For the love of hot halwa
What more could you ask for on a cold winter evening, than a plate full of piping hot gajar ka halwa?
The greeting 'What’s up, doc?' immediately conjures up an image of Bugs Bunny in my head, nonchalantly chewing on a carrot, trying to evade (or shall I say, torment?) his eternal archenemies Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam. I am a big Looney Tunes fan and I know for a fact that many people ate carrots as kids only because Bugs Bunny ate them, just like Popeye fans couldn't get enough of spinach (yuck!).
All the toon-talk aside, carrots are one of the most loved of all vegetables (some even argue it’s a fruit). They seem to have originated from Iran or Afghanistan, with references dating back to the first century, and were introduced in Europe around the eighth to tenth century. The rest, as they say, is history. Here are a few interesting facts about carrots:
- Carrots are about 87% water
- Carrots come in white, yellow, purple (yes, I am serious), orange, and red colours
- Carrots are a great source of carotene, which metabolizes into Vitamin A and is helpful in restoring vision
- Carrots are a rich low-calorie source of dietary fiber, antioxidants (bye-bye wrinkles), and a host of minerals
- Too much carrot consumption can result in a benign condition called Carotenosis resulting in orange skin ( like a tanning job gone bad). Don’t worry, it’s totally reversible
Besides being a great source of nutrition, carrots have been successfully introduced into a variety of mouth-watering dishes including cakes, pickles, steak-sides, juices, breads, jams, and even dough nuts. Inherently, carrots lean towards the sweeter side of the taste spectrum, which makes them an ideal ingredient for desserts.
Carrots are the fruit of the season now, and what more could a Pakistani ask for on a cold winter evening, than a plate full of piping hot, that oh-so-yummy gajar ka halwa (carrot pudding). Fortunately, there are quite a few places across the country that serve halwa platters, but nothing is quite as satisfying as the aroma that emanate from your kitchen when you make this delightfully tempting concoction at home. It is, by far, my favourite dish to have in the winter.
When the carrots are in full bloom, I intend to make the most of them and so should you! Enough with the drooling already, here is the recipe for this delicious winter delight:
- 1kg full fat milk
- 1kg carrots (grated)
- 5-6 tbsp condensed milk
- 5-6 tbsp sugar (can be adjusted according to your personal preferences)
- 250gm khoya (an ingredient made of dried whole milk)
- 1 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) or oil
- 2 tbsp raisins
- 1-2 pinches of powdered cardamom (optional)
- A handful of coarsely chopped cashews, pistachios, almonds and walnuts
- Heat milk in a pan and let it simmer till it reduces to about one-third of its original content
- Add the sugar and the condensed milk to the pan, and stir till everything is dissolved
- Add the grated carrots to the pan, sprinkle the cardamom powder and mix
- Let the carrots cook in the milk mixture on high flame till the milk has almost dried up
- Add ghee and raisins, and mix them into the halwa; cook for a few more minutes until the milk has completely dried up
- Mix in the khoya and the nuts (save some for garnishing), and turn off the stove
- Put the halwa in a serving bowl and garnish it with your favorite nuts
- For best results, serve immediately and make sure to save some for later. (trust me!)
Even if you aren’t a Bugs Bunny fan, you are sure to win everybody's heart with this recipe at the next dinner party you throw. Don’t be surprised if someone volunteers to lick the serving bowl clean.
This post was originally published here.