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Gajar ka Halwa (Carrot Pudding)

I am always on the lookout for a Annie approved recipe using her favorite vegetable carrots. Usually I find a carrot cake inspired recipe, but was not expecting to find a dessert on our cruise that I cannot wait to try at home: Gajar ka Halwa. This is a traditional Indian dish, that originated in the northern regions of India. The name “halwa” is derived from the Arabic word “hulw” meaning sweet, and has been a staple in Indian households for centuries, often served during festivals. In Hindi, “Gajar” means “carrot,” and Halwa refers to a sweet pudding. So "Gajar ka Halwa" is essentially "Carrot Pudding." When I hit the buffet, the orange color drew me to check it out, knowing that carrots had to be a main ingredient, but what I discovered is that it is a simple dessert that I found to be both rich and light, sweet but not overly so. And just enough carrot to not be overwhelming. Leaving me intrigued enough to ask my Indian friends for a recipe. I cannot wait to try this one and plan on making a grocery run for the ingredients this week.

Gajar ka Halwa (Carrot Pudding)


Ingredients:

2 pounds fresh carrots, grated (I will be buying a bag of grated carrots)

4C whole milk

1 C sugar

4 tablespoons ghee *(I am substituting unsalted butter, but have added ghee recipe to bottom.)

10-12 cashews (chopped)

10-12 almonds (chopped)

10-12 pistachios (chopped)

1 t cardamom powder


Instructions:

1.   In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee (unsalted butter) over medium heat.

2.   Add the grated carrots and sauté for 5-7 minutes, until they begin to soften and release their natural sweetness.

3.   Pour in the milk and bring it to a boil.

4.   Reduce the heat and let it simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the milk is almost absorbed and the carrots are cooked thoroughly. This should take about 45 minutes to an hour.

5.   Add the sugar and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens.

6.   Stir in the remaining ghee and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the halwa reaches a thick, pudding-like consistency.

7.   Add the cardamom powder and mix well.

8.   In a small pan, heat a tablespoon of ghee and fry the chopped nuts until they are golden brown.

9.    Garnish the halwa with the fried nuts, reserving a few for the top.

10.  Serve Gajar ka Halwa warm, garnished with the remaining nuts. It can be enjoyed as is or with a dollop of vanilla ice cream for an extra indulgence.


*Ghee is a type of clarified butter that is commonly used in Indian and South Asian cuisine. It is made by simmering butter to separate the milk solids and water from the pure butterfat.


To Make Ghee:

1.  Melt unsalted butter is heated in a saucepan over low to medium heat until it melts completely.

2.  Simmer melted butter on low heat. It will start to bubble and foam as the water content evaporates. Milk solids will begin to settle at the bottom of the pan.

3.  Separate the foam from the top with a spoon, leaving a golden liquid.

4.  Continue to simmer the butter until it turns a clear, golden color and you detect a nutty aroma. (Steering frequently).This process typically takes about 20-30 minutes.

5. Make sure not to let the solid burn.

6.  Once the ghee has reached the desired color and aroma, remove the saucepan from the heat. Allow it to cool slightly, then strain the ghee through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a clean, dry glass jar.

7.  Store at room temperature.

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