Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gajar Halwa (Carrot pudding)

Next week is Diwali, the Indian festival of lights. Along with the lights comes the lighting of fire crackers and eating home made sweets. Gajar halwa is one of those sweets that my mom made during Diwali and I wanted to carry on the tradition with a tiny difference - hence made a batch of halwa.

Indian sweets in general are cloyingly sweet for most other palates and I prefer my desserts to be subtly sweet. So, in this version of gajar halwa the sugar content is less than the traditional fare, but the taste is as good. If you like your desserts very sweet, then you can increase the quantity of sugar to suit your taste.

It is an easy recipe, which just requires some patience. Shredded carrots are sauteed in clarified butter and cooked down with milk, cream, half and half (either or a mix of them) and flavored with cardamom seeds and garnished with dried fruits and nuts. The result is delicious. The halwa will last for at least a week refrigerated, but it is best served warm. [The microwave works best for that - just 10 seconds.]

Gajar Halwa

2 lbs organic carrots, peeled and shredded
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon ghee** or clarified butter
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
6 green cardamoms - seeds only
2 cups half and half
1 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup raisins
  1. Heat a large heavy bottomed skillet or dutch oven with 3 tablespoons ghee. Add the shredded carrots and cook over medium heat stirring every couple of minutes for about 10 minutes till the carrots have light brown edges and the raw smell of the carrot disappears.
  2. Add 2 cups and half and half and 1 cup of milk to the carrots and continue to cook till you are left with a wet mixture, but not soupy. This should take about 18 minutes. Please stir the mixture often to ensure that the carrots do not burn at the the bottom of the pan.
  3. Add sugar and the cardamom seeds and cook for another 15 minutes till the mixture is almost dry but not too dry as it will dry up further while it cools.
  4. In the meantime, in a small saute pan, dry roast the almonds over medium heat for about 5 minutes till they are golden, but not burnt. Remove and set aside to cool. Heat 1 teaspoon ghee in the same pan and saute the raisins for  a minute or two.
  5. Finally add the sauteed raisins and the toasted almonds and mix.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Makes 8 to 10 medium sized  servings

** ghee is available in all Indian grocery stores, on-line link as above or you could make your own. Click here for Recipe.

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