Make authentic Gajar ka Halwa, a cherished Indian dessert, with fresh carrots, milk, ghee, and aromatic spices for a warm and indulgent winter treat.
Winter in India brings not only the chill in the air but also a range of seasonal delights, and one of the most cherished is Gajar ka Halwa. This traditional Indian dessert, made from fresh carrots, is a warm, comforting, and indulgent treat that perfectly complements the colder months. Known for its rich, creamy texture and the delicate aroma of cardamom, Gajar ka Halwa has a special place in the hearts and kitchens of millions. In this recipe, I'll guide you through the steps to make this winter delight, ensuring that you can savour the authentic flavours and textures of this classic dessert.
For Gajar ka Halwa, you will need
- 1 kg fresh and tender carrots
- 1 litre full-fat milk
- 1 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
- 1/4 cup ghee (clarified butter)
- 1/4 cup chopped nuts (almonds, cashews, and pistachios)
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 1/2 tsp green cardamom powder
- A pinch of saffron strands (optional)
- A handful of chopped khoya (dried milk) or mawa (optional)
1. Preparing the Carrots
- Start by washing, peeling, and grating the fresh carrots. You can use a grater or a food processor with the grating attachment. Grate them finely for a smoother texture.
2. Simmering the Milk*
- In a heavy-bottomed pan, bring the full-fat milk to a boil. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer. Stir occasionally to prevent the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
- Continue simmering the milk until it reduces to about half its original volume and becomes thicker. This step can take some time, approximately 30-45 minutes.
3. Preparing the Gajar ka Halwa
- In a separate large, heavy-bottomed pan, add the grated carrots and the ghee. Cook the carrots on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. The ghee will add a rich flavour and aroma to the halwa.
- Continue cooking the carrots until they become soft and tender, and their raw smell disappears. This process usually takes 20-30 minutes.
4. Merging the Milk and Carrots
- Once the carrots are soft and have absorbed the ghee, add the thickened milk to the pan. Mix well and allow the mixture to cook for another 10-15 minutes on low heat. Stir continuously to ensure that the milk and carrots combine beautifully.
- If you prefer a richer and creamier texture, you can add khoya (dried milk) at this stage. It will give the halwa a velvety finish.
5. Adding Sweetness
- Stir in the sugar and continue to cook the halwa until the sugar dissolves completely and the mixture thickens. The sweetness can be adjusted to your preference; if you prefer a less sweet version, reduce the amount of sugar accordingly.
6. Incorporating Flavor and Aroma
- Add the cardamom powder to the halwa and mix it in for a delightful fragrance.
- You can also add a pinch of saffron strands soaked in a tablespoon of warm milk for an extra layer of aroma and colour.
7. Garnishing with Nuts and Raisins
- In a separate small pan, lightly roast the chopped nuts in a teaspoon of ghee. Keep them aside.
- Similarly, you can sauté the raisins in ghee until they plump up and turn golden.
- Add the roasted nuts and plumped raisins to the halwa and mix them in. Reserve some for garnishing on top.
8. Final Touch
- Continue to cook the halwa until it reaches a thick, pudding-like consistency and leaves the sides of the pan.
- The Gajar ka Halwa is now ready to serve. It should be aromatic, rich, and beautifully combined, with the carrots giving it a luscious texture.
9. Serving the Gajar ka Halwa
- You can serve Gajar ka Halwa hot or warm, garnished with a few more nuts and raisins. It's often enjoyed on its own, but some people also like to pair it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for an extra indulgent experience.
10. Storing the Leftovers
- If you have any leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Gajar ka Halwa can be reheated in the microwave or on the stovetop when you're ready for another serving.
Gajar ka Halwa is not just a dessert; it's a cherished tradition that warms the heart during the winter season. Its aromatic spices, rich textures, and comforting warmth make it a delightful treat to be enjoyed with family and friends. Whether it's a festive occasion or a cosy evening by the fireplace, this classic Indian dessert is sure to brighten your winter days. So, embrace the season, and indulge in the joy of making and savouring this beloved delicacy.