Gajar no Halvo is a decadent Indian sweet pudding made with carrots slow-cooked with milk and scented with freshly ground cardamom.
Carrots are in full bounty in the winter. I remember how lush and gorgeous the red carrots would be seen at the farmers market, back in the day when I would go shopping with my mother. She would buy 2kgs of carrots and make a big batch of this halvo for all our family and friends. It is a true labor of love, as she says.
The carrots are peeled, washed, and shredded. She then squeezes the excess water from the carrots. And then its time to cook this hearty and very comforting gajar no halvo.
I may sound biased, but hey it is true. My mom makes the best gajar halwa. I really only like this dessert made by my mom. I only started making it a couple of years back, as it will take me back to mom's kitchen. The house would be perfumed with the sweet smell of caramelized carrots cooking in milk, scented with freshly ground cardamom.
What is Gajar Halwa?
Gajar Halwa simply translates to Indian Carrot Pudding.
This Indian Mithai makes an ardent appearance in our home. It only takes a few pantry staple ingredients to make this humble yet hearty Indian Mithai. The carrots are toasted in ghee and caramelized, and then slow-cooked in milk. The carrots are cooked until the milk evaporates, and we are left with only milk solids. My mom adds fresh malai to her halwa to add creaminess. In the end, the halwa is sweetened with sugar and perfumed with freshly ground cardamom. I like to serve it warm. This gajar no halvo is melt in mouth delicious.
Is this Recipe Vegan?
My recipe uses ghee and milk, so this recipe is not vegan. If you want to make the gajar halwa vegan, it will need a completely different recipe. The ingredients and method to make the halwa in this recipe will unfortunately not work.
Ingredients To Make Gajar no Halvo
- Ghee - I love to use ghee as the fat for this recipe. The nutty aroma that ghee renders in Indian Mithai is just unbeatable.
- Nuts and Dried Fruits - You can use nuts of your choice. I like to use a combination of cashews, pistachios, almonds and golden raisins.
- Carrots - Traditionally speaking, India gets a bounty of beautiful red carrots during the winter season. In the US, we normally get Orange Carrots, so I would say use whatever is available in the market during the season.
- Milk - Use Whole Milk for this recipe. Do not substitute this. You need the fat in the milk in order to make a delectable gajar ka halwa. We will be slow cooking the carrots in milk, to let the milk evaporate and essentially leave us with deliciously creamy Mawa (Khoya).
- Fresh Malai/ Milk Powder - This elevates the creaminess of the halwa and leaves us a beautiful melt-in-mouth texture.
- Sugar - Castor sugar is added to the halwa once the milk evaporates. To make it healthy you can also use coconut palm sugar.
- Green Cardamom - Fresh pounded green cardamom is added to scent the halwa with its sweet and earthy taste and aroma.
- Optional Ingredients - You can add a bit of saffron and rose water in the end, if you like the floral notes in your halwa. I don't prefer to add these so my recipe will not have these ingredients.
Expert Tips to Make Gajar no Halvo
I have tested this recipe I don't even know how many times now. Here are a few things that will help you perfect this recipe.
- A watery Gajar Halwa holds the biggest disappointment in my opinion. There are no shortcuts to making this delectable Indian Mithai. You want to squeeze the excess water from the carrots after shredding them. Preserve the carrot water, add it to your smoothies, or cook rice with this water.
- Use good quality whole milk. If you are in the bay area, and if you can get your hands on Straus Milk, get it. It is perfect to make kheer and halwa. It is so creamy, with extra fat and fresh malai.
- Please don't buy the pre-shredded carrots. The cut is too thick, and long to make the halwa.
- SLOW COOKING is the key. Cook on a medium-low flame. The result will be worth it. Keep stirring every now and then.
- Use good quality cardamom. It should perfume your halwa beautifully.
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Gajar Halwa | Gajar no Halvo
- 1 Food Processor / Shredder
- 1 Heavy Bottom Pot Prefrebaly Non-Stick
- 1 Silicon Spatula
- 9-10 Carrots 4 cups of Shredded Carrots
- 1/3 Cup Ghee Melted
- 10-12 Cashews
- 8-10 Pistachios
- 10 -12 Golden Raisins
- 4 Cups Milk
- 1/4 Cup Milk Powder or 2 Tbsp Fresh Malai
- 1 Tsp Cardamom Powder
- 10-12 Tbsp Castor Sugar
- Wash and Peel the carrots. Now using a grater attachment in your food processor grate the carrots. If you don't have a food processor, grate the carrots using a grater.
- Hand press the grated carrots to get rid of any excess water. Don't throw away the water, use it in cooking your rice or lentils, or in your smoothies. Keep it aside.
- In a heavy bottom pot, on a medium low flame, add melted ghee, and next add in the nuts and raisins. Roast them until golden. Take the nuts out of the pot and put them in a separate plate.
- Now to the pot, add the grated carrots. Toast them well with ghee, for carrots to absorb the nuttiness of ghee. Sauté for 2-3 minutes on a low flame.
- Next add in the milk. Bring the carrots and milk to a simmer. Stir every now and then, to make sure the milk doesn't burn or stick to the pot.
- When the milk reduces to about 70% add milk powder, sugar, and cardamom.
- Mix well and let it simmer again until all the milk has evaporated completely. Keep stirring every 2-3 minutes to avoid burning.
- Once the milk has evaporated completely, Add the toasted nuts and turn off the stove.
- Garnish the halwa with slivered nuts of your choice and serve it warm, hot or cold.
- Use fresh, juicy and tender carrots for the best taste to make this halwa.
- This halwa stays fresh in the refrigerator for 10-12 days.
- Use full fat/ whole milk only.
- Do not leave the halwa unattended. The ingredients can stick to the bottom of the pot and burn.
- Use nuts and dried fruits of your choice.