Thursday, September 26, 2013

Savory carrot halwa

At an Indian restaurant, I noticed something on the dessert menu called "carrot halwa". Intrigued by the idea of a carrot-based dessert, I looked it up as soon as I got home. As per the Wikipedia page:
Gajar Ka Halwa (Hindi  : गाजर का हलवा ) (sometimes known as Gajrela, Carrot Halwa or gajar ka gajerela) is a sweet dessert pudding associated mainly with the state of Punjab in India & Pakistan. It is made by placing grated carrot in a pot containing a specific amount of water, milk and sugar and then cooking while stirring regularly. It is often served with a garnish of almonds and pistachios. The nuts and other items used are first sautéed in ghee, a South Asian clarified butter.
Sounds tasty. But, I also didn't really see the need for tons of added sugar. Carrots, raisins, and coconut all have a nice natural sweetness. What I ended up making is more of a side dish that I would serve in similar situations to a sweet potato casserole. I served it with grilled pork chops that I had seasoned with salt, pepper, and curry powder.
I used powdered coconut milk, but I am certain that it would be just as good with canned coconut milk instead. Also, I bought some nice sweet carrots from the farmer's market. I think that good carrots are pretty key to keeping this dish unsweetened. I used a combination of pistachios and almonds, but feel free to use only one or the other, or substitute chopped cashews.

Serves about 8 as a side dish

  • 2 lbs carrots
  • 3 Tbs (30 grams) golden raisins
  • 1 Tbs ghee or coconut oil
  • 2 Tbs sliced almonds
  • 2 Tbs pistachio kernels, roughly chopped
  • 1 oz unsweetened powdered coconut milk OR 1 cup canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2-1 tsp cardamom seeds, powdered (use 1/2 tsp for a subtle flavor, a full teaspoon if you really like cardamom)

  1. Peel or scrub the carrots. Shred them using a box grater or the shredding disk on a food processor.
  2. Melt the ghee or coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the raisins, almonds, and pistachios. Saute until the nuts and raisins are lightly golden brown. Do NOT burn! Add the cardamom and stir for a couple seconds until fragrant. Add the shredded carrots and stir well to combine.
  3. If using powdered coconut milk, add a cup of water; otherwise, add the canned coconut milk. Cover, turn heat to high, and bring to a boil. Immediately remove the cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender and the liquid has mostly evaporated, about 20-30 minutes.
  4. If using powdered coconut milk, stir it into the carrot mixture.
  5. Pack the carrot mixture into an 8x8 pan and let cool. Cut into 16 squares. Serve chilled or at room temperature.


Gabriela Cinkova said...

This looks awesome! I love halva and this recipe definitely puts a much healthier spin on it.


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