I started this blog by talking about the shakkarparas and gajar ka halwa I made for Diwali last year.
So I am back to write about the halwa, a dessert that Indira and her father just love.
Though it is in my mother’s kitchen that I first learned to make it myself, I still remember watching my Biji (my maternal grandmother) cook this halwa on her chulha in my grandparents house in a village in Rajasthan, stirring in the cream – or ghee- that gives it that special taste. It was a special treat when we visited her during our winter holidays from school, and a couple of times we even carried some back all the way from Rajasthan to Bihar, in a big steel box, for our father who loved it as much as we did.
And back in those days, since there were no microwaves, she would – as does my mother to this day -add a little more ghee to keep the halwa from sticking to the pan every time she re-heated the leftover portion, which enhanced the taste a little more each time…
My brother likes to tell my mother that though she is a good cook, her gajar ka halwa is not in the same league as Biji’s.
Maybe it is the love and effort they put in to it, or it might well really be because of the copious amounts of cream and ghee; either way, I do agree with my brother that their gajar ka halwa is the best in the world.
Here’s my recipe, based on theirs:
Gajar ka Halwa
500 gms carrots
500-600 ml full cream Milk
4 tbsp ghee
10 almonds, skinned and halved
2 tbsp raisins
¾ cup sugar (a 200ml measuring cup)
5 green cardamom pods
a few small strips of beaten silver leaves
Peel, wash and grate the carrots in a food processor. Bring the milk to a boil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add the carrots, stir the mixture and leave to cook on medium heat, stirring quite frequently until the carrots are very soft and the milk almost completely dries up.
In the meanwhile, after adding the carrots to the milk, soak the almonds in hot water for about 20 minutes, then remove their skins and halve them. Soak the raisins as well, in half a cup of hot water, then drain the water after 15-20 minutes. Powder the seeds from the cardamom pods.
Once the milk in the pan has almost dried up, add the sugar and cook again until the milk dries up completely. Now add the ghee and cook the halwa for another 7-8 minutes. To finish, stir in the raisins, the almonds and the cardamom powder and after transferring to a serving bowl, layer the silver strips on top.
You could also add a few teaspoons of khoya or dessicated coconut towards the end of the cooking process.
This is just a great dessert on a winter evening.