Tracing The History And Delectable Varieties Of Halwa

Every region of India has its own unique take on the smooth dessert halwa, with regional recipes reflecting local preferences and ingredients. Moong dal halwa from Rajasthan, hari mirch halwa from Pune, cholar dal halwa from West Bengal, anda halwa from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, kashi halwa from Karnataka, karutha halwa from Kerala, and many more kinds can be found. 

Indian home cooks see making halwa as a kind of ritual of succession. It takes more than an hour to make, and it can be hard to get the amounts of ingredients and cooking methods just right. That means it's easy to burn or stay raw if not cooked enough. The taste might be strange if the amounts of the items aren't right. But once you get the hang of it, it's a fun and tasty dessert to make. Many Indian homes make halwa for holidays and other special events. Furthermore, in the northern regions during the winter, the warm halwa filled with ghee helps keep people cosy. 

There are some disagreements about where it came from, but it is definitely a foreign dish that became famous in the country. 'Halwa' comes from the Arabic word 'hulw,' which means sweet. In the Ottoman Empire, Suleiman, the 10th and longest-ruling Sultan, had a special kitchen where only sweets were made. This is where the recipe for halwa comes from. One of the most famous foods there was halwa, which was made with starch, fat, and a sweetener at the time. 

Another idea is that halwa comes from the Turkish word "helva," which comes from the Byzantine Empire, sometime in the 12th century CE. Many people who study food history say that the first halwa recipe can be found in Muhammad Ibn al-Hasan Ibn al-Karīm's Arabic book Kitab al-Tabikh, which means "The Book of Dishes" and was written in the 1300s. There are eight halwa recipes in the book. A book by Abdul Halim Sharar called Guzishta Lucknow says that halwa came to India through Persia. But Colleen Taylor Sen's Feasts and Fasts says it came to the subcontinent during the rule of Mohammad Bin Tughlaq, between the 13th and 16th centuries, to the Delhi Sultanate. 

Akbar's court historian Abul Fazal wrote the book Ain-i-Akbari in the 1600s. It says that halwa was one of the foods Akbar ate during safiyana, the 10 days when he didn't eat any meat. Chaplain Edward Terry, who works for Thomas Roe, says that poor Muslims eat halwa for breakfast with bread, keema, and dried fruits. 

Gajar ka halwa has always been popular because it strikes a good balance between the sweetness of the sugar and the natural earthiness of the carrots. The result is a treat that is rich without being too much. People all over the world love its velvety texture, rich aroma, and refreshing flavour, which makes it a global favourite when it comes to sweets. 

Here’s a recipe of the super famous gajar ka halwa or carrot halwa: 


8 carrots, grated 

4 cups whole milk 

4 tbsp ghee 

12 tbsp sugar 

1 tsp cardamom powder 

12 cashews, chopped 

12 almonds, sliced 

2 tbsp raisins 

1 pinch saffron strands 


Peel, wash, and chop the carrots.  

Put the milk and carrots that have been grated into a kadhai. Turn the heat down to low and simmer until it boils. To prevent it from sticking to the sides of the pot, stir it every so then.  

While the carrots boil, the milk will begin to evaporate and reduce in volume. Combine the milk, ghee, sugar, and cardamom after it has heated for 75% of the way.  

Toss in the cashews, almonds, saffron, and raisins as the mixture nears cooking time. After the milk has dissolved, continue simmering for a few more minutes before turning off the heat.   

Garnish with chopped nuts and serve warm.