Gajar ka Halwa

Rich Carrot Dessert Porridge with Cardamom+ Cashews

This dessert is easy to make. It requires patience, but no skill. It’s also grain-free, and about 50% vegetable; rich with dairy, and sweet with jaggery. Toddlers love it. Grown-ups devour it. “Gajar” (carrot) halwa may be the most familiar halwa, but you can also make halwa from beets, summer squash, even grains or red lentils. 

You’ll see other gajar ka halwas that are golden-reddish-amber in color, glowing and almost translucent. Meanwhile, this one is a little dusky. That’s because they use white sugar, and we use dark, rich jaggery. Also, we don’t peel the carrots. Trust me: this one is pretty enough, and it also tastes better. Plus, it’s more nutritious. I love jaggery, by the way. It has such a rich flavor. I make ice cream with it. I make cobblers with it. It’s the secret ingredient in the Debra’s kitchen oatmeal raisin cookies.

ANYWAYS — you can serve halwa warm or cold. You can even press it flat into a casserole pan about an inch deep, and chill it so it firms up. Then you cut it into rectangles or trapezoids for serving, like brownies you eat by hand. I strongly suggest serving it warm and soft, with a spoon, with vanilla ice cream.

Serves 8 nicely

¼-½ cup cow ghee ¼ C cashews or combination raw nuts
2 pounds carrots, grated medium fine 6 cups whole milk
1+ cup jaggery (crude unrefined sugar)1 generous tsp cardamon powder

Optional: 10 saffron threads, ¼ C golden raisins

Optional Substitutions: coconut milk for milk (use less); date or maple sugar for jaggery; coconut oil for ghee.  You can also use a spiced ghee like the chai-infused ghee from Ahara Rasa, new on our shelves this month.

1. Melt 1 Tbsp ghee over low heat in a large, wide, heavy bottom pot. (Wide and heavy are both important. Wide, so step 2 reduces faster. Heavy, so nothing burns).  Fry the cashews, stirring constantly. Then stir in the optional raisins until plump and shiny. Remove and set aside.       

2. To the same pot, add carrots, milk, and optional saffron. Cook at medium, stirring frequently, until milk has almost fully absorbed/evaporated.  You’ll see that when you push or stir the halwa aside, the liquid doesn’t fill back in again. This may take an hour.  

3. Add jaggery, and the halwa will become syrupy again. Cook until the jaggery is mostly absorbed, another 5 or so minutes. Use a little more jaggery if your carrots weren’t very sweet to begin with. 

4. Add the remaining ghee, and cardamon powder. Cook 4-5 more minutes. Garnish with nuts and raisins. You can do it up all pretty and geometrical like in the photo, or just scatter them.   

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