October 21, 2008
Wah! Wah! Gajar Ka Halwa/ Carrot Halwah..
The last of the warm weather.. dark mornings, brr.. awakenings and stepping on the cold tiles in the kitchen now requires me searching out the warm socks and jackets. Outside too, fall is setting in, with the leaves changing color backstage, getting ready for their annual fashion show.
A slight dip in the temperatures evokes memories of even tempered places elsewhere and the invitations from my West Coast families are so tempting..sigh.. This is the weather that sends me running to the comfort food zone...warm, sweet and rich food..It's festival time too every where so what better to make than sweets..
When the first hint of winter sets in, the juicy super sweet blood red carrots would start appearing in the markets. When they flooded the market in super abundance, my father couldn't resist the deal and would get kilos of it just because it was fresh, cheap and so obviously good for you. A quarter would get peeled and get used for snacking, a quarter for later and the rest would get converted to my favorite form of eating this vegetable..gajar ka halwa!! My way to get the big five veggies in my diet (at that time.):)
So when I started writing the recipe down, I couldn't pin down the exact ingredients. We just make it with any amount of carrots and adjust the ingredients according to taste. This is the closest I could get but use your judgment and reduce or increase the quantity of sugar and milk(enough to get the carrots cooked to a mush). We used to use "Khoya", a form of concentrated milk solids in the end so that you get tiny morsels of it along with the halwa..like adding powdered kalakand to the halwa. Khoya is available at Indian stores but you could substitute with heavy cream added earlier or even concentrated ricotta cheese. Though the khoya here is not as fresh as the ones back home (here it's a little dry and not as creamy) it still adds a lot of flavor at the end.
Serves 6-10( reduce quantity in proportion if you want to make less)
you will need:
Carrots- 8 cups grated
Whole Milk- 9-10 cups milk
Sugar-approx.1 1/2 cups..add more or less as per taste.
Cardamom seeds- 1 teaspoon seeds crushed into powder
Water- 3/4 cup
Ghee-3 tablespoons...substitute ghee +khoya with 1 cup cream
Khoya(Milk solids)- 1/2 cup(optional)
Raisins, Almonds, Cashew nuts- to taste
Wash, peel and grate the carrots. Grating gives the best result but is not so easy on the arms. If possible, convince the muscle building husband/brother in law or brother to do the grating. So if you want, use a grater/chopper attachment in a food processor and finely chop the carrots and then pulse it in the mixie/blender twice...don't grind it to a paste. This will homogenize the texture.
Set the water and half the milk to boil in thick bottom pan( a pressure cooker pan or non stick pan will do) and when it starts boiling, add the grated carrots. Cook on a medium flame for 1 hour (or less)stirring occasionally. When all the milk has been absorbed, add the rest of the milk. The approximate proportion of milk is a bit more than the quantity of carrots.
Mix well and cook on medium heat again till all the milk has been absorbed.This should take about another 40 minutes more or less (depending on quantity)and the carrots should have been full cooked by now. The milk should be on a simmer all the time, else the flame is too low. The time is really an approximation and may take more or less.
After that, the milk will soon start to evaporate so keep an eye on the flame. Add the sugar and mix well and keep cooking. After all the milk is gone and the carrot starts darkening in color, add the ghee. Keep stirring and mix well till the halwa starts to move together as one mass without any much liquid left. Add the crushed cardamom powder and the crumbled khoya. Mix well and saute for just 2 more minutes.
If you don't have khoya, use condensed milk but omit sugar in the recipe, or use 1 cup heavy cream after the carrots gets cooked and keep cooking. The cream will give it the richness and you won't need to add ghee after that.
The substitutes should be added in the beginning..only khoya is added in the end. The khoya just adds a rich milky taste at the end and it should be as tiny morsels in between the halwa.
Garnish with cashews,almonds or pistachios. Serve cold, hot or at room temperature.
This is my entry for the JFI sweets hosted by Srivalli..cooking for all seasons.
On another note, I was given this really cool award by Geeta of Paytpooja. An award by a fellow blogger is one thing that never fails to brighten up the day. Thanks Geeta!
The rules of the award are: Put the logo on your blog. Add a link to the person who awarded you. Nominate 10 other blogs. Add links to those blogs on yours, and leave a message for your nominees on their blogs. I am happy to pass on this award to my fellow blogger friends.
So I nominate the following for the cool blogs. Enjoy!!
When my soup came alive
Live to eat
Solai's chettinad kitchen
Cooking and me
Cooking for all seasons
A Delighted Foodie
Comfort food network