How to make carrot halwa – recipe


Rich and fudgy South Asian pudding in easy-to-follow steps

Felicity's cloak

Spring greens may be a thing of the past, but local berries and imported peaches are a long way off: with the best oranges now behind us, we're still in the so-called fruit-hunger gap. So here's a root vegetable to come to the rescue in this fudgy South Asian classic – to quote Meera Sodha, “If eating carrots as a pudding seems odd to you, remember how delicious spiced carrot cake is.”

  • Preparation 10 min
  • Cook 45 min
  • Serving 4
  • 6 cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves (optional)
  • Grated nutmeg, or a pinch of ground cinnamon, to taste (optional)
  • 500g carrots
  • 25g ghee
  • Salt
  • 250ml evaporated milk
  • A pinch of turmeric (optional)
  • 50 grams of soft brown sugar
  • 50 grams of white sugar
  • A handful of raisins or sultanas (optional)
  • 20g powdered milk (optional)
  • A handful of shelled pistachios, almonds or cashews
  • A few pinches of desiccated coconut (optional)

1 Crush the cardamom (and other spices)

Gently crush the cardamom pods just to open them, remove the seeds, then crush them coarsely into a powder in a mortar (or use the flat part of a heavy knife). For a more complex taste, you can also crush four cloves into powder and/or add grated nutmeg or a pinch of cinnamon.

2 Prepare the carrots

Peel or scrub the carrots clean, then grate coarsely. If you're in a hurry, or want a smoother consistency, you can grate it more finely, which means the dish will cook more quickly, but I prefer the firmer, uneven texture of coarsely grated vegetables.

3 Fried cardamom (and other spices)

Place the ghee in a wide, heavy skillet over medium-high heat (you can use butter instead, but in that case, be careful not to burn it), then fry the ground cardamom (and other spices, if using) for about one minute. , until fragrant.

4 Add the carrots

Add the grated carrots and a pinch of salt, reduce the heat slightly, stir to coat the carrots with ghee and seasonings and fry, stirring constantly, for five minutes. Turn on the heat and cook, stirring frequently, for 10-15 minutes until the carrots are soft and dry; be careful they don't catch and burn.

5 Add milk and turmeric

Pour in the evaporated milk (you can substitute 500ml fresh milk, if you like, but it will take longer to cook and there will be no subtle smell from the evaporated material), then stir in the saffron, if using - as well as the taste, the saffron will help to flavor the dish. the traditional red hue associated with the more intensely colored carrot varieties popular in South Asia.

6 Bring to a boil to reduce

Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the carrots, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated, leaving a soggy, but not saucy mixture – depending on the pot you use and the power of your burner, this should take about 20 minutes.

7 Mix the sugar and dried fruit

Add sugar and dried fruit, if using (if you're not a grapefruit fan, you can use anything you like, from chopped dried apricots or dates to crystallized pineapple or dried banana), and continue cooking, still stirring regularly, until the mixture thickens enough to retain its shape.

8 Add optional powdered milk

Stir in powdered milk, if using – although optional, this will give the halwa the rich taste and slightly grainy texture that are characteristic of many Indian sweets – and cook for about one more minute. Let it cool slightly while you chop up the nuts to sprinkle on top (dried coconut is also a great addition). Check for seasoning and adjust as necessary before serving.

9 Theme variations

To really impress, caramelize the nuts first, as Sodha suggests in her book Fresh India. Melt 60g of butter in a small skillet, then, once foamy, stir in 80g of peanuts (she used pecans), one and a half tablespoons of powdered brown sugar or brown sugar and a third teaspoon of garam masala. Stir until the sugar melts, then place the nuts on a greaseproof tray lined with parchment paper to cool.

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