Monday, September 26, 2011
Gajar Halwa/ Indian Carrot Pudding
Pick any Bollywood movie of the 70s or 8os and in all probability, the script would have a long-suffering mother who has battled poverty and other evils and injustices to raise a son on whom she has pinned all her hopes. And whenever that prodigal/recalcitrant/obedient/law-abiding (choose any one – just take your pick) but dutiful and mother-worshipping (absolutely necessary and essential qualities) would return from his studies in a boarding school/ a spell in the jail/ deputation at work (again, take your pick), this long-suffering and sometimes ailing mother would make some ‘halwa’ for her beloved son.
So what is 'halwa'? Halwa is originally an Arabic word meaning a sweet confection. Typically, it is made of either flour or nuts or fruits or even vegetables cooked in copious amounts of butter or ghee and sweetened with either sugar, jaggery or honey.
From Argentina to Ukraine, different countries have their own versions of halwa; in India, the more popular ones are sooji ka halwa (semolina halwa), moong dal halwa, atte ka halwa (whole wheat flour halwa), doodhi halwa (bottle gourd halwa) and gajar halwa (carrot halwa).
Coming back to Bollywood movies and halwa, I don't recall any movie ever mentioning what halwa the mother cooked for her son but I had this firm belief that the said halwa was none other than gajar ka halwa.
Probably because gajar ka halwa was, and still is, my favourite halwa.
You need all of 6 ingredients to make gajar ka halwa: carrots, milk, sugar, ghee, raisins and cardamom powder.
Oh and I forgot to mention - you also need plenty of elbow grease. After all, the carrots need to be grated. Well, yes. You need grated carrots. No, there are no short-cuts(unless you have a food processor, of course).
Gajar Halwa/ Indian Style Carrot Pudding
Grated carrots: 4 cups
Low fat evaporated milk: 2 cups
Fresh milk: ½ cup
Sugar: ½ cup (adjust the quantity as per your taste and the sweetness of the carrots. Normally, this amount works for us)
Raisins: 1 tbsp
Cardamom pods: 10, powdered
Ghee: 1/3 cup
Melt 2 tbsps of the ghee in a wok. Add in the carrots and sauté in the ghee till they start to change colour. Then, pour in the milk (both evaporated and fresh milk) and simmer the carrots in the milk, stirring occasionally, till the milk almost (but not completely) evaporates.
Add the sugar, cardamom powder and the raisins and stir constantly (at this stage, you need to continuously stir the halwa, else it will stick to the bottom of the pan) till all the liquid dries up and the halwa starts to come off the sides of the pan. Taste and adjust the sweetness as per your palate preference.
Finally, add the remaining ghee and stir briskly for a minute.
Garnish with slivered almonds or pistachios.
Most people like to have gajar ka halwa hot, but I love to have it chilled. Have it any which way you please, but remember, thinking of diets when digging into the halwa is absolutely forbidden!
Sending this to Raks who is hosting Nivedita's Celebrate Sweets: Sweets/Desserts with Fruits and Vegetables
It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!
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