuts, and serve hot.
You may skip adding the mawa, we do as it gives a beautiful richness to the halwa.
You can add cardamom powder, saffron and nuts in the halwa.
If you are short on time, cook the halwa with condensed milk.