recipe

Gajar Ka Halwa: the traditional Indian recipe for making carrot halwa

Total time: 40 Min
Difficulty: Low
Serves: 4 people
By Cookist
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Ingredients
Carrots
500 g
Milk
2 cups (1 cup for Instant pot)
Sugar
1/2 cup
Cardamom powder
1/2 tsp
ghee, divided
2 tbsp
mixed nuts (pistachios, cashews, almonds)
Raisins

Gajar ka halwa, better known as gajar halwa or carrot halwa, is a typical North Indian dessert. It is made from grated carrots that are simmered along with whole milk, sugar, ghee and flavored with cardamom powder. Quick and easy to make, you will not regret to enjoy this delicious, sweet dish and its irresistible flavor.

It is a kind of rich, creamy carrot pudding, an old-fashioned recipe that is often prepared at home during winter, when carrots are in season. Gajar halwa is very popular in India and is served hot or warm during buffets, parties and special occasions like Lohri celebrations. This classic dessert is so called because the Indian word gajar means "carrot" in English, while halwa stands for a pudding-like dessert in the Southern part of India.

Making carrot halwa is much easier than it sounds. Although it's a dessert, you don't need eggs or a leavening agent. The key is to slowly cook the carrots to help the liquids evaporate. Remember that you just need to stir often to get that amazing pudding-like texture.

To make a traditional gajar ka halwa you can experiment with various cooking methods, from the classic stove, or using the instant pot, milk powder or khoya. For best results, try looking for typical Delhi carrots which are very sweet and juicy, otherwise you can use regular carrots as well. Just make sure carrots are fresh, tender and less fibrous, so they will be sweet.

What is Halwa?

The word halwa is part of the Indian culinary vocabulary, but it derives from an Arab term which means "sweet". Therefore it refers to desserts made with ghee and sugar, and served during special occasions.

It is a sort of Indian pudding served as a dessert, although it includes among its main ingredients noodles, grains or vegetables such as carrots. Do not confuse halwa with halva of the Middle East which is instead a candy made of sesame seeds.

How to make Gajar Ka Halwa

To make a perfect gajar halwa start with the carrots. Wash, peel and grate them finely with the help of a food processor. In a double-bottomed saucepan over low heat or in a slow cooker, crisp up the nuts like pistachios, almonds, cashews, then chop them once cooled. Set aside.

In the same now-empty pot, pour in the milk and bring it to a boil. Add grated red carrots and ghee. Cook over medium heat until the milk evaporates completely, stirring occasionally to avoid burning the bottom of the pot or the mixture sticking to the bottom.

When the milk has evaporated, add the sugar and one tablespoon of ghee. Stir until the mixture thickens and has a pudding-like texture, then add the cardamom powder. Garnish with dried fruit and raisins, and serve hot or warm.

Can you make Gajar Halwa with Condensed Milk?

Yes! You can make gajar halwa with 1/2 cup of condensed milk, just leave out the milk and sugar from the original recipe ingredients.

In a hot pan add a tablespoon of ghee and fry the nuts and raisins, then set aside. Add the carrots to the pan, pour in the condensed milk, start stirring to release the moisture.

Cover and cook over medium heat until the mixture becomes soft, then add the cardamom powder, ghee. Sauté and stir until the milk evaporates, then garnish with walnuts and raisins and finally serve the gajar ka halwa hot or warm.

Gajar Ka Halwa with Milk Powder

You can make gajar halwa with a cup of milk powder. This is the dry version of milk that you can find in supermarkets. As for the amounts of ingredients used in the classic recipe, reduce the whole milk to 1/3 cup.

The recipe to follow is more or less always the same. Add the grated carrots to a thick-bottomed pot or slow cooker, pour in the milk and cook over low heat until the red carrots are soft. When the carrots are tender, add the sugar and let it melt on a low flame. This is when you need to add the milk powder and incorporate it into the mixture.

Keep stirring on the flame until the mixture evaporates, then adjust the sugar, add cardamom powder and garnish with walnuts and raisins before serving.

How to make Carrot Halwa in the Instant Pot

If you don't have time to follow the whole carrot halwa process, you can also use an Instant pot. it's a much easier cooking method to follow since you don't even have to stir.

Add the grated carrots, whole milk, sugar, ghee to the Instant Pot container. Quickly stir the ingredients with a spoon, then seal with the lid, release the valve and pressure cook for about 3 minutes.

When you hear the beep, you can release the valve and open the lid. Stir, then press the cancel button and then the sauté button. Let cook for up to 10 minutes or until the mixture sets, stirring occasionally. Now add nuts, raisins, cardamom powder, stir and serve.

Can you make Gajar Halwa with Khoya?

If you don't have a lot of time to make this recipe, you can use 1/2 cup of khoya for your gajar halwa since it calls for a less amount of milk – about 1 cup.

As always, roast or fry the nuts and raisins in a pan with a tablespoon of ghee, then set aside and add the finely grated carrots and milk. Cook over low heat until the carrots are soft and the milk has evaporated. Remember to stir occasionally.

Now add the khoya and sugar, stir and continue to cook until the mixture thickens. Stir in the ghee, sauté for a few minutes, then turn off the flame and garnish with nuts and raisins before serving.

Expert Tips for a Perfect Carrot Halwa

It is best not to leave out ghee as it brings out a nice, bright color.

Be careful not to fry the gajar in the ghee, but cook the carrots with the milk otherwise the carrot halwa might turn black.

How to store Gajar Halwa

You can store gajar ka halwa in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You can also freeze it for about 3 weeks.

Before serving, reheat it directly on the stovetop on low heat, stirring often. You can also reheat carrot halwa in the microwave, mixing every 30 seconds.

Instructions

Wash red carrots under running water. Peel them with a sharp knife, then finely grate carrots in a food processor or using a hand grater.

In a heavy bottom pot, roast nuts until crunchy, then chop them. On the other hand, you can fry them with raisins and a tablespoon of ghee. Set aside.

In the same pot, bring milk to a boil, then add the carrots.

Cook on a medium heat and stir often until the milk evaporates.

Now, add the sugar, stir and cook until it melts. Add the ghee, then stir.

Sauté the mixture until the moisture evaporates and thickens. Add the cardamom powder.

Garnish with nuts and raisins, then serve carrot halwa hot or warm. Enjoy!

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