Carrot (Gajar) Halwa

27 Jan

Even though my mom loved her job in the States, one of the things I like best about her not working anymore is that whenever I come home, there’s sure to be some wonderful smell wafting through the house- and into the garage, so I can smell it (and know exactly what it is, for which I credit my commendable food-smelling skills) even before I go in! Coming home to some just-made food always excites me.

She usually makes Indian food, and though when I was younger (meaning just two years ago) I’d get “tired” of eating it, I’ve really grown to love and appreciate it. I take every opportunity to help in the kitchen, constantly amazed by my mom’s apparently innate mastery of countless spices and ability to make great food without even glancing at a recipe, as well as her free, dash-of-this and a handful-of-that style of cooking, starkly contrasting my careful adherence to recipes and meticulous measuring-out of ingredients.

My favorite kind of Indian food to come home to is, of course, sweets. Many people find Indian sweets overly sugary, and most of them really are super-sweet (not a problem for someone with my sweet-tooth, though)! But when my mom makes them at home, she can get the sugar just right. I love the suji kheer she makes with just a few simple ingredients: milk, semolina, sugar, and a little butter, along with some ground cardamom and sliced almonds for flavor. She follows no recipe, and yet it comes out perfect every time (the recipe will probably come soon)!

Today she didn’t make kheer, but she did make gajar halwa, a sort of Indian-carrot-cake made by boiling milk and carrots, then adding sugar and cardamom. Need I say it was irresistible?

Gajar ke halwa

Like I mentioned above, Indian cooking isn’t very exact and measured; there’s a lot of freedom, and it’s kind of nice! So keep in mind these are approximate measurements, and you can adjust it for YOUR preferred taste and consistency. The beauty of it is that it still tastes great even if the measurements are a little off (either that or my mom is psychotically good at “eyeing” measurements- I’m quite sure she’s not).

15 carrots, shredded (about six cups)

about 3 liters of milk (a mix of whole milk and low-fat)

1 cup sugar (start with 1/2 cup, and adjust to taste)

raisins and nuts (whichever kinds and however much you want- walnuts taste especially good, as do cashews and sliced almonds)

2 tsp butter or ghee (optional)

ground cardamom (about 4 or 5 pods, with the fibery outside removed)

Boil milk with about 4 whole cardamom seeds, reduce heat and simmer until reduced by half. Add carrots and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. When almost all the milk is absorbed, stir in sugar (adjusting to taste), raisins and nuts, butter, and cardamom. Cook a little longer, until halwa has reached your preferred consistency (there should be no liquid at the bottom). The color and taste intensifies as it cooks. It tastes great warm, and you can store leftovers in the fridge.

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2 Responses to “Carrot (Gajar) Halwa”

  1. fattydumpling March 2, 2010 at 10:07 pm #

    Oooo, I’ve always perked up when Indian things are mentioned for some reason, and most of my experience with Indian sweets contain condensed milk, so this is something different that looks so appetizing ;]

    I really want to try this. Just need to downsize the recipe…

    • mali2305 March 3, 2010 at 5:56 pm #

      Well it does reduce quite a bit- I’d say this recipe serves up about ten to twelve servings. And it keeps for at least a week in the fridge. I’m sure it would still work out fine if you did…say, one-third of the recipe. I do hope that you enjoy it, and that it turns out as good as ours did!

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