I love carrots – uncooked. This is the only way I will eat them cooked, ‘cos it’s so tasty, and the texture is not mushy.
This is a good way to cook an assortment of veggies. In lieu of carrots, this dish can be made with bottlegourd (see our microwave version HERE), butternut squash, zucchini, beets, and probably many other neutral or sweet veggies with texture. (Parsnip halwa, anyone?)
South Asian ‘halwa‘, made with semolina, or different veggies, is quite distinct from the Turkish and West Asian ‘halva‘ made with sesame paste or nut pastes. The latter is usually dairy-free. Both derive from the Arabic root halwa (sweet).
If it is a wet veggie like bottlegourd, grate and gently squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Adjust the sugar according to the sweetness of the veggie. Sweetened condensed milk can be used to replace the milk and the sugar.
We like this halwa with some texture. To avoid it disintegrating to a mush, we cook it on the stovetop for 10-12 minutes max with the milk, and make sure we carefully regulate how much liquid goes in. The liquid needs to dry up within that time frame.
Did you know?
Orange is not the original color of carrots – purple is! The carrot seems to have started in Afghanistan, and what appears to be a purple carrot is featured on Egyptian temple walls dating back more than 4000 years. The purple carrot was the norm in India, Europe, and throughout the Middle East. Then, 400 years ago, in another burst of patriotism, Dutch farmers bred an orange carrot to match their country’s color. Today the purple carrot is making a comeback, and green, yellow, red, white, and black varieties have been bred. These natural pigments contain healthy nutrients. The “traditional” purple variety tastes sweeter, and is especially rich in anthocyanins, which also act as antioxidants.
(from Dr. Greene)
Recent research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests that pigments in these colourful carrots, which taste just like regular carrots, may help prevent heart disease and cancer, and reduce cholesterol. (Source)
CARROT (GAJAR) HALWA
1.5 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
**regular butter may work too
3 cups packed, grated carrot
2 cups whole or evaporated milk
**or 1 cup Half and Half
a pinch of salt
1/3 to half cup sugar, depending on taste
3 shelled green cardamoms, powdered
a few drops rose water (optional)
**or a couple strands of saffron
2 tablespoons each chopped cashews and golden raisins
1/4 cup cashews (or almonds), toasted lightly and ground to a powder (optional)
1. Melt the ghee, fry the raisins first until they puff up, take them out. Fry the nuts until golden and take them out.
2. Add the carrots to the same ghee and fry until dryish. (This can also be done in the microwave)
3. Meanwhile, reduce the whole/evaporated milk on a medium flame to 1 cup. If using Half and Half, just heat it up before adding it to the carrots. Either way, do not use more than 1 cup liquid.
4. Add the milk, sugar and salt to the carrots and cook down until really thick and it begins to come off the sides of the pan. To aid thickening, you can add the nut powder. This is optional, but the nut powder makes it creamier and enhances the flavour.
5. The carrots should have texture in the end, and they should not be too ‘milky’. So cook them for 10-12 minutes, max on medium-high heat. (This too can be done in an uncovered container in the microwave, stirring every couple of minutes.)
6. Add the powdered cardamoms, rose water, cashews and raisins. Stir and serve warm.