February 13, 2014

Carrot Halwa / Gajar Ka Halwa / Gajar Halwa / Gajrela

       This week is indeed special for everyone - Its VaLENtiNE's Day, so much better that it falls on a Friday and I got to book our dinner table early!  Though we love our dear ones every day in our life, this day helps us express it better. To make it more unique we make something special for our loved one's. For me its my family that stands first, my hubby and my little angel are the best to celebrate it with. Every day I want to see a smile in their faces and pray for their happiness. Though Gifts/Chocolates/Cakes make my family happy, this time I am treating them with something different - I can proudly say HEALTHY dessert. You heard it right - Healthy Dessert!

       Gajar(Carrot) Ka Halwa is a dessert pudding. Now I am not sure if it is an Indian or Pakistani dish. Have heard its from Punjab (North-western state of India). Very easy to prepare and a healthy recipe served warm or cold as desserts on Festivals like Diwali, Raksha Bhandan etc. A dish that completely involves Carrot and Milk cooked with light sugar and seasoned with some nuts. There are lot of variations in making this halwa. Many fry carrot in Ghee(Clarified butter) and then cook with milk. Some prepare the way I did and add ghee in the end. According to me this dessert doesnt require any ghee or butter, it is tastier without fried nuts in it too. 

          It takes a bit of time to cook this dessert but we can also prepare this in a slow cooker if we dont find time to stand near the stove. My Good Friend Reetu Upadhyay is an expert in making this halwa. This is truly her recipe. She makes sure that I receive a bowl whenever she makes this - Thanks Reetu :). It makes you more satisfied when you treat healthy dishes for desserts too - Now I am happy when my little one eats Carrot Halwa as the main course instead of dessert :).

Ingredients: (Servings 3 people)
Carrot - 2 cups (Grated)
Whole Milk - 2 cups
Sugar - 5 teaspoons (Add less or more according to your taste)
Cardamom powder - 1/4 teaspoon
Butter - 1 tablespoon
Almonds - 10 (Sliced)
Cashew nut - 10
Raisins - 10 (Green or Black)

(Alternate Whole milk with Almond Milk for more rich taste. Sugar can be adjusted accordingly. My carrots were very sweet so I had to add less sugar)

  • Heat butter in a small pan, add almonds, cashew, fry slightly on a medium flame. Add raisins and when they pop like balloons switch off the stove and keep aside. Heat another non stick pan and add carrots. you will see steam coming out. Let it cook on medium heat for about 7 minutes or until the water from carrots evaporates completely and see carrots getting lighter from their original color (This process helps you to reduce the raw smell of carrots from your dessert). Boil milk in another sauce pan separately, once it boils let it simmer for 5 minutes. 

  • Add the boiled milk to the carrots. Stir well, reduce flame to medium-low(level 2) and let it cook (Try to Boil milk and saute carrots in step 1 parallelly. The time to cook carrots in milk will take around 40 to 45 minutes in total). It will start to bubble in around 30 minutes. Add cardamom powder and sugar once the bubbles are firm. Stir well and let it cook for another 10 minutes. Now once everything comes together and milk dissolves completely with carrot (you will see only 2 spoons of milk around), the halwa gets thick. Add fried nuts, stir well, let it cook for 5 to 7 minutes and switch off. Serve warm or after refrigerating for sometime.

My Notes:
  • Take equal quantity of milk and grated carrots. Infact 1/2 cup of additional milk is fine. 
  • Use a non-stick pan for cooking halwa so that it will not stick in the bottom.
  • Halwa - Any kind of Indian Halwas is cooked in low or Medium low flame. When done on high flames the result will not be good.
  • After adding sugar(as mentioned) taste the contents to decide whether to add more. Please dont add all at once as your carrots might be sweeter.
  • Green Raisins make this dish more tastier. I did not have them in my pantry to add, so used black raisins.

For some other wonderful Valentine's day Dessert ideas, check out links below from my Comfort Food Feast Friends of Food Network.

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Quinoa Fudge Brownies
Feed Me Phoebe: Salted Caramel Budino with Whipped Cream
In Jennie's Kitchen: Milk Chocolate Brownies
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: A Chocolate Fondue Party
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Blood Orange Bars
Dishing with Divya: Carrot Halwa
Virtually Homemade: Raspberry Grand Marnier Mascarpone Hand Pies
Devour: 5 Bread Pudding Recipes for Valentine's Day
Weelicious: Puff Pastry Berry Hearts
Red or Green: Hot Chocolate, New Mexican Style
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Chocolate Cake Brownies (Refined Sugar-Free)
The Sensitive Epicure: Nutella Panna Cotta
Haute Apple Pie: Valentine Cake Pops
FN Dish: DIY Chocolate Desserts for Valentine's Day
Food for 7 Stages of Life: S'mores on a Stick
Tasting With The Eyes: Puff au Chocolat avec Fraises, Basilic, Fleur de Sel

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