My first taste of Gajar Halwa (translation: Carrot Pudding) came from the lunch buffet at Bombay Bistro in Cool Springs. It was pretty much an earth-shattering experience for me.

Before then, if you had told me that I would fall in love with a dessert that seemed to be just a bowl of mushy, shredded carrots, I would’ve thought you were crazy.

But on that day, I was immediately dazzled by the flavors and textures that hit my palate. In fact, I even flagged down our server and requested that the chef or manager be summoned to our table.

As the manager approached, it was evident that he was bracing himself for a complaint. No sir, no complaints here. All I wanted to do was compliment him on that ridiculously amazing dish!

I’ve been enamored with Indian food long before I married into an Indian family. (That last name of mine that no one can pronounce correctly? It’s Indian. My father-in-law hails from Uttar Pradesh in northern India.) However, I’ve never been a huge fan of the desserts, because pretty much all that I’ve sampled have just been way too sweet for my taste. That is, until I discovered Carrot Halwa.

 

The Sachan Clan at our wedding in 2008

 

So as Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, approaches on November 13th, I decided it was time for me to get motivated and learn how to make this delightful treat for myself. Though my husband and I have never celebrated Diwali, now that I have a son, I’d like for him to grow up knowing what it is since it’s a part of his heritage.

Perhaps we’ll create a new tradition, making this dish together each year in honor of the festival. A sweet (but not too sweet) tradition indeed!

 

Print

Carrot Halwa

Serves 6-8. Adapted from Indian Simmer.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp golden raisins
1 lb carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
2 Tbsp Ghee (clarified butter)*
1/2 cup of nuts (I used cashew halves)
1 cup whole milk
7 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Directions:

Soak raisins in warm water for 30 minutes, then drain. Set aside for later use.

Heat ghee a large pan over medium high heat. Add nuts. When the nuts take on a golden color, remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add grated carrots to the pan with remaining ghee. Cook for 1-2 minutes and then add milk.

Mix well, reducing heat to low and simmer until carrots are softened, approximately 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking.

Add condensed milk and stir well. Add sugar.

Stir every few minutes, scraping the sides and bottom of pan to prevent sticking. Allow carrot mixture to cook until all milk is evaporated, approximately 30-40 minutes.

Stir in cardamom, nuts and raisins. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly and serve.

* Already prepared, bottled ghee can be found locally in the ethnic section of several grocery stores. I purchased mine at Publix.

 

Ghee:

Ghee is a class of clarified butter that originated in South Asia and is commonly used in South Asian (Indian, Bangladeshi, Nepali, Pakistani, and Iranian cuisine) cuisine and ritual.

To prepare ghee, butter is melted in a pot over medium heat. The butter begins to melt, forming a white froth on top. It is then simmered stirring occasionally and the froth reduces slowly and the color of the butter changes to pale yellow. Then it is cooked on low heat until it turns golden. The residue settles at the bottom and the ghee, which is now clear, golden,translucent and fragrant, is ready. The ghee is then filtered and it solidifies when completely cool.Ghee has a long shelf-life and needs no refrigeration if kept in an airtight container to prevent oxidation. The texture, color and taste of ghee depends on the source of the milk obtained and the duration of boiling. – Source: Wikipedia

10 Responses to “Gajar Halwa (aka Carrot Pudding)”

  1. 1

    Allyn — November 7, 2012 @ 8:29 am

    We love Bombay Bistro so much! The service is laughingly horrible, but their lamb sagwalla is worth it. I need to try this recipe!

    • Beth replied: — November 7th, 2012 @ 8:39 am

      I’ve only eaten there for lunch, and always the buffet, so have never had issues with service. Of course, all they really have to do is make sure my water glass never gets completely empty and keep bringing baskets of warm naan!

  2. 2

    Kelly — November 7, 2012 @ 9:16 am

    Oh Beth! I’m so in love with this recipe! Thank you so much for posting it. I love halwa and can’t wait to make this myself!!

  3. 3

    Cheryl Sachan — November 7, 2012 @ 9:44 am

    Thanks for the recipe, Beth. I love this too, but never made it. Did Archer like it?
    Really nice article.

    • Beth replied: — November 7th, 2012 @ 5:18 pm

      Archer took a little bite before I mixed in the nuts, and he seemed to like it ok. Sometimes he can be weird about carrots, but hopefully that’s something he’ll outgrow!

  4. 4

    pete — November 7, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

    Woodlands makes an incredibly flavorful interpretation of this as well. My family makes a version of this dish which is served cold for breakfast with toasted Nan and butter.

    Great post.

  5. 5

    Sarah — November 8, 2012 @ 9:59 am

    Thank you SOOO much! I, too, love Bombay Bistro. And also, I have thought that it must be easy to make the carrot pudding but didn’t have the guts to try it. It’s awesome because my husband is gluten intolerant and most of their food is safe for him to eat. We have never had a bad meal there. The owner once told me that if I want a certain item on the buffet (i.e. lamb saagwala – for Allyn from previous comment), we can call the day before and ask for it to be added. Now, if I could only figure out how to make the Ras Gula (cheese balls)…………

    • Beth replied: — November 8th, 2012 @ 10:17 am

      You’re welcome! It’s actually fairly simple, so you should give it a shot! I haven’t had the lamb saagwala that you and Allyn speak of, so guess I need to be sure to get it some time. I love that they will put things on the buffet if you ask in advance. I had no idea, and always just hope that the carrot halwa is on there when I go!

  6. 6

    Lesley Eats — November 8, 2012 @ 2:26 pm

    I love anything that makes carrots more palatable. :)

    If you hear of a toddler- (and younger) friendly Diwali celebration, please let me know. I used to celebrate with some old coworkers and really enjoyed it. But that was in Memphis.

  7. 7

    ErinsFoodFiles — November 17, 2012 @ 9:45 am

    This sounds delicious!

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