Sunday, December 30, 2012

Carrot Halwa

Gajar ka halwa finds its way to every happy occasion in most Indian homes. Be it a festival, a promotion at job, last day of exams or just an ordinary day carrot halwa forms a part of the happiness. Haven’t  even Hindi Cinema and serials flaunted  Gajar ka halwa much to their advantage….a dish that the hero always looked forward to when he came home to meet his mom?..

I remember coming back home from school to find a dubba full of Carrot sweet waiting for me at the table. …I would not stop till the last spoonful went into my stomach .If my mother would put it in the fridge I would tiptoe slowly to the fridge, open it again and again to feed my Halwa hungry tummy.

I would place a bowl of halwa next to me, even late in d night at one or two o clock to accompany me while I read a book .Description about lunch and dinner and what they ate in the Nancy Drew’s and Famous Five’s would tickle my taste buds…most of the dishes were foreign to my traditional palette unheard or not tasted… I would immediately feel like eating something. Only my mother’s Carrot halwa would come to my rescue. One   more spoonful would go into my mouth and I would realise there is no better sweet. 

The day before my exams mother would make it. They were made by my mother at my special request, to help me stay awake as I did last minute studying. My mother’s intelligent inducement to keep me from falling off the chair as I delved through study materials I never read before….

The word Halwa comes from Arabic meaning``sweet’’It was first introduced by sikh traders  in Punjab during the Mughal regime and hence bears a close association to the state of Punjab.It is an inevitable dish for occasions like Diwali,Holi and rakshabhandan.Made with healthy carrots cooked in milk and sugar,they are nutritious but slightly high on sugar. The sugar free version is prepared with more milk added with less of sugar or no sugar at all. Here comes the recipe-:

Delhi carrots/regular carrots-3 Heaped cups grated
Milk-2 3/4 cups-3 cups
Sugar-3/4 cup-1 cup
Cardamom-2to3 pods or ¼ tsp cardamom powder
Saffron-a few strands
Nuts to garnish

In a thick bottomed or non stick pan add 1 tbsp ghee. Add the grated carrots and sauté for 3-5 minutes or till pale. Add milk and stir. Simmer and let the carrots cook in the milk in low flame for ½ hr-40 minutes , till the milk is fully absorbed. Stir at regular intrevals.Add the sugar. The mixture will liquefy but let it cook for10-12 minutes. Keep stirring. Then add rest of the ghee (2 tbsp) little at a time till. Cook till mixture becomes thick and ghee bubbles and seperates  and the mixture leaves the sides of the pan .Sprinkle cardamom. Fry some nuts in ghee and add along with a few crushed strands of saffron. Can be served hot or cold.  It tastes wonderful with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

Some recipes use only half the milk of the quantity of carrots. But I like mine cooked with equal quantity of milk.
Cardamon pods can be added along with sugar.
Condensed milk can be added before sugar and quantity of sugar should be reduced accordingly.
You can cube the carrots, grind it in the mixie without water. The mixture should not become a paste. It should only be finely ground.
You can also pressure cook grated carrots is 1-11/2 cup milk (1 whistle) and then continue the process.

I prepared my Gajar halwa with normal carrots but Red Delhi carrots make the best Gajar halwa. The best carrot halwa in India is served in the states of  Rajasthan and Punjab ofcourse. But  it goes without saying that this truly royal dish has spread its taste and fragrance  to every Indian Home….Be it north –south-east- west.


1 comment:

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