I think any Indian meal, or any meal as such, is incomplete without a dessert. Occasional treats are needed to keep the tummy happy, especially for a person like me with a sweet tooth. Carrot halwa is one of the most common and popular traditional Indian desserts, perfect for any occasion. It is also popularly known as gajar ka halwa, the main ingredient being carrot, known as gajar in hindi. Carrot halwa/Gajar ka Halwa is an indulgent confection of carrots, milk, sugar and some butter, all cooked together and finally flavoured with cardamom. Not to forget those tiny little strands of saffron which do wonders to this dessert and finally garnished with some fried nuts.
I try to cheat myself by calling this healthy, as carrots are good for health 😉 Who doesn’t want to indulge themselves with something sweet every once in a while? One of the most well known benefits of consuming carrots is that they promote good vision (remember how you were told as a child to eat up your carrots so that you could see in the dark? 😛 Just an excuse to eat Carrot Halwa 😉
This carrot halwa, my friends, is not healthy per se (I refuse to let go of the healthy concept entirely ;). I do convince myself at times that I am eating my veggies. Out of the many variations to this halwa, I will be presenting today a slightly healthier version using very little butter and low fat milk, so that I can enjoy my guilty pleasure with less guilt 😛
Be warned: you’re going to fall in love with this Carrot halwa. Make scrumptious halwa at home with this simple recipe. Super easy and super flavourful!!
Step-by-Step process in making Carrot halwa/Gajar ka Halwa:
- Grab all the ingredients. Wash carrots well to remove any mud and peel them. Now comes the most difficult part in the process, which is grating. It is quick and simple to use a food processor to do the job, if not, quite a bit of effort is required. But remember effort is always rewarded!!
- Grate carrots to thick strands manually or using a food processor. While grating, make sure the carrot shreds are not extra fine. You want to feel some tiny chunks of carrots in your halwa. Have a look at the recipe card at the end of the post for measurements.
Let’s start making Carrot Halwa/Gajar Ka Halwa:
- Heat butter in a wide skillet on medium heat and fry cashews till golden brown, remove and keep them aside.
- It’s ideal to use a wider, flatter pan for carrot halwa in order to keep the cooking layer thin. Now add grated carrot into the same pan and sauté for about 5 min till the raw smell vanishes. The best Carrot Halwa is one, which encapsulates the flavour of the carrots (remember, it’s the flavour of the carrots and not the raw smell). So sauté ‘until the raw smell strips off.
- Once the raw smell vanishes, begin to add the milk. Continue to boil the contents till the milk reduces to half the quantity. This may take about 15 minutes.
- Now add sugar and saffron strands. Let it reduce till the oil leaves the sides of the pan. This will take another 15 minutes. At this point you just have to be a little patient, and trust me your patience will be rewarded.
- Turn off the heat and add cardamom powder, fried cashews and mix well. Garnish with shredded almonds and serve hot. The saffron and cardamom are crucial to the halwa’s taste.
Wasn’t that easy? Trust me, this carrot halwa is such a breeze to make!!
- ½ kg carrots
- 1 inch cube unsalted butter or 1 Tablespoon Ghee
- 10 to 15 unsalted Cashews
- 500 ml whole milk
- ¾ cup sugar
- Pinch of saffron strands
- 3 green cardamoms remove skin and powder
- 1 teaspoon shredded almonds for garnish
- Wash, peel and grate the carrots to thick strands manually or in a food processor.
- Heat butter in a wide skillet on medium heat and fry the cashews till golden brown, remove and keep it aside.
- Add grated carrot into the same pan and sauté for about 5 min till the raw smell vanishes.
- Now add milk to this and allow it to boil till the milk reduces to half the quantity. This may take about 15 minutes.
- To this add sugar and saffron strands to it and let it reduce till the oil leaves the sides of the pan. This will take another 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat, sprinkle cardamom powder and mix well. Garnish with fried cashews, shredded almonds and serve hot.
- To get best results, use sweet and juicy carrots.
- Sweet levels can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing sugar quantity.
- You can replace sugar with jaggery too.
- You can also include your favourite dry fruits.
- Using a food processor to grate carrots simplifies the job and saves time and effort.
- Apart from the Extended simmering time it’s easy to prepare.
- Try hot carrot halwa with vanilla ice cream….it’s heavenly!!
- Storing carrots with potatoes, apples or other ethylene gas-producing veggies or fruits not only shorten their shelf life, but may also make them taste bitter.
- Khoya Paneer Gulab Jamun
- Gulab Jamun Recipe
- Rasmalai Recipe
- Kesar Badam Kulfi
- Caramel Basundi
- Bread Rasmalai
Many more to come!!…..STAY TUNED!!
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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December 2014 and has been updated for comprehensiveness and freshness.