Saturday, 18 April 2015

Gajar ka Halwa: Indian Sweet with Carrots


We are supposed to be smack in the middle of summer here, but it rains on almost all days. While it certainly has brought the relentless summer to a halt, there are days on which I wish the weather had a bit more sunshine in it. The neighbourhood cat, whose name in our home varies from Ginger to Maa-Woo to Kitty Katty to Mamma Cat to anything and everything in between (we don't know her real name), shares my sentiments.

We have our reasons, albeit different ones.
As for me, my affection towards rain largely depends on where I am. I love to sit and just soak up all that a monsoon has to offer, right from the overcast skies to the initial drizzle and the deluge that follows; provided I am at my home in Kerala. On the other hand, Bangalore rains more often than not end up as nuisances, at least to me - sad downpours, ensued by hours of traffic blocks, inches of dirty brown water and a general feeling of congestion. On top of all that, it is becoming a daily routine to having to call it a wrap as soon as I set up anything to shoot.

Ginger, though unperturbed by traffic jams and fading lights, loathes anything that splashes and generally makes a mess of the fur coat. Also, it will be a calamity if someone chooses to fry fish and she is not able to hop along drenched terraces and low walls and ‘Meow’ at them. Or if they have their back turned, help herself to a piece or a plate full of fish.

So when the weather turns moody, both of us heave a sigh and contemplate on all things sad.
In line with out of season rains, I have an out of season recipe today. Gajar ka Halwa, though it can be prepared with normal carrots too, is traditionally prepared with Red Winter Carrots that are known as Delhi Carrots here. Winter is long gone, and so are the Red Carrots. But these were shot on a similar, moody day some weeks back when I thought I will put the last of the Delhi Carrots to good use.
I have always felt that compared with the more robust, slice-able concoctions from Kerala like the Jaggery laden Black Halwa, the Flour and Sugar based White Halwa or the Amber coloured Milk Halwa, Carrot Halwa comes out as a weaker contender. I am not saying that Carrot Halwa is not delicious. It is, and furthermore, is a good way to celebrate seasonal produce. If you will turn a blind eye to the sugar content, it might even look healthy for a moment. Also, you can whip up some pretty striking desserts with it (though it is a dessert itself). Thinly layer it on Parfaits, serve along with Vanilla Ice cream or make streaks with it in the ice cream, fill it in crepes and may be even use as a filling in dumplings along with grated coconut.

Ingredients:
  1. Red Carrots, grated - 8 cups (This is from about a scant kilogram of carrots. Do not grate the carrots too fine or they will get too overcooked and mashed up.)
  2. Whole Milk - 4 cups
  3. Sugar - 3/4 to 1 cup (3/4 cup would probably be enough. But taste and adjust.)
  4. Ghee (Clarified Butter) - 6 to 8 tbsp, divided. (Keep 2 tbsp. separately to fry the nuts and raisins.)
  5. Cardamom Powder - 1/2 tsp. (More or less depending on how you like the flavour and how strong the powder is.)
  6. Cashew Nuts - 1/4 cup (It is better to use broken nuts. I have used halved cashews here. But that was an oversight.)
  7. Golden Raisins - 1/4 cup
Directions:

Take a large, heavy bottomed pot and add the carrots as well as the milk in it. There must be some free space at the top as the mixture will froth a bit.

Heat the mixture over a medium flame, stirring frequently. (Do not cover the pot.) The mixture will come to a boil, froth and slowly reduce. Be very careful that you don’t burn the mixture. Do not leave the mixture unattended.

Meanwhile take a pan and heat up 2 table spoons of ghee in it. Add the cashew nuts and fry till they turn colour. Take them out and keep aside in a bowl.

To the same pan, add the raisins and fry them in the leftover ghee. Remove them as soon as they plump up and keep them aside along with the cashews. Save leftover ghee, if any.

Once the liquid content in the Halwa pot has reduced by about 70 percent, add the sugar. (Start with a 3/4 cup.) The water content of the sugar will again loosen the mixture. Reduce the flame to a low and keep sautéing the mixture till the liquid content has lessened again. In between, check for sweetness and add more sugar if needed.

Now add the ghee and mix well. By this time, the Halwa would have turned a deeper shade, compared to the bubbling stage. Stir around for a few minutes and then add the fried nuts and raisins along with the ghee in which they have been fried. Add the cardamom powder as well, mix thoroughly and taste the Halwa.
Add more cardamom powder or ghee if needed. You don't want the Halwa to get too dry and come off from the pan as a single lump like in the case of some other Halwas. Switch off the flame when the Halwa is still moist. (There should be no liquid oozing out though.)
Serve warm or at room temperature as a standalone dessert or experiment with the suggestions made at the end of Introduction above.

Notes:
  1. You can use a food processor to grate the carrots. I do them manually with a box grater – but it obviously takes more time and effort.
  2. The recipe makes enough to approximately fill a one litre container. Since a little goes a long way, you might need to halve the recipe.
  3. You can avoid either or both cashew nuts and raisins, if you don't like to add them. You can add sliced Pistachios as garnish instead.
  4. The Halwa if made as above will stay good for five to seven days in the refrigerator. Freeze if you want to store it for longer periods.

6 comments:

  1. I love my gajar halwa overcooked and mashed up! Hehe... would love to pull out that bowl from the screen and devour it right away... definitely rains in the city is not good news, here also the roads get so clogged... just like you, I love to sit and watch the rains back home and exactly why I pick my tickets towards that time of the year! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rafee, I used to be like that; but now has begun appreciating the texture of the halwa cooked like this. And thanks much!

      City rains... Sigh!

      Oh great that you can plan vacations like that. Ours normally depend on the Techie's project deadlines and happens on random months once or twice a year - an exception being the long December vacation when his office would be shut down for Christmas and New Year.

      Delete
  2. Gorgeous looking gajar ka halwa:)..Lovely clicks dear:)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hmm I need to get some carrots and make halwa everytime I buy the rabbits :) finish it for me.:)
    Looks really yummy Priya.
    I totally understand how it feels to see it cloudy when everything is planned well and when there is no mood to take pics it would be perfectly sunny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lol Meena :)

      Thanks so much and how true!

      Delete

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