Yesterday, mom and I made gajar ka halwa (also known as gajrela). Well, she made it and I just hovered around, taking photos. She thinks I have gone completely crazy with this picture-taking habit of mine. She is right.
Gajar ka halwa is a north Indian dessert, traditionally made during the winter months. The main ingredients are carrots (gajar), milk, ghee (clarified butter) and sugar. It’s preferable to use the pink-red variety of carrots, since they tend to be sweeter and juicier. But, these carrots are only available during winters, which explains the seasonal nature of this dish. According to Wikipedia:
“The variety of carrot found in north India is rare everywhere except in Central Asia and other contiguous regions, and is now growing in popularity in larger cosmopolitan cities in South India. The north Indian carrot is pink-red comparable to plum or raspberry or deep red apple in colour (without a touch of yellow or blue) while most other carrot varieties in world are from orange to yellow in colour…”
Of course, one can always use the orange-variety since it’s more readily available, but in my opinion, the end result isn’t as good (you’ll also need to use more sugar).
Like most dishes, every family has its own recipe for gajar ka halwa. Some people cook the carrots in a pressure cooker/ rice cooker/ microwave to save time. Others use condensed milk or khoya along with whole milk. My mom keeps it simple. Her recipe requires more time, but is straightforward and easy.
- Carrots, 750 grams
- Whole milk, 1 liter
- Sugar, 100 grams (approx.) or to taste
- Ghee, 4 tablespoons (approx.)
- Assorted dry nuts, raisins, cardamom (for garnish)
- Peel and grate the carrots.
- Combine the milk and carrots in a heavy-bottomed pan. Cook them on medium-high heat till the milk reduces to less than half its original quantity and the mixture becomes thick. It’ll take a loooong time! Keep stirring frequently.
(As a child, I used to eat bowlfuls of this thick creamy mixture with a little sugar..it tastes yumm even at this stage. I suppose you can call it carrot pudding.)
- Mix in the ghee. Keep cooking till the halwa turns a deep red and starts leaving ghee from the edges.
- Add the sugar and cook for a few more minutes till it is completely dissolved.
- Garnish with nuts, raisins and cardamom powder and eat while still warm.
1. The halwa will last at least a week when kept in the fridge and longer if frozen. Just reheat in the microwave before eating.
2. If you keep cooking the halwa beyond this stage, it’ll caramelize and turn into a thick, deep red confection known as gajar pak.
How do you make gajar ka halwa?