Authentic Carrot Halwa
This is THE DESSERT of every Indian household. The dish that unites both the South and North, even the cause of some serious competition between housewives. You know how good ol' mamma's cakes are compared to Aunt Jenny's, or how good uncle Bob's
barbecues are compared to dad's (in the West)? This is the dish that draws the line between a good cook and a better cook in the Indian Diaspora.
Its not as calculated and precise as the American Cake but it does involve the Cook's touch. Its a simple dish. But so is Mashed Potatoes, but you know which mashed potatoes are the best! Its that special touch. Ok, let me tell you something frankly before you go any further. See, I am not good at desserts (despite what my fi says).. And Gajar(carrot) ka halwa is something I have struggled with since childhood. Mom never made it good. It was never the right consistency at home back in my childhood. She used to make it watery and way too mild. But at my aunt's, the halwa would taste superb! The thick glossy texture and the warm, rich yet mild taste would linger in my memory long after savouring each bite. And that is what I aimed at. My dad bought me a Kannada cookbook. Written in kannada, known as 'rasa paaka', it provides almost every information about South Indian and some North Indian dishes and the ingredients involved. This book, I recommend.
And from this very cookbook, comes my authentic carrot halwa. Tried and tested, so breathe your sigh of relief. Here goes -
Carrots - 1/2 kg, grated
Sugar - 1/2 kg ( the book says so, I don't recommend so much sweetness, its too much....I took 2.5 ladle fulls)
Milk - 1/2 ltr (I took 300ml of milk and 200 ml of water..wanted to save the milk, turned out fine)
Cardamom - 4-6 pods, peeled and the seeds powdered(my mom powders them in a mortar-pestle..rustic)
Ghee( Clarified Butter) - 4 tablespoons (don't skimp, that's what makes it authentic)
Cashews - 2 tbsn, broken into halves
Raisins - 1 tbsn
1. In a thick bottomed pan, add half the ghee and fry the grated carrots for 5 minutes, on medium heat.
2. Add the milk, mix and let it come to a boil. Let it boil on a gentle heat till the carrots turn soft.
3. Add the sugar and remaining ghee. Fry till the consistency becomes thick, on medium heat. Will take ya about 15-20 minutes for this to happen. Be patient. At the nearing of its thickness, be careful. Chances of burning may occur, if you don't keep mixing at the end.
4. Once the halwa becomes thick, add the cardamom powder and mix.
5. Fry the cashews first and then the raisins in 2 tbsns of ghee. Cashews will turn a beautiful golden brown and the raisins will swell up with the oil. Add the cashews and raisins to the dish and mix.
Serve it hot or let it settle to room temperature and then chill it in the fridge and serve cold. Either way, its lip-smacking good! Tell ya what, mine turned out delish!
Note: For a really delicious dessert, you should always pick the best ingredients. Buy fresh carrots (not frozen) that are juicy, dark orange in colour and tender. Freshness of ingredients adds to the taste!