Easy Carrot Pudding (Gajar Halwa)
I know healthy-dessert is an oxymoron however this Gajar Halwa (Carrot Pudding) recipe holds true to both. Besides there’s no better way to prepare for the cold winter weather than to devour a bowl full of soul-warming Gajar Halwa (carrot pudding) made with fresh carrots, homemade ghee and coarsely ground cardamom! This recipe was a result of being snowed in last year and I made it again recently as soon as the temperatures dropped.
I did some fact-finding on the origins of Gajar Halwa because of my interest in food stories, only to find out that it may have originated in the Punjab province (pre-partition India) and was allegedly introduced to the Mughals by the people of Punjab. This was around the time when the Mughal empire was spreading its reins in India. Carrots were indigenous to Afghanistan and were purple in color, however orange carrots were grown in Europe and made their way to India through the Mughals. ‘Gajar’ in Hindi means carrot and ‘Halwa’ however is an Arab word which means sweet and is mostly used in the context of flour, milk and sugar based desserts.
Its interesting how my mom and paternal grandmother both had strikingly different recipes for Gajar Halwa, even though my grandmother was a great cook, I do prefer my mom’s version and this recipe which is much simpler with fewer ingredients. This modified version of Gajar Halwa is inspired by my mom’s recipe which is much lighter, also carrots in India are harvested in the winter and are bright red in color, unfortunately I didn’t have access to those carrots…so I used fresh organic orange carrots.
The most arduous task in cooking this up is grating carrots, certainly not my favorite thing to do but the end result is so worth it! Make sure not to grate them too fine.
Since I am a huge Gajar Halwa fan I had to modify the recipe so it can be eaten for breakfast too! My version includes a small quantity of coconut sugar (you can use organic cane sugar or jaggery and sweeten it to your liking), homemade cashew cream and cardamom.
Cashew cream works so well in this recipe, the best part is that you don’t need to use it in large quantities. Just a small amount lends a creamy richness to the gajar halwa that would otherwise require tons of milk. Alternatively this is a great option for people who are highly sensitive to lactose. The key to making this is cooking the carrots in some ghee over the stove top until all the moisture evaporates, this step requires some patience but not as much as grating the carrots!
Once the carrots are cooked, add the cashew cream and cook for few minutes, the last step is adding the sugar and cardamom. Yes, that’s how easy it is to whip this up and so good when its snowy and freezing cold outside…YUM!
- For the Cashew Cream -
- 1/4 Cup Cashews (soaked in water for 3-4 hours and drained)
- 1/2 Cup Water
- For the Carrot Halwa -
- 2 Lb Organic Carrots
- 1/2 Cup Ghee (Clarified Butter)
- 1/2 Cup Cashew Cream
- 1 Tbsp Cardamom Powder
- 1/2 Cup Coconut Sugar (or Cane sugar)
- For the Cashew Milk -
- In a blender add soaked cashews, water and blend for 2-3 minutes until completely smooth.
- For the Gajar Halwa (Carrot Pudding) -
- Heat ghee in a sauce pan over medium flame.
- Add grated carrots, stir occasionally and let the moisture from the carrots evaporate completely. This should take about 20-25 minutes. The carrots need to cook and become soft.
- Then add the cashew cream and mix for 2-3 minutes.
- Add sugar and cardamom powder and stir well.
- Serve warm and top with slivered almonds or pistachios (optional).
- Adjust the quantity of sugar to suit your taste.