Gajar ka Halwa is one of those recipes that opens up a treasure of fond memories, every time it is cooked in my kitchen. Personally, for me it is least about its rich taste and most about the moments that have gone into making it ever since I saw my grandma spend hours and sometimes a whole day on a chulha, perfecting this delicacy.
It has been a ritual in my maternal grandparent’s home to prepare Gajar ka Halwa on the 31st of December every year, to greet and treat everyone a ‘Happy New Year’ with a bite of this sumptuous delight.
The love and labor that my grandma poured in the wok, grating a mountain of carrots, stirring a large wok, never complaining even if her shoulder hurt with the sheer movement of the ladle in the large wok, narrating stories of her own childhood and that of my mother, aunts and uncles in the chilling winters; each of those are etched as a cherished life-lesson in my memory.
Maybe, because I was very young when I lost my grandma, that those moments froze in my mind as memories, as has the taste, that my palate yearns to recreate despite the fact that my mother is a fabulous cook herself. It might sound strange, but I feel, no two families cook the Gajar ka Halwa identically. There is something in the layers of this very simple recipe that magically alters the taste of the final product.
In my quest to recreate the flavour of my Naani‘s (maternal grandma) recipe, I have tried re-inventing the age-old recipe on a number of occasions. Every time the outcome was delightful, loved by the family, recipe asked for, but in my heart, I am always scoring it against the perfect ten of my grandma.
Among the many versions of this recipe that I know, one is where the grated carrots are first fried in ghee for a considerable amount of time, till all its moisture is lost and then Mawa/ Khoya (dried, thickened milk) is crumbled and added with sugar. This heightens the calories but gifts the halwa a deep colour.
Second is where the grated carrots are boiled in a sugar syrup till they are coated well and the water evaporates completely, then little ghee and dry fruits are added.
The third and recently very popular recipe is cooking it quickly in a microwave.
Though there are many ways of cooking this traditional recipe, the following is the way I make it, that recreates its traditional flavour rich, but limits the amount of ghee added while enticing every taste bud to crave for more.
Gajar ka Halwa:
Servings – 10
Difficulty Level – Medium
- Carrots – 2 kg
- Milk (Full Cream) – 1.5 kg
- Sugar – 150 g (to be adjusted suiting personal liking)
- Desi Ghee (clarified butter) – 3 tbsp
- Cardamom pods – 4
- Cashew nuts (halved) – 1 cup
- Raisins – 1/2 cup
- Almonds (slivered) – 1/2 cup
- Pistachios (slivered) – 1/4 cup (optional)
- Varq (silver foil) – optional
- Wash the carrots thoroughly under running water to ensure all dirt and soil is washed away. Peel and grate them. To grate a large number of carrots, I use the food processor however you may choose to grate them on a grater too.
- In a thick bottomed, large wok, boil the full cream milk. Once the milk comes to a boil, gradually add the grated carrots till all carrots are coated well in the milk.
- Keeping the flame at medium, stirring occasionally to ensure all carrots are constantly in touch with the reducing milk and to ensure that mixture has not started to burn.
- Be patient till all of the milk is absorbed by the grated carrots. Now add the desi ghee and stir well for 15 to 20 minutes until the carrots are toasted well and ghee uniformly coats the carrots.
- Add the almonds, raisins, cardamom seeds powdered and cashew nuts soon after adding ghee to let them toast well in it.
- Now add sugar and stir well till all of the water left by it on melting, dries off and then let the prepared halwa rest for 15 minutes with the flame turned off.
Garnish with slivered pistachios and varq (silver foil) and serve hot.
Pari is not very fond of eating desserts and despises nuts in them, so I add all the dry fruits in the end after taking out her portion.
How do you make the Gajar ka Halwa?
Find more recipes from my kitchen here.